Posted by: healingtheworkplace | May 2, 2010

Have I Told You Lately…How Much I Appreciate You?

HI there, have I told you lately how much I love…the internet? Whenever I’m looking for some inspiration about the workplace all I have to go is visit my favorite search engine…GOOGLE.

Yesterday I spent some time at Douglas College chatting with an instructor and two students about leadership and change.  One of the topics that came up during the conversation was the importance of building a sense of community in the workplace.

The instructor, whose name is Doug, is an Executive Director of a fairly large non-profit organization. Doug was telling us how he builds community in his organization. 

I’ve written about community building in previous blog posts. Today I want to share some information that I found on the University of Alberta website.

I found the following information in the section on recognition programs:

We recognize that a strong sense of belonging and “community spirit” is closely linked to knowing that your contributions are valued and having colleagues that demonstrate support, camaraderie and appropriate concern for the well-being of others.

Recognition and acknowledgement does not have to be a grandiose gesture. In our busy and often stressful work and learning environment a sincere thank you can make a significant difference in someone’s day.

On the website the human resources people at the U of A provide resourcefulness tips for supervisors and resourcefulness tips for everyone else.

They also provide free e-cards that can easily be sent to anyone in need of some acknowledgement or support. 

The web page for supervisors is more comprehensive (hmmmmm) so I’m going to copy some of the content here:

Informal Recognition

An annual event to say thank you has a place, but in the absence of numerous interactions throughout the year, an annual event will have minimum impact no matter how much ceremony is attached to it. In addition don’t forget to do the following:

  • Show confidence in their abilities. Provide opportunities for professional development and advancement to enable growth on the job. Enlist staff members help to train others.
  • Create a “year in review” booklet. Have a year-in-review booklet with pictures or a celebration highlighting your employees’ proudest achievements of the year.
  • Give courtesy time off. Grant employees an afternoon off, or even a day or two of leave for special, personal events in their lives.
  • Have a “Friday surprise.” Surprise your staff with something nice on Friday, recognizing them for working hard or just hanging in there. Host a department pizza party or have a group picnic with ice cream sundaes.
  • Get a traveling trophy. Establish a trophy that goes each month to the employee exhibiting the greatest overall performance — behaviors and results — in the business.
  • Set aside some time at a regularly scheduled (weekly, monthly, yearly) meeting to recognize achievements. Read letters of commendation from satisfied clients. But, if the employee is shy and likely to feel uncomfortable, you may choose to send an e-mail message or a memo publicizing the achievements of the employee instead of having an in-person gathering.
  • Put it in the “smile box”. Whenever something positive happens, staff members can place a note in the box. Read all notes once a week and draw one for a winner (e.g. gift certificate).
  • Introduce a Star Program: If employees do something beyond their normal job, they are given a star in public recognition. Consider a gift certificate, token or announcement in a department newsletter or website.
  • One-on-One Praising: Set interviews and meeting times with employees, who set the agenda.

Spontaneous Recognition

Over the years there has been an evolution in what employees want to feel appreciated. Preference has gravitated toward more intangible rewards; it is about feeling supported and involved.

  • Say a simple “thank-you”.
  • Send a an e-card
  • Write personal notes to employees. Jot down a message to one of your employees, recognizing him or her for better performance on the job, or write a thank you note to an employee for putting in extra time in the workplace. Use your personal stationery.
  • Give credit when credit is due. Remember to give credit to those who have introduced great ideas and completed special projects.
  • Encourage and support innovation
  • Provide public positive reinforcement of staff members them when they recognize others.
  • Put up a “Way to Go” bulletin board. Construct a bulletin board at your place of business to recognize employees through letters, memos, pictures, thank you cards, and other methods.
  • Bring donuts and coffee to the office for the morning coffee break.
  • Make it fun. Give an employee a giant Tootsie Roll, a gold star, a golden nugget or some other visible item

In some ways it is kind of sad that we have to remind people to “be thoughtful of others” but it’s great to see the U of A taking the lead on this. It’s also great to know that there are leaders, like Doug, who see the value of having fun and being real with the people they work with.

Cheers, Lesley



  1. What a nice newsletter Lesley. I love the title and I think the advice and information inside is practical and useful. A great resource for leaders looking for inspiration and a few helpful ideas.

    • Thanks Alpha!

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