Many view Employee Appreciation Day like Valentine’s Day. It’s a special day of the year created by Hallmark to help foster unmet expectations. I joke, I kid, I’m here all week. But it does seem to put enormous pressure on one person to express gratitude to another person within an 8-hour time period, once a year.
At NLS we do many things throughout the year to show our appreciation (year-end parties, recurring smaller celebrations, chili cookoffs, promotions and salary increases, bonuses, PTO incentive programs (we pay you to go on vacation!), providing opportunities and paying for continued education, work flexibility, and the list goes on). We show our appreciation to our employees in multiple ways year-round, yet there’s this one pesky day set aside when we are “supposed” to say, “I heart you, employee.”
Yes, we’ll do loads of donuts, hear from leadership, and...fill in the blank. Just like Valentine’s Day, we’ll do something. But this one day cannot possibly express all of the ways that we’re grateful, thankful, appreciative, honored, humbled, and a host of other ways we feel about our beloved Do.Good.Work’ers.
Take our new CRUSH initiative for example. CRUSH stands for Creativity, Resilience, Understanding, Stamina, and Heart. In order for our employees to show up to work with the bandwidth to express those awesome things, they need more than just donuts and pizza parties. They need a company that doesn't just TALK about mental health or work-life-balance or [fill in the blank buzzword].
One of the ways we've put our values in action this year is by TRULY focusing on providing resources that help employees with "Financial Fitness" and "Mental & Emotional Fitness."
Those are initiatives that go beyond "our 4 walls" and can make a huge impact on our NLSers as real, live human beings ... not just as employees.
That’s something that’s HUGE for our employees.
It helps us focus on the people side of work so they aren’t so stressed out that they can’t perform the work side of work. We set a high standard for how our employees show up. Then help them meet and exceed that standard by giving them real handholds about real life.
So, yes, we’ll celebrate Employee Appreciation Day, just like many other companies across the globe. I mean, you want to do SOMETHING to show how much you heart your people (see Valentine’s Day reference above). But if the one day a year observance is ALL we do, then it’s fake. It doesn’t mean all that much.
I’m so happy to spend my workdays around a bunch of folks who aren’t fake. Who send more than a card one day a year. Who offer real help and hope as a ladder to reach expectations.
Don’t get me wrong though, I do really like donuts and pizza. Bring that stuff on too! But if we want our employees to take Employee Appreciation Day seriously and without skepticism, our culture has to be one of Employee Appreciation YEARS. All the years. All the time.
Jon Richards is the Director of Culture and Career Strategies at NLS. He considers himself a mediocre Ping Pong player and he owns 48 pairs of shoes and 27 coats and jackets (he's obsessed). Jon is skilled in Leadership, Business Process Improvement, Training, Counseling, using his GPS to get to places he should already know the route to, sarcasm aficionado, and has an MBA from Southwest Baptist University.
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