We spoke to 3 companies about how they’ve been showing appreciation to their employees during 2020.
Here's what you need to know:
- Employees may need flexibility to take care of themselves or their families — such as part-time scheduling, flextime, job sharing, and shift work
- Reallocating part of your budget to sending care packages to staff is another meaningful offering
- Employees may welcome virtual learning opportunities for themselves and their children
- Video greetings among colleagues and videos from leadership are another way to express care and empathy for employees
- Virtual activities such as team-building exercises, trivia, and speed dating nights help boost morale
- If budgets are tight, try sending handwritten messages. A heartfelt thank you note sent through the mail can be much more meaningful than an email
This year has been challenging for many people. Between uncertainty about the coronavirus and continuing clashes over racial and economic inequality, employees may be feeling on edge. Without seeing people in person, it can also be tricky for managers to know when their reports feel burnt out.
With that in mind, some employers are trying to go the extra mile to show staff members they care. “We call ourselves a Bundle family because we take pride in the health and well-being of every one of our staff and strive to show them they matter and make a difference — no matter their roles,” said Kayla Lebovits, founder and CEO of Bundle, a company that provides employer-paid virtual learning for children and older adults.
Here’s a look at ways to show employees how much you value them.
“Providing this level of flexibility has enhanced our morale, reduced absenteeism, improved retention, boosted productivity, and allowed better work-life blending.”
Employees may need flexibility to take care of themselves or their families. Allowing them to do so shows that you don’t just see them as cogs in an impersonal machine. That’s why Bundle offers part-time scheduling, flextime, job sharing, and shift work depending on employees’ needs. “Providing this level of flexibility has enhanced our morale, reduced absenteeism, improved retention, boosted productivity, and allowed better work-life blending,” said Lebovits.
Learn more about the growing importance of flexibility work arrangements.
When Online Optimism, a New Orleans-based marketing and design agency with 23 employees, switched to remote work in March, they reallocated their in-office snack budget to sending out monthly care packages to staff. These have included items from local businesses such as New Orleans-inspired scented candles and growlers of cold brew coffee. They have also distributed Online Optimism-themed coloring books.
The company also sends goodies to “barketing” (employee’s dogs) and “catvertising” (employee’s cats) staff for special occasions. “We had take your dog to work day recently and upcoming is international cat day,” explained Sara Bandurian, the company’s office coordinator.
Employees who do well each month also get a raffle entry to receive the ice cream of their choice.
Read about a Seattle company curating gift boxes as employee care packages.
When schools and childcare facilities closed last spring, many employees scrambled to keep kids entertained while working from home. Bundle’s offering is providing virtual learning experiences for children and older adults. The company decided to also offer unlimited “Bundle breaks” to employees who are responsible for children or older relatives.
“Extending our service to our working parent cadre has helped sustain morale and improve our overall mental fitness in these challenging and unprecedented times,” Lebovits said. “The staff knows that if the unexpected crops up we have their back and can afford them the break and time they need from family obligations to get what they need done when they need it.”
When two strategists at Online Optimism earned the title of senior strategist, Banduarian said they wanted to do something special. They couldn’t celebrate the promotions in person, so they thought of alternative ideas. In addition to champagne, one of the senior strategies received a video greeting from Jay Jackson. He’s the actor who plays quirky newscaster Perd Hapley on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. It was purchased via Cameo, a service that offers short, personalized video messages from celebrities. The other received champagne and a custom punk song written about her by an artist on Fiverr.
Videos from leadership are another way to express care and empathy for employees. Nakisha Hicks, vice president of human resources for the Nashville Symphony, said they have sent out videos in an email newsletter. “The video is about 5 minutes sent to all staff, just to show appreciation, update them on current happenings, and to recognize accomplishments both individually and as a whole,” she explained.
“The video is about 5 minutes sent to all staff, just to show appreciation, update them on current happenings, and to recognize accomplishments both individually and as a whole.”
Virtual staff events
While an in-office party to celebrate birthdays or promotions might not be feasible during the pandemic, virtual activities are. “We strive to bring people together by hosting virtual team-building exercises, trivia, and speed dating nights that promote team cohesiveness, monthly town halls, and providing open office hours to keep us better connected and in-tune as we work from a distance,” Lebovits said.
Learn more about how companies are bringing employees together with virtual team building activities.
Thank you notes
When budgets are tight, a nice handwritten message can still show thoughtful appreciation. A short but heartfelt thank you note you send through the mail can be much more meaningful than an email. Hicks said Nashville Symphony has sent notes to staff members’ homes during the pandemic.
“The thank you notes are handwritten for the most part and sent to show gratitude for going above and beyond in job duties and as a general thank you for sticking with us through all of our changes,” she said. “Overall, our folks have loved them. It has allowed them to stay connected to the organization and to leadership and with all that is going on it’s been received as us showing a great level of appreciation and gratitude for their service.”