The little things that matter for worker engagement

At WorkersCount we measure sentiment daily using a fun mobile app.  Additionally, we ask a single Question Of The Day.  Recently we asked our users (who report-in from hundreds of companies each day) whether or not their employers buy coffee, donuts or other treats.  We were very surprised when 53% of our users reported “rarely.”

We shared these overall results with some of the many WorkersCount workers for their comments.  What follows are comments from 20 of them we felt were enlightening and insightful.  There are lessons for leaders at large and small companies, departments and working groups.

Pam-The small things matter. It is a way to thank employees for their hard work and it helps management bond with their employees. Pam shared about her group receiving bagels and cream cheese at end of the work week.

James-It’s not surprising that employees cherish the small things like food and refreshments. And it is disappointing to see such a high number of employers not taking advantage of this. In the end there is no excuse for not taking care of your employees or customers.

Karen-I agree. I buy bagels and donuts on the first Monday of each month. I also bring in birthday cakes and flowers. I think the most important thought is remembering to thank each one of my staff at the end of each day!

Tom-Treats are simply a method of demonstrating that employees are valued and that is all any wish to feel.

Fred-I believe that treats and food are even a substitute for a raise/bonus because it simply says employers care.

Terry-Treats are a great way to thank employees, it costs very little, but the payback is huge in morale. Personally thanking employees is, also, huge in showing your appreciation at work. But don’t forget to ask how they are once in while, they want to know they matter as much as their work.

Tommy- Saying good morning to each person and asking how they are today…and above all really listening...tells you lots of things…and yet personalizes each person’s day by making them feel you care about them.

Judy-In our office we treat ourselves. It would be nice if management would show a little appreciation with a treat now and then.

Sue-Our company has a treat day each month. We celebrate the birthdays and work anniversaries for that month. Everyone brings in a dish/treat to share. When we have a milestone birthday, we decorate their office/cubical with a fun theme. Our President will surprise us with cookies or Frosty Fridays on these occasions as well. We appreciate the treats and the atmosphere is definitely more relaxed and fun in these days, and yes work still gets done.

Kate-Many companies fail to realize the importance of recognition these days. They tend to focus on the negative aspects of their employees' work rather than what the employee have achieved. It is important to realize and reduce the negative aspects of someone’s work of course, but there is the important part about how you approach it. I know many who constantly feel stressed, unappreciated and aggravated in their work place because they never get a simple "Thank you" or a treat. This small gesture would change their feel for their work, their loyalty to the company they work for and their drive to prove that the recognition placed in them was justified.

Kathy-I don't call these things "treats", I call them "Thank You". As a mid-level manager, I don't have the authority to give a bonus or any other monetary recompense. I do have some input into the amount of the annual raise. I do, however, have the authority to say "Thank You".

Terry-Yes, we agree that the little things do matter. Providing treats to your employees shows that you appreciate them, which in turn puts them in a better mood. A better mood usually means higher productivity and more pleasant work environment.

Judy--I had a manager who thought that you should not reward people for the day-to-day. That's what a paycheck is for. He thought you should only treat for people who go above and beyond. I don't think I ever saw him treat anyone. I agree that it does increase the bond between management and employee, and it is a great way to say thanks for a job well done. That being said, he was one of my favorite managers I have worked for. He was a great mentor with a good sense of humor. I could always count on him to put a bright spot in the day.

Dave--Treats do boost up the morale of employees. I worked for a real estate company where the managers were often stressed out from the job they had to do day in and day out - property management. Management was very supportive in having buffet lunches from time to time.

Hope--Treats do boost up the morale of employees. I worked for a real estate company where the managers were often stressed out from the job they had to do day in and day out - property management. Management was very supportive in having buffet lunches from time to time.

So at the end of the day, what we learn is that several things impact worker engagement and loyalty:

-Little thinks including sweets, coffee, and food... as a symbolic gesture of respect, acknowledgement and a bit of fun

-Those magic two words:  "Thank You" mean more than anything

-Many managers don't "see" the relationship between these small and relatively inexpensive things and the impact on worker enthusiasm, and "chemistry" in the workplace

Next time you see a big pink box in the coffee room of an office, look for the boss.  You can be sure that he or she "gets it" with respect to those little things. 

Conversely if you are visiting a friend at another company and you see pay vending machines for chips, candy and snacks, and pay vending machines for soft drinks and/or coffee.  Beware!  It's a sign that these "little things" are not respected or understood.

What's it like at your office?

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