Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

Thanksgiving: A time for showing gratitude; or is that every day in the workplace?

employee recognitionBy Kristina Cleary, SVP Global Marketing, Dayforce HCM

U.S. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and after that, the holiday season will pick up, and soon the end of 2015 will be upon us. As we gear up for 2016, I find myself spending more and more time thinking about how best to motivate my team and demonstrate gratitude for their amazing efforts.

These days, things are going very well. In a recent employee engagement survey at Ceridian, I was extremely proud to see the overall Ceridian results so high, and that the marketing team’s results are some of the highest scores in the organization.

What was not surprising – and yet surprising at the same time – was an off-the-charts score for the willingness of employees to give extra effort in order to ensure the organization meets its goals. Ninety-eight percent! Unheard of! I was astounded. And yet at the same time, knowing the team and the level of commitment they continuously demonstrate, I really shouldn’t have been.

Whether your employee engagement scores are high, or at a level that requires more focus, the question for all leaders is still the same; how do we as leaders’ best demonstrate our thanks and gratitude to employees? It’s been proven time and time again that recognizing your people can have a tremendous impact on engagement levels. Research continues to highlight it benefits your employees, drives morale, and increases employee retention and productivity. According to McKinsey’s “Motivating People: Getting Beyond Money” study, praise and commendation from managers is the top motivator for employees’ job performance, ranked first by 67 percent of workers.

So clearly it is time to “get beyond money.” Isn’t it about time we start thinking about how to best recognize and reward employees? Let me share one lesson related to this I learned early in my career. One of the most influential leaders I had, sat down with me during my first week and asked me a simple question – “If I were to reward you for a job well done, what would that reward be?” As an employee, I was surprised a manager would even think to ask this question. However, the resulting understanding by my manager, and the future actions he would take to show me appreciation that was personally meaningful, would result in greater motivation and commitment by me as an employee – both to him as a leader and to the organization.

I have adopted this approach myself in leading my teams, and I’ve found that understanding what employees truly value when it comes to acknowledging their appreciation can have a huge impact on employee engagement and commitment to the organization. I challenge you to think about a time that a manager may have surprised you by truly demonstrating appreciation for a job well done, or for going the extra mile. I would hypothesize all of us have one particular example we can point to, and it probably encouraged all of us to perform better in the workplace.

So as we approach this holiday week of being thankful to our friends, family and colleagues, think about what actions you can take to ensure you are demonstrating gratitude – whether it be inside the workplace or out – and what is truly meaningful to the individuals and teams you are thanking. And why show gratitude only on Thanksgiving? Consider this a reminder that you should appreciate your employees every day of the year.

I would love to hear an example you may have of a time someone in your life took extra effort to demonstrate their gratitude to you, and the impact that it had. Thank you for reading and sharing your experience in the comments!

Kristina Cleary

Kristina Cleary is Senior Vice President of Marketing, Dayforce HCM at Ceridian. Kristina leads teams focused on Dayforce Product Marketing, Events and Industry Analyst Relations. Follow her on Twitter @KristinaCleary.

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