Engage employees by making celebration part of your culture

Engage employees by making celebration part of your culture

Ever work in a place where December was jam-packed with festivities – home-baked goodies in the breakroom, pot-luck lunches, nice group dinners and perhaps a blow-out party if this has been an especially good year. But then when January comes around, it’s all business, all the time again? If you truly want to engage employees, the act of celebration shouldn’t be a once a year occurrence sandwiched between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Instead, make it a regular part of your work culture. Here are three ways to do that:

1. Build a celebration habit.

Celebrations don’t need to include party favors, cake or a dance floor, as lovely as all of that can be. Taking small steps to make shared celebration the norm can yield strong results. A few years ago, my husband worked at a company where the CEO started each executive team meeting by asking participants to list a win from the past week. The win could be work-related or personal; it was up to everyone to decide what they wished to share. Breaking a sales record, competing in a triathlon or coaching your fourth-grade daughter’s soccer team to a championship was all fair game. Even when negative developments or challenges arose, individuals continued to list a point of celebration at the beginning of their respective updates before digging into the business discussion. The practice was a big boost to morale and helped perpetuate a positive culture. Think about how you can make celebration a regular habit for your team or the company overall.

2. Embrace public recognition.

Celebrating wins builds pride and loyalty, reduces stress and deepens employee engagement. Getting an email or handwritten note of thanks from your department head is great, because your actions have been noticed and matter. But adding an element of public celebration amplifies the recognition of that accomplishment. For example, a focal point of our annual coffee chat at the corporate office each spring is recognizing people who have gone above and beyond. We ask department heads to provide us with details and then call everyone up on stage, showcasing their individual stories. People receive a nominal prize in the form of a $25 gift card, but that is beside the point. The applause and widespread acknowledgement from others throughout the organization is the most meaningful piece. Many companies have service awards programs, and you can get creative with those as well. As detailed in this Entrepreneur.com story, Groupon employees receive a top-of-the-line, bright green Adidas track jacket for their first work anniversary that they can personalize with unique nicknames like “GroupMom,”and then add star patches for each additional year at the company.

3. Celebrate victories as they happen.

If you asked sports fans to delay the parade after their hometown team wins a national championship, they’d think you were crazy. So why should major wins at work be delayed until an annual recognition trip or end of the year awards ceremony? When your team scores a victory, celebrate in the moment. When I used to own a Public Relations firm, we’d bang a toy gong whenever a team member scored a major news story placement, prompting co-workers to gather and cheer that individual’s success. Deloitte has lunches bringing employees together with executive leadership to celebrate big accomplishments. Whether you supervise a team of two or two thousand, consider immediate acts of celebration – lunches, happy hours and other elements of fun – to reinforce the positive impact of those victories.

How does your organization celebrate success? Can you share how your accomplishments were celebrated in the workplace and the impact that had on you?

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