Monday, December 9, 2019

The Greatest Gift to Give Workers This Year

By now, most people have heard of the Secret Santa.

He's the guy who passes out $100 bills to those in need. He often finds these folks at thrift stores, bargain aisles or anywhere else there is someone just trying to make ends meet. He knows they need some extra kindness at holiday time.

This year, he recruited Milwaukee bus drivers to help him pass out the money. Why? Because these bus drivers have a reputation of helping others. He thought they would make great elves, and he was right.

These bus drivers handed out thousands of dollars and raved about what a wonderful experience it was for them. They were there to see the difference they made in people's lives.

How many employees can say that about their jobs? How many go to work each day knowing that the world will be better because they swept a floor or entered data into a computer or drove a bus?

The cofounder of Fast Company, Bill Taylor, recently wrote an article called, "Do You Give Employees a Reason to Feel Proud of What They Do?"

He writes: "Everywhere you look, the competitive environment is more demanding than ever, which means that people at every level, and especially those on the front lines, have to be at their best, their most determined, every day. There’s no doubt that giving people raises can up their game, and I’m all for it. But I’m convinced that if you truly want people to elevate their performance, you first have to build up their pride. It’s much more likely that people will do things in exceptional ways if they believe deeply in what they do."

I've interviewed many experts over the years, and the one thing they can agree on is that everyone's job adds value. They may not realize it, but it's true. The person who works in a canning factory adds value because she's helping to ensure the quality stays high so that no one gets sick from the product. The bus driver adds value because he ensures that an elderly woman safely makes it to her doctor's appointment on time. The school janitor adds value because he keeps a school in good condition so that it's a positive learning environment for children.

The problem is, we often lose sight of why our jobs matter. That's why every boss should spend time throughout the year reminding each worker about why his or her job makes the world a better place. Why what they do matters, even if the job is sometimes dumb or boring.

As Taylor says, giving people more pay or bonuses at the end of the year is certainly nice, but the most meaningful gift may be simply telling a worker that what she or he does matters.

Monday, December 2, 2019

5 Holiday Gift Ideas for Co-Workers

It's that time of year again -- trying to figure out what to get a colleague for the annual gift swap (besides that giant bottle of booze in your grocery's discount aisle). Or, perhaps you want to get something for that great co-worker who has helped you out more times than you can count.

Here are some ideas for that team member on your gift list:

  1. Memberships. If your co-worker loves the local museum or zoo or wombat rescue park, you can't go wrong getting a membership so they can enjoy it whenever they need a wombat cuddle.

2. Office stuff. In a bit of irony, why not give the person in the office something from The Office? How about this Clue version of The Office:

3. Travel. Whether it's for work or pleasure, people often need something to keep all their stuff secure -- and dry. This Yeti bag may be just the thing for that co-worker who traverses the wilds of the Amazon or just needs somewhere to keep all his or her stuff while attending a conference on wombats.
4. Plants. It's been shown that greenery reduces stress, but it can be a bit difficult to go outside and enjoy nature when there's a blizzard outside. This plant is easy to grow (I have one and it has survived for the last five years with little assistance from me). It makes a great desk plant because it doesn't care who stares at it all day.

5. Charity gifts. If your co-worker makes it clear that he or she does not want anything for sustainability reasons (or simply because she is super picky and doesn't trust anyone else to choose a good gift), then think about doing good while also showing appreciation for the co-worker. A charity gift in a co-worker's name can "give back" through gifting a dairy goat or clean water to those in need.