Tag Archives: employee engagement

How far you’ve come

Following on from last week’s email about my biking misadventures; I’d like to share with you today another idea I’ve been reminded of on my road to recovery.

It would be all too easy to put all my focus on all the things I can’t yet do: cook a meal, wear anything with sleeves or simply cut up my food unaided! Let alone drive, ride my bike or dig my garden.

Thinking this way only gets me frustrated.

Instead I focus on how far I’ve come… Getting dressed unaided, opening jars, I even managed to hang out washing and a spot of one-handed ironing the other day!

Of course, I still have goals of what I want to achieve and by when (I’m absolutely determined to get back on my bike again before the summer is out!), but by focusing on those small incremental improvements I’m seeing every day just helps to keep everything in perspective.

So how is this relevant to employee engagement or customer service?

I believe this focus on how far you’ve come is relevant in many ways, but here are just three:

Performance Improvements

When an employee is under-performing its certainly important to identify the gap between the standard you want and where that person is performing now.

But as they make improvements it’s far more encouraging and motivational  to focus on how far they’ve come and improvements that they’ve made rather than focusing solely on the remaining gap.

Which, of course, means the sooner they’re likely to close that gap.

Developing Team Members

When any of your team members are learning a new skill or a new process and it doesn’t work immediately it’s easy for them to get despondent and disheartened, whether this is something that is going to take them a day to master, or a year.

By reviewing how far they’ve come, what they’ve learnt and the little incremental improvements they’ve made it can help keep them engaged as well as learning from the feedback on what’s working and what’s not working.

Personal Progress

The same principles can apply in our own personal growth. It could be all too easy to focus on what we have not achieved, rather than thinking just how far we’ve come.

Action point

So if you only do one thing, as we near the end of the week look back and identify at least one area in which you or one of your team members has made progress this week… And give yourself or them a pat on the back!


Stuff happens

Every so often life throws at you something totally unexpected. Just under 2 weeks ago on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning I came off my bike. This resulted in 2 open fractures to my lower arm, over 3 hours in surgery and 5 days in hospital. Hence no e-zine from me last week.

I’m not telling you this to get your sympathy (… Well, okay, a little bit would be nice!). But those five uncomfortable and dreary days in hospital reminded me of a few important lessons in showing you care and helping people feel good about themselves.

I believe each of these are just as relevant in the business world in showing your team members you care about them, and ultimately improving employee engagement.

  1. Common courtesies. In the hospital 95% of the staff introduced themselves and their role, and added a polite good morning/good afternoon. There were just 2 or 3 staff members who didn’t do this, and there was a marked difference in how I felt with these people. In the business world a simple sunny smile and a cheerful good morning sets everyone up for the day. I always live by the principal of treating your team with the same care, courtesy and respect you’d like them to show customers.
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  2. Listen and observe. Keep your ears and eyes open to recognise when things aren’t as they should be, and spot concerns quickly. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems. No more so in my case when several hours after my surgery I stopped responding. Thankfully for me my nurse picked this up instantly!
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  3. Be approachable. When points 1 and 2 above are observed this is likely to happen naturally. Not everyone feels comfortable raising concerns or questions, particularly in front of their colleagues (or fellow patients). Being open to and responsive to individual questions or cries for help means you don’t leave people struggling and floundering, and enable them to get back to the job and up to speed as quickly as possible.
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  4. Focus on what you can do rather than on what you can’t do. At one point I was in a lot of pain, but because I had reacted badly to morphine I was not allowed any more. One nurse (who incidentally never introduced herself) just frankly told me I couldn’t have a more morphine and left me at that. Whereas another nurse explained why I couldn’t have morphine but what he was going to give me instead.
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  5. Be flexible. In any organisation – be that your business or the NHS – there have to be systems and processes in place. But there are occasions when being so hellbent on the rules serves nobody.
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  6. Let people know you’re there for them. I’ve had a wealth of messages, phone calls, cards and visitors all offering their sympathies, support if needed and wishes for a speedy recovery. Every one of these has made me feel good; even if I don’t ever call on any of these people for their support, it’s so reassuring to know it’s there if I need it. In the business world you don’t want to be checking in on people every 5 minutes, but it’s always reassuring for anyone in your team to know that you’re there support them when it’s needed – whether that be work-related or maybe some personal issue that could be on their mind.

If you only do one thing, just take one action today to show your team members that you care for them and you’re there for them if they need you.

If you’d like more ideas on how to show your team you care about them, so they care for your customers and your business there 131 tips here



Off to a Flying Start

Earlier this week I spoke at The Horticultural Trades Association Catering Conference on attracting and retaining superstars. Of the 7 key ingredients I discussed one focused on giving new team members the red carpet treatment and creating a positive first impression, so they feel valued and engaged from day one.

In last week’s blog I wrote about the steps you can take to create a sense of anticipation and excitement before new team members even start. This week I’d like to focus on their induction once they are in the job.

It’s all too easy to expect new starters to hit the ground running and throw them in at the deep end. Especially when you’ve been understaffed and are desperate for the new pair of hands.

But this can be counterproductive.

In the same way you might think about your customer experience and how you’d like customers to feel as a result of doing business with you, transfer this principle to your staff.

How would you like this new team member to be feeling at the end of their first day?

Overwhelmed and confused? Frustrated, underutilised and bored? Already questioning that this is the right job for them?

Or enthusiastic, excited, looking forward to making a real contribution to the business, and can’t wait to get into work tomorrow?

Make a plan

People can only remember so much information. Spread the induction over several weeks, and limit what they’ll be covering on the first day to a minimum as there will be a lot for them to take in.

During the induction period involve as many other team members as possible as this is a great way for your new team member to meet others, start to understand how their role fits in with everybody else’s and for them to feel part of that team.

Identify who will be involved with what so there are no overlaps or gaps. Then make sure that everyone involved knows what part they play and schedule time to devote to this. No one wants to feel as if they are an inconvenience and this will do little to make the new team member feel welcome.

Here is a checklist of things to include

Here is a checklist of things to include in your induction, and of course every site and every role is different so ensure you tailor the induction around the job they’ll be doing and where they are going to be working. Plan your inductions well in advance, and schedule what will be happening when.

WHAT TO INCLUDE

Here are some key headings, but not necessarily everything under each heading is to be covered in one go. Think about what’s essential for day one, what’s to be covered within the first week, and then space other things over the coming 3 to 4 weeks.

The lay of the land

Show people where they will be working, where they can find things, where they can leave their personal things, where they can take their breaks, where to find key information, resources, and the people they’ll be working with. Point out health and safety needs such as fire evacuation points, first aid kit and any hazardous areas.

The job itself

Although you would have discussed this at the recruitment stage now is the time to go into detail. Let people know exactly what is expected and how this will be measured, how progress will be reviewed and how their role fits in with everybody else’s.

The bigger picture

Where does their job fit into the bigger picture? What are the goals and targets of the business as a whole and how they contribute to this.

Where does their role fit in with everybody else’s? What does everybody else do? What are all the other services and facilities that you provide?

What we stand for

Think about your purpose, values and culture. What is important to you as a business and what is the type of experience you want your customers to have when they do business with you? Communicate this.   If you have won prestigious awards be proud of these and share what this means and what you need to do to sustain this level.

Customer expectations

Help new team members understand your customers’ expectations. Describe your customer profile and what they will be looking for. Why do people come to you rather you’re your competition, what makes you different or unique. Take people through the customer journey and allow them to see everything from a customer’s perspective as far as possible; not only for their own department, but all the other services your customers use, starting with your website*.

* This is a great exercise to do with all new starters. As part of their induction ask them to find certain information from your website. They learn about the business, and you can get some feedback on how user-friendly and informative your website is.

How we do things round here

How this translates into the day-to-day role might come better from a fellow employee, a sort of buddy, rather than necessarily always coming from you. However if you are going to do that, make sure that the person they are buddied up with knows the standards, knows the expectations, and knows what you want from them.

The law of the land

This is where you cover all contractual parts of their role such as work permits, absence reporting, signing their contract, how and when they get paid. Talk about holiday entitlement and how they go about booking this so there are no later disappointments as late notice holiday requests get turned down.

History and heritage

It’s nice to know a little bit about the background, heritage and key historical facts about your business, but people don’t need every little detail. Home in on what’s relevant, so if for example your building has an interesting history and your customers are interested in this, cover the key points and let them know where they can go for more information if they want to dig deeper.

One of the family

Help new starters to settle in by involving them in team activities in the workplace, and ensuring they get an invitation to any social activities. Let them know who the people are to go to for help and guidance, who are your champions or experts in different areas, who should they turn to when you’re not there.

Practice makes perfect

Don’t expect everyone to be superb in every aspect of the job straightaway. Plan on the job skills training appropriate for the role they are going to do and allow time for them to get up to speed.

Getting stuck in

For new people it can sometimes feel to them as if they are not achieving much in the early days. So consider allocating a specific project that they can get stuck into and for which they have some responsibility and ownership. This is a great way to get them involved and give them something where they can contribute early on.

Regular reviews

Schedule weekly meetings with your new starters for a minimum of the first four weeks to review progress, answer questions, and identify when help is needed. This is also a great time to get feedback from them on their ideas and observations. Often a fresh pair of eyes will highlight things we’ve missed, and they bring with them experience and insights on how to do things better.

So, for the next person you take on, don’t waste your recruitment effort & costs by poor induction.  Increase the likelihood that they will want to stay, do the job to the standard you expect, and become a loyal employee, by giving them a thorough planned induction, backed up by the right support and resources to deliver the job well.



Employee Engagement Starts Here

Nearly every business owner I know lists recruiting and retaining good staff high on their list of priorities.

Having gone to the effort and expense of finding a good fit, don’t waste this by poor induction.

The first few days and weeks in any job will determine how that person feels about your business and whether or not this is the place they want to stay and if they’re able to pursue their career here; is this an environment where they can feel happy and get on with their fellow team members? Employee engagement starts here.

People like (and need) to know what’s expected of them. But induction should go far deeper than simply their duties and contractual obligations.

During someone’s first few weeks is also an opportunity for you, as you have a fresh pair of eyes to review your business, to spot things that maybe we’ve become accustomed to, and to come up with new ideas.

Start the induction process as soon as possible; the more you can do before their first day the quicker they’ll get them up to speed.

In your job offer let them know how much you’re looking forward to them coming to work for you and then start with information that lets them know that they’re going to get a warm welcome.

Create a Welcome Pack

The easiest way for you to do this is to create a standard welcoming pack. This might include:

  • A short personalised welcome letter or card from you, the owner or general manager personally signed.
  • The background to your business, your values and what’s important to you.
  • An outline of what they’ll be doing in the first week – training, briefings, range of work.
  • Map of the area with local information: banks, useful shops, a park to enjoy during their break. Go to Google Maps and print out.
  • Information about personal safety at work, plus travelling to and from the job. (Particular important for those who will be working unsociable hours) This might include information about parking and public transport, even a timetable (download and print).
  • For hospitality, leisure or retail businesses a voucher for them to come and be a customer with you so they can experience things from a customer’s perspective.
  • Vouchers from other local businesses – find those who will be happy to do a reciprocal arrangement (all good for the local community). Make them of real value, and something your staff will care about.
  • Information about social media they can connect to: the Facebook Page, Instagram account, Twitter and a private Facebook Group for staff if you have one. (And if you don’t now might be a good time to think about one!)
  • A short summary of the Staff Manual with key things they need to know.
  • Their contract of employment so they have an opportunity to read through this before day one
  • Any current topical information, such as your latest newsletter
  • An invitation to any events happening between now and when they start
  • A copy of their induction programme and their point of contact for day one
  • What to wear and what to bring on their first day

Putting all this in a smart folder with their name on it and sending it to them before they start will make them feel more welcome and they are more likely to be looking forward to the first day and getting into their job quickly.

You could also put this information online and give them the url to access it (or in a pdf you send to them), so you can embed links to access useful local information and all your social media pages.

So, once they start what needs to be covered in that induction to get them off to a flying start?

Next week I’ll share a handy checklist for creating your own induction programmes.

I’ll also be talking about this at the HTA catering conference next week, so if you happen to be there, I’ll see you then!



Mixing Things Up

“Talking it through in our group I’ve now got some brilliant ideas.”

“It was great talking to others and realising they have the same challenges”

“I now have a better understanding of xx department, and know what I can do to make both our lives easier”

“It was great to get someone else’s perspective, as I’d not seen things that way before.”

These are typical of the comments I get from delegates on my workshops.

I can guarantee I will always get at least one delegate (if not nearly all) on every workshop I run saying that meeting other people or mixing with people in other departments was an invaluable part of the workshop.

Why?

  • It generates new ideas (in fact the very same happened to me this week when I was a delegate – and came away with a cracking idea from another delegate – more of which you’ll learn at a later date).
  • It gives a greater understanding of each other’s roles, and the demands on them so people and departments become more supportive of one another
  • It helps build relationships and connections, helping team members to understand each other better, knowing what’s important to them and how to get the best from them
  • It helps each other identify where their strengths and expertise lie, so where they may be able to support one another
  • It reminds everyone that ultimately they are working towards the same goal

But…

It doesn’t need an externally run workshop to enable these things to happen.

There are plenty of things a business can do internally to get team members and departments working well together, exchanging ideas, supporting one another, and generally creating a harmonious team.

Here are just a few…

Mixed meetings and briefings.  Mix departments to work together and share best practice and see others’ perspectives. Proactivity mix people up to sit with people they don’t normally work alongside, otherwise everyone just gravitates to towards their own team or their buddies.

Upskill and cross train people to cover other’s responsibilities so people are confident their job still gets covered when they are sick, on holiday or have an extra heavy workload. (Upskilling also demonstrates your commitment to your team, and shows people they are valued.)

Set up job swaps so everyone has a greater appreciation of each other’s roles and create teamwork and a culture where everyone takes responsibility when necessary, rather than passing the buck.

When there are special circumstances, such as working on a big project define responsibilities to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort.

Get rid of rotten apples. It only takes one or two negative people to get in the way and spread their negativity onto everyone else and drag them down to their level. Deal with them or get rid of them before they make everyone else’s life miserable.

Social events. Finding something that appeals to everyone’s tastes, personal commitments and pockets can be challenging, so never force people to attend.

Involve your team in organising the event. However, be careful this isn’t seen as a chore, or you will undo all the goodwill you’re trying to achieve.

After-hours team activities in the workplace can open up accessibility for those who can’t or won’t otherwise get involved. Cookery classes, wine tasting, talent contest; anything that taps into the interests or expertise of your team members.

Personal Development. Offer extra-curricular activities through suppliers open to all team members. For example, if you are a hospitality business you might ask your alcohol supplier to organise a gin tasting, or a cocktail making demonstration or competition.

Social Media. Set up a private Facebook Page or WhatsApp group where your team members can chat, share ideas, ask questions.

These are just a few ways you can get your team talking to one another. If you’d like to talk though more ideas specific to getting the best from your team set up a call with me here.



Mapping the Journey

Earlier this week I attended a customer experience seminar. We had some excellent presentations, including one on what went on behind-the-scenes for the London Olympics in creating such a memorable visitor experience through the Games’ Makers (in which – I am proud to say – I played a small part).

One of the sessions was on customer experience journey-mapping. As the name suggests this is looking at everything on the customer’s journey from the customer’s perspective, and should include everything that happens leading up to the point of purchase (awareness, decision to buy, etc) as well as what happens afterwards (e.g. staying in touch, recognition of loyalty).

Mapping the journey is one thing, but then review the experience your customers get at each stage on that journey. What do you want them to feel at each point, and how well do you achieve that?

Of course, the most obvious people to ask about the customer journey from a customer’s perspective are your customers.

But failing to start by asking your team members is a massive lost opportunity on three counts:

  1. Firstly, you get a fresh pair of eyes (and ears) on what the customer sees, hears or experiences. It’s amazing what team members will spot as opportunities to improve or modify the customer touch points to give a smoother or enhanced customer experience.
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    Your customer facing team members will invariably hear first-hand from customers of your short-falls and their frustrations.
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  2. Secondly, when team members spot improvements it gives them a sense of ownership over any changes, rather than being seen as a criticism.
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    So you’ll get employees engaged and get buy-in and commitment to making the changes happen.
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  3. Lastly it helps your team members to engage more readily with your customers.
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    Because they’ve experienced everything first hand for themselves they are able to appreciate what’s important to the customer at that point, and can relate easily to them when discussing or describing any aspect of your service or products.
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    This is just as relevant for back of house staff too.

Because we can become oblivious to what we’re involved in every day (and sometimes quite protective) it helps to mix teams up a bit. Even old hands can give you another perspective by experiencing another department.

Often it’s seemingly simple things. The layout of counters forcing customers to backtrack or double up wasting time and effort; poor directions or signage, meaning customers get lost or miss things altogether (often impacting your sales too);

Build it into your induction process as new team members will be experiencing things for the first time, giving you a fresh perspective.

Of course, it may not always be possible or practical for team members to experience everything but even if you sell exotic holidays or exclusive wedding dresses there will still be plenty of opportunity to get a sense of what your customers experience, particularly the various touch points your customer experiences before or after doing business with you, which so often get forgotten.

But you might be in a position to use the exercise as rewarding activity. If, for example, you run a hotel, having your team members stay at the hotel (and have access to everything your guests do) might be a treat for them, but gives you the opportunity for feedback too, so it’s a win-win.

How often do you put any of your team members in your customers’ shoes?



Congratulations!

If you’re anything like me, you love having an excuse to celebrate. Today happens to be my wedding anniversary, and at 33 years I think that’s cause to celebrate.

Marking special occasions is a great way to engage both customers and team members. Recognising a personal milestone, proud moment or a significant event shows you care.

What’s the occasion?

The most obvious things to celebrate are birthdays and anniversaries. Not just personal anniversaries such as a significant wedding anniversary, but maybe noticing the anniversary of the date each of your team members joined your business or your department. If you’ve a large team you might decide to celebrate the anniversaries of everyone who joined in the current month. This is a great excuse to bring people together who might not normally work closely together.

For business customers congratulate them on a significant anniversary in their business, or the anniversary of when you started working with them (and this helps to reinforce your relationship).

And of course, don’t forget anniversaries for your own business; it’s a great way to blow your own trumpet!

Recognise those important and proud moments for your team members outside of work. The arrival of their first grandchild, passing their driving test, their child’s graduation, gaining a qualification, making a significant contribution to a charity e.g. through a fundraising event, running a marathon, etc.

Celebrate and share your business successes. Let everyone know when you’ve had a good month, and thank them for their contribution. Celebrate that special deal or contract you’ve won. Pass on the recognition you’ve received from an important customer.

Cheers

Celebrations don’t need to be lavish. What’s more important is that they are sincere and will be appreciated by those you are congratulating.

Recognise that some people love the limelight, others hate it. Sometimes a quiet “congratulations and well done” is all that’s needed and will have more impact than any over the top celebration.

For a customer a little unexpected gift (which might also be an excuse for them to visit again, but ensure it is something they will value, not just a blatant promotion for more business) can make them feel special and appreciated.

If it’s an occasion to be shared will taking time out for coffee and cake to celebrate the occasion be more appropriate than taking everyone down to the pub?

And it may be that the best and simplest way to help team members mark the occasion is giving them the opportunity to knock off early, so they have more time to celebrate with their family and friends.



Blunt Home Truths

One of the key areas of focus for many of my clients is how to increase the retention of their key people.

They are worried about not tapping into their potential and ultimately losing them, which inevitably has a knock-on effect on customer service, productively and profit.

Sadly, some business owners stick their head in the sand because they are afraid of what they might find. But you and I know this approach doesn’t work.

If you want to avoid this and would welcome some blunt home truths, you might be interested in this article from this Wednesday’s edition of The Times.

The article talks about what’s happening within the Iconic Hotels Group (Chewton Glen, Cliveden House, The Lygon Arms and 11 Cadogan Gardens) as a result of getting feedback from staff through the brilliant digital business-transformation platform called Engagement Multiplier.

I’m very excited that I’ve recently become involved Engagement Multiplier. This means you too can also benefit from the amazing insights it provides you – discovering where to focus to increase retention – of both customers and employees, and as a result of that increase and improve profit.

Of course, this isn’t just applicable to 5-star hotels, as I’m seeing from the results from my clients who are already using Engagement Multiplier to make small incremental changes in their businesses.

You can see Engagement Multiplier for yourself here, and get your company’s engagement score in under 10 minutes, by taking the free ‘owner’s’ assessment.



Not another meeting!

Do you feel you spend too long in meetings? I think most business owners and managers feel that at times.

Over the past few weeks I have written about the importance of giving feedback and a structure for conduction 1:1 meetings with your team members. But when you feel it’s yet another meeting adding pressure to your already packed schedule it’s one of those things that can slip down the priority list.

And that’s how your team will see them too.

So, here is the third and final instalment to help you get started.

Why

Let’s start by remembering why it’s important to sit down with each of your team members on a regular basis.  The aim is to:

  • To motivate your team members to either continue or sustain good performance
  • For team members to feel confident that they have the ability and support to fill any gaps where they need development
  • To nip in the bud any potential problems which could escalate if left to their own devises
  • It’s an opportunity for them to have their contribution recognised – not just performance, but have their ideas heard
  • It devotes time to set direction and goals for the coming weeks
  • The net result should be an enthused and motivated employee who knows what they should be focusing on, and how this will contribute to the business

We all like to be reassured. And even if we make the assumption that “no news is good news” we can still left with that nagging doubt in case there might be anything wrong.

Finding time

One of the common concerns I hear is that the process is time consuming, particularly when you have 8 – 10 people reporting to you. It’s then easy to let them slip.

Look at it another way – ask yourself how much time potentially will you need to spend rectifying things if you don’t take that time out with them?

So rather than being over ambitious, schedule your meetings on a time frame you think you can reasonably achieve.

Use the 3 questions discussion before and stick to this structure so your team members get used to you asking these same 3 questions. Ask them to come prepared with their answers.

One to ones should be scheduled so both of you can plan for them and around them, and fully prepare. And nothing smacks more of “I’m not valued” than one to one meetings being continually cancelled for the slightest reason.

I’m often asked how often and how long they should be. There is no hard and fast rule, but devoting insufficient time can mean they get rushed, leaving the team member feeling devalued, or meaning you don’t have time to really drill down into any detail when needed – merely skimming the surface and achieving little.

Schedule your meetings so neither of you are distracted by imposing deadlines e.g. during your busiest periods or prior to your critical deadlines in your business. Think also of their state of mind at the end of a hectic day, very busy period or big project.

Getting started

Use your first meeting to establish (jointly) their goals and KPIs if you don’t already have these in place.

Identify what you want to achieve from the meetings.

The agenda doesn’t need to be written in tablets of stone, but it’s good to follow a basic structure so you both know what to expect and can plan accordingly. Linking back to your objectives there are some key elements to include, all of which can be structured around the 3 questions.

It’s far better to home in on one or two areas at each meeting so you can go into some depth, rather than covering everything superficially and covering the same old ground over and over each time.

Building trust

If people’s previous experience of one to one meetings up till now has been bad or at best just a waste of time, it can take time to build trust before these can be totally honest exchanges.

Avoid the fish bowl type of office or public areas. You want a free and open discussion, and you’ll not get this when there’s a fear they’ll be over heard, or others can see their reactions to any sensitive issues raised.

  • Make a connection: show you’re interested in them not just their work; ask about family and well-being.
  • Pay attention: listen, show you are listening, ask questions, avoid office distractions.
  • Keep it light: Yes, professional, but not overly formal if you want them to be open.

Make a note of any actions agreed, and ensure you follow through on any commitments you have made to the team member, so they don’t see the whole thing as yet another meeting or simply a tick box exercise.

In summary

If you aren’t already conducting regular one to ones now might be a good time to start.

Focus on asking the 3 questions on a regular basis and gaining agreement on actions moving forward, with some measurable goals and clear direction.


This happens every day, right?

You’re probably not aware of this but today is “Employee Appreciation Day” in the US.

OK, so that’s great to show your employees some appreciation.

But doesn’t this happen every day?

As human beings we all like to be appreciated …more than just once a year!

Ongoing, simple but sincere gestures – however small – towards each of your team members that demonstrates your gratitude will certainly be a factor in creating an engaged workforce.

Like what, you might ask?

Without understanding what’s important to the people in your team it can be difficult to get this right, can’t it?

Of course, there’s the obvious assumption that money is the answer. There’s no denying it’s important; I’m sure few would turn up for work if they weren’t getting paid for it.

But does money really engage people, or demonstrate our appreciation? (I know for sure I’d rather be given a bunch of flowers any day rather than a ten quid ‘bonus’ to go and buy my own!)

Finding out what’s important to people is really quite simple.

How?

Click here to find out