Want to Create a More Engaged, Inclusive, and Happy Workplace? Try These Tips

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People thrive on positive reinforcement – nothing feels better than receiving a compliment for a job well done.

What about those little day-to-day tasks that keep things flowing smoothly, though? Those are often forgotten in the shuffle, but the reality is, they deserve acknowledgment just as much as the big accomplishments.

What does this have to do with anything? Well . . .

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Tell Them and Mean It!

Your job for the rest of 2021 is to get into the habit of showing appreciation (authentically) to your coworkers. This will require you to actively seek out things that they are doing well. If your assistant does a stellar job, tell them so! Did your boss nail that difficult negotiation? Let them know it was awesome!

Do you (still) work remotely or have perhaps the toughest job of all – stay-at-home parent?

No problem! Show gratitude to those folks who typically don’t get a lot of praise, from the receptionist to the helpful sales clerk who went the extra mile. These verbal reinforcements not only give them a little boost they may have needed, but you will actively be showing your gratitude for a job well done, whatever that may be.

Make It a Habit!

When you get in the habit of acknowledging these positive acts, you, yourself, will find that you feel better about your life and how full it is rather than focusing on the things you don’t have. There’s something to be said for the power of positive thoughts and actions.

Try to show your gratitude toward your coworkers at least two or three times a week. After a week, you’ll find you’re doing it more and more without even thinking about it.

That’s the power of gratitude. It’s self-perpetuating. It’s an acquired taste but one that they will get used to.

On a side note, be spontaneous and have a little fun.

Everyone wants to have fun at work – even though everyone defines “fun” a little differently. Fun happens when people feel well-connected with a team where there’s mutual respect, open communication, acceptance of who people are, and everyone’s collaborating and working toward the same goal. When teams work well together, it makes it easier to be spontaneous and have some fun – whether it’s a last-minute virtual Zoom happy hour after a project launch or a brief pause in the afternoon to tell stories and have a few laughs over topics that have nothing to do about work.

Sometimes we all need a break from the seriousness of business.

Some Ways to Show Employees How Much You Really Care

Boss for the Day

Let an employee be “Boss for the Day” and proclaim a jeans day, or, in many cases, a pajama day, or make a speech at a virtual team meeting.

Virtual Lunch with the Boss

Take your employees out to lunch and let them choose the location. Do your best to keep work-related discussions to a minimum. Take this time to get to know more about what your employee’s interests and hobbies are beyond their work lives.

Impromptu Time Off

Spontaneous late arrival or early departure days are always a motivator. For example, send a quick email that says, “It’s a beautiful afternoon. Go enjoy it.”

Time off Coupons

Give out coupons for 15 minutes of time off as a spot award. Employees can collect them to add up to leaving an hour early one day or coming in late one day.

No Meeting Fridays

Remember significant events in your employees’ personal lives, such as a child starting kindergarten, and give them allocated time off so they can participate without worrying about being in a dreaded Friday afternoon meeting.

Thank-You Notes Are Not Dead!

An actual piece of paper that tells a staff member that you appreciate them, thanking them for their work, can go a long way in a digital world. Whether it’s as simple as a quick post-it note, an actual card, or a certificate, try cracking out the age-old practice of thank-you notes.

Start a Mentoring Program

A way to boost employee development. Build one that truly reflects the needs and wants of your employees.

It’s important to reward employees for a job well done. Recognition makes employees feel appreciated. You’re showing someone that their work matters. A little workplace appreciation goes a long way toward boosting employee morale.

Create Space to Discuss Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

It is vital to approach these topics with respect. Respect for its weightiness and nuance. Respect for centuries of pain and oppression. Respect for multiple perspectives and narratives: those that have been lifted up and those that have been pushed to the background. Respect for the person(s) you are engaging with. Race, racism, and the racial inequity it breeds are topics of discussion that can polarize a space very quickly. Coming from a respectful place that is open and willing to listen and learn goes a long way to diffuse potential discord before it arises and preserve space for meaningful dialogue.

We recommend free cultural diversity training.

Devin Hughes headshot
Devin C. Hughes

Devin C. Hughes is an author, speaker, consultant, executive coach, and an internationally recognized expert in the science of happiness, organizational/culture change and leadership development. He has lectured and worked with a variety of Fortune 100 companies, as well as the Secret Service, the IRS, and an assortment of profit and nonprofit organizations. Devin is the author of 20 books and has lectured in more than 15 countries. He lives in San Diego, California, with his wife, four daughters, and two rescue dogs.

Connect with Devin on LinkedInTwitter, and at www.devinchughes.com.

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