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7/22/14

Sweetest Ways to Show Employee Appreciation

This blog can otherwise be known as its original working title: "Come to the Dark Side, We have Cookies." Get the t-shirt now.

Having spent time working closely with my HR department over these last few years has helped me appreciate the often overlook art of balancing the humanity of people and the resource needs of the business. Rolling out an enterprise-wide HRMS over the course of a year seemed easier to me than my latest collaboration with HR. We are trying to fill a highly technical role for our SMB with the added challenge of seeking a skill set that is in high demand in both the public and private sectors. Competing with the salary and benefits package of the government is not an easy task. 

Furthermore, I am also on our Great Place to Work committee and our training committee. Combined with my role as IT Manager, which is as much admin as it is change agent, and I spend a decent amount of time pondering how to improve employee morale while also increasing productivity without raising headcount. 

Any number of books can point you to a methodology to increase engagement, manage change better, and overall be a kinder, gentler place to work. Practice is much harder than theory. We aren't always in the mood to be kind or gentle. A frantic pace prefers succinct communication. The declaration to do more with less is ever present.  

A small step in enriching the lives of your employees is treating them as you'd want to be treated. Whether you are Finding the Space to Lead, like Janice Marturano, or screaming "Everyone is fungible," finding a way to take a bite out of the whirlwind and be sweeter, is as easy as calling up Mrs Fields.

I've assembled treats into several section below to highly some of the inexpensively tasty ways we chip away at the stress of the day (click images for more product details).

Thanks/Good/Job

It is important to celebrate milestones and to recognize when employees (and/or teams) go beyond their required efforts. This section highlights some of the cookie-rific ideas on how to celebrate those achievements. The great job section is the first 7 items and as you can see would fit many situation for employee recognition with the proper card or thank you note.

The Thank You specific section starts with the giant thank you cookie and ends at the smile bag.  This are pre-printed with the thank you statement. Since you never know when someone is going to need a thank you, it could be a good idea to order a few small boxes just in case you need them quickly.

The rest of this section on is a few more unique suggestions from little lunch/beach bags to hot chocolate to cooler bags and reusable toolboxes. These items have that additional wow factor really impresses people when they receive it as a gift.

Large Meetings

One of the hardest things to do is to get a large group of people together for a big meeting. It gets easier when you have a nice selection of cookies available at the meeting. This section highlights some of the larger cookie baskets for those times when you need to cheer up lots of people. The last three items in this section are for very large meetings.  Regardless of your gathering size, once you start having beautifully presented cookies at your quarterly meetings, people will start coming early.

Break Rooms and Open Meeting Areas

I've always been a fan of little pick-me-ups that people put in the break room to share with everyone. When the employees know the employer is willfully providing that post lunch perk, it helps to keep them happy and motivated. These are great for your own break room, as a center piece for any open air meeting space, or as a great gift to the employees of one (or all) of your vendors staff. Employees not only appreciate when their employer recognizes them for a job well done, but it provides warm fuzzies when their vendors and customers notice too.

Birthdays

It is hard to hate your birthday when you get a bundle of cookies. These little gifts are a great addition to the co-worker signed birthday card. remember, sometimes it is the little details that count towards retaining a good employee. Making a little fuss about a birthday is usually quite appreciated.

Sympathies

Personally, I am an emotional eater. If my life is struck by some tragedy and you send me one of the baskets in this section, you will bring a little sunshine to my day. I won't forget it. Besides, everyone sends flowers. And flowers die; which just increases sadness. Doesn't every sad feeling deserve to be wiped away by the sugary goodness of a cookie? 

Graduations

We typically think of graduation gifts for those matriculating away from high school. Depending on your business, you may have some high school grads (in 2015 - I know I missed the bus on that this year). However, don't forget you probably have some people graduating with their Bachelor's, Master or PH.D. degrees.  Even if the employee is lucky enough to have had the company pay for the degree's tuition, don't forget to celebrate the milestone of having a well-educated employee on your side.

Parenthood

FMLA, Long-term disability, ma/paternal leave, are all challenges HR faces when an employee has new children. However jaded you have become about your employees reproductive rights, don't forget that this is a happy (and stressful) time for them. Sending them some celebratory cookies is an excellent gesture.  You may just save your employee's life as your cookies may be the only thing they have time to eat for the first 3 months with their newborn.  You may also get an excellent story about how they thought what they licked was melted chocolate on their hand.

Special Appreciation Holidays/Anniversaries

There are plenty of other events to celebrate. From anniversaries of tenure to nurses week, cookies are always a good way to show gratitude. 

General Congrats

Maybe you have multiple things to celebrate and only have the budget for a small gesture of appreciation. This giant cookie is for you.

Holidays in General

Liven up your work atmosphere by installing holiday themed cookies in the break room, meeting rooms, or at the reception desk. It is a classy touch for all festive seasons.

Customizable Products

Nothing highlights the pomp and circumstance of a company event like branded swag. Who says you have to give out pens. Let your event attendees eat up your brand, literally. You can get cookies with your logo/message on them.  If you'd rather not give your employees and vendors the impression your brand is telling them to "eat me," then maybe a branded box is the way to go.  If your really need your cookie to make a statement, you can get anything you want written on it. 

Reoccurring Orders

Lastly, you can sign up for the treat of the month club and have a goodie delivered to your desk every month.  This is a good for those that know they will probably need a thank you gift, but are forgetful in procuring said gift. If you are the boss, this is a good item to add to your order. You can get yourself a little reoccurring excellence while also ordering sweet treats for your employees. You really are a good boss. You deserve it.
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