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When I first became a manager, my department had low morale, and the team I inherited was the most divided in the department. My director and I regularly discussed ways to boost workplace morale. Ultimately, team members—whose attitudes were not congruent with the positive, supportive environment I was creating—left the organization. This made a significant difference. Out with the old, and in with the new, right? I would like to share some of the “new” practices that made a difference for my team.
1) Begin daily or weekly team meetings with the “three good things” exercise. If you aren’t familiar with “three good things,” I recommend this straightforward guide from Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. The exercise is simple to learn and explain to team members. It is easy to implement in large and small groups alike.
The benefit: taking a moment to reflect on the positive outcomes from the previous day or week creates focus and encourages optimism for the day or week ahead.
2) Everyone enjoys motivational quotes, but different sayings resonate with different people. Designate a bulletin board, white board, or hanging photo-pocket collage with a favorite quote chosen by each team member. Display it in a common area.
The benefit: each team member feels a personal connection to his or her workplace and feels inspired by meaningful language every day.
3) This post goes into the most detail on quarterly thank you notes and small tokens of appreciation. If you are searching for a way to show your team or business bestie they are appreciated, try this thoughtful and budget-scalable solution.
The benefit: team members who feel valued and appreciated work harder to continue providing value to the team.
Quarterly Thank You Notes and Gifts
I am a big fan of both stationery and personalization. People feel special when they know that time was taken out of someone else’s day to brighten their own. The frequency of this practice is your choice. Quarterly was ideal for me as a manager because it kept the investment of time and finances low, while the engagement of the team remained moderately high.
The holidays can be a tricky situation to navigate with various cultural and religious backgrounds. However, everyone acknowledges the four seasons, so I associate my quarterly practice accordingly. I also very much enjoy stickers. A part of me wants to be a kindergarten teacher just to put stickers on everything. Fortunately, the rest of me tries to redirect that urge into something more realistic, like putting seasonally inspired stickers on my thank you notes.
I usually write something like this.
It is the first day of Fall! I hope you know you are appreciated every day, and especially so during this season of thankfulness. You are a valued member of the team. Please enjoy this token of my gratitude!
I also fill a small gift bag with four items of the following categories: office supplies, personal item, candy, and seasonal item. The cost is around $5 to $10 per person, and it is 100% customizable to your budget and your team’s interests. The cost is low enough to not raise concerns from union representatives monitoring alternative compensation.
These are examples of items I have included in the past.
- Fall – washi tape, apple or pumpkin hand sanitizer, Werther’s candy, small pumpkin spice candle
- Winter – Post-it notes, peppermint Chapstick, hot chocolate stirrer stick, snowflake ornament
- Spring – matching binder clip and magnet, pocket tissues, Cadbury egg, mini faux succulent
- Summer – highlighter, mini sunscreen tube, fruity gum, summer motif button
When to Splurge
Every once in a while, there is an occasion for a little splurge. Alley and Rae sells witty, screen-printed shirts. Our favorite tongue-in-cheek design for the workplace is this “I’m Not Feeling Worky Today” t-shirt. Browse their entire selection and I guarantee you’ll find something for you, your work partner, your best friend, and your mom!
To celebrate a well-deserved promotion, birthday, work anniversary, or the holiday season (which is creeping up on us way too quickly, I must say!), the gift worth splurging on is a high-quality Knack backpack. Touted as the only bag you will ever need for your daily commute to work or school, international travel, the gym, or even camping, Knack bags are thoughtfully designed with pockets and zippers galore, as well as compartments that expand and collapse to fit your needs. If that’s not enough versatility for you, they are also available in a variety of sizes and colors. Seriously, check this bag out!
What have you done to improve morale at work? What would you love to receive from your partner or supervisor in a quarterly gift bag? Hey, you never know who’s reading, so go ahead and share your wish list in the comments!