What About the Other 10 Months? Employee Appreciation and Satisfaction

November 25, 2015

Don’t get us wrong, seasonal beers, presents, time out of the office, and gluttonous amounts of comfort food are all things we can get behind. What we can’t get behind, is when companies use the holidays as their employee appreciation alarm clock. “It’s November again, we need to acknowledge these people…who’s gonna take care of this?”

Disingenuous, contrived appreciation is almost worse than none, and gift cards do not a satisfied employee make. Most employers don’t realize just how closely employee appreciation and engagement are linked.

Culture Matters

Whether it was purposefully and thoughtfully crafted, or you’re not even sure what it is, every organization has a company culture. Is employee appreciation part of yours? If you were to ask an employer if they appreciate their employees, you would likely get a genuine “yes”. However, if you were to ask their employees if they felt appreciated at work, the answer would likely be very different.

According to a Kronos survey, almost 60% of employees who have thought about searching for a new job in the past year reported feeling unappreciated or somewhat appreciated at their place of work. Appreciation has to be part of the culture, not simply a seasonal initiative.

Burnout is Real

Sure, most places offer PTO, sick days, and even unlimited vacation policies are becoming popular. So what’s the problem? We still haven’t addressed the real issue. People aren’t taking time for themselves and their personal wellness out of fear -fear of being replaced, fear their peers will judge them, fear of their work ethic being challenged.

Especially in the software development industry, burnout is a real issue. At Volano, we don’t simply offer PTO, we encourage our employees to take it. Don’t wait to see signs of burnout, it could be too late. Instead, create an environment where pressing the reset button and taking time off is encouraged. We choose to let employees know we consider it in everyone’s best interest for them to take time for themselves. Satisfaction isn’t compartmentalized; satisfied people make satisfied employees. Respecting your employees’ personal lives is one of the most effective ways to offer appreciation for their professional efforts.

All Work and No Play…

You want your employees to have fun and you want them to bond -that’s a given. So what do you do? You make a monthly, mandatory after work event! Wrong…so very wrong. These initiatives should be on your time, on your dime. Workplace satisfaction benefits everyone, don’t work against yourself by making your initiatives a burden or inconvenience to employees.

Here’s a clue, when you announce an after hours event and the only replies you get are what your employees will have to do to make their schedules accommodate said event, they aren’t stoked about it.\

Dedicate just 1-2 hours per week for fun. This is where you pull up your calculator and figure out how much in labor this will cost you. Put the phone down and reflect on what you already know about the ROI of employee engagement, satisfaction, appreciation and the importance of positive work relationships. That’s your return, not to mention a better environment to be in 40 hours of the week.

So, at 4 on Fridays, we break to have a beer, play some darts and unwind together. It’s not mandatory, employees can leave early if they want to, but most of us stick around because it is a really uplifting part of the week that sets us up for a positive release for the weekend.

Employee facing company values are just as important as your customer facing values. Although this is a relatively new concept in business, it is an evolution that we feel strongly about, here at Volano. In fact, “Be Fun” is one of our 5 company values and if you work here, you might just be lucky enough to be on the Fun Committee. They’re the folks who help plan parties, order the kegs pizzas, and call a quick break for a game of bags.

We usually take this time to reflect on what we’re grateful for, but how about a twist on that tradition. How about considering if what you do as a leader will wind up on that list for someone else.

Everyone at Volano wishes you a happy and entirely unhealthy Thanksgiving Day.