Year-End Reviews Preparing for and Delivering Reviews to Employees

Everyone looks forward to the year’s end for one reason or another – a chance to make new resolutions, or a company bonus. However, in order to determine the scale of wage raises and merit bonuses, we all have to get through year-end reviews. If you’ll be conducting some of these, check out our tips and tricks to help navigate through the next month or so.

Prepare Employees in Advance

The best managers and team leads communicate successes and areas for improvement prior to bi-yearly review time. What you communicate to your employees in a private review should not come as a surprise to a well-informed worker. In order to prepare your employees properly, send out a sort of worksheet that they can use to answer a few questions. This worksheet should reference the position description and include questions like:

  • What was your biggest accomplishment in the last 6 months?
  • What is your best strength, and how have you used it to improve recently?
  • What areas do you think you could use some help with?
  • What are your goals for the next 6 months? How can we help you achieve those goals?

Make sure you receive this worksheet back from your employees in ample time to review each thoroughly and make comments ready for review day. If there is a discrepancy between what your employee thinks of their progress and what your perception of their work has been, try to figure out why.

Prepare Yourself in Advance

While you’ll expect your employees to give a little in the way of conversation, you should be prepared with many talking points to keep the meeting rolling. Make sure to provide ample time between sections for questions and feedback. If you’ll be covering statistics and metrics, make sure to provide some context so that your employees know where they stand – if they’re excelling, make that clear. If your worker is lagging behind, make a plan to bring them up to speed and set them up with a mentor ahead of time.

Choose the Right Environment

One of the most important things you can do is to facilitate a non-threatening environment for your employees during review sessions. While you want to aim for professional, not casual, that doesn’t mean you need to set a sterile tone. Employees will be more receptive to both positive and negative feedback if they feel safe and supported. Let them know you’re here to help them succeed, whatever that means.

Follow Up and Request Feedback

This part may be best if employees are able to remain anonymous – if you ask them to put their names on feedback forms, your workers are less likely to give negative opinions; after all, you are their boss! Following up after quarterly or bi-annual reviews is imperative, especially if you made promises to assist someone in catching up. Follow through on any help you offered and check-in at regular intervals – this way, your employees don’t feel forgotten or directionless. 

Well-prepared performance reviews are an indication of a great employer-employee relationship. It is with this that you build an environment of success and support in the workplace. Take the opportunity this year to one-up last year’s reviews; both you and your workers will benefit from having a bit more direction and clear-cut goals to work towards.

Holiday Decorating: Office Style

If we’re all being completely honest, the majority of “holiday cheer” and the sought-after “holiday spirit” comes from all of the brilliant lights and decorations we see all around us! Driving through downtown the saplings may be strung with white lights; your city or town might even decorate a tall evergreen in the park! Decorated houses also spark joy, with their twingly lights, garlands and lawn inflatables. Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, it’s uplifting and might even spark joy in your heart to see inflatable snowmen and hear holiday music.

With all this being said, what better way to carry the holiday spirit with you than to bring it into your workplace? Positive attention to details like holiday decoration and themed treats are known to lift the office atmosphere and contribute to positive company culture. While it might seem like a great undertaking to decorate the office, it will surely be worth the smiles on everyone’s faces.

Talk With Management

If you will be taking point on holiday decoration, reach out to upper management to see what ground rules there are. They might want to keep large nails out of the walls and avoid hanging items from the ceiling, for example. You may also want to ask what, if any, existing holiday decorations they have in storage – maybe a previous manager enjoyed decorating but no longer works for the company! Start off on the right foot, and don’t overstep any boundaries if you don’t own the space yourself. 

Be Prepared

Unless you’ll be using decorations already stored at your office, you’ll likely need to transport items from home or a department store. It’s best to take a look at your canvas, so to speak, in order to get an idea for how much you will need. Will you run string lights over the top of all the cubicles? Do you want a holiday village for the break room? Are there many windows that you’d like to decorate with window clings or snowflakes? Take time to make a list of the ideas that come to mind when you are observing your office.

If it’s within your budget and your vehicle allows, it’s better to have too many decorations than not enough. If you find you are left with extra items, bring them home with you or send them home with a coworker – spread the cheer!

Have Fun!

The whole point of decorating is to spread holiday cheer and help build positive memories. Try not to view decoration as a chore, but, rather a fun activity that you can get others involved in. Pick up a couple of boxes of sugar cookies from the bakery, a box of hot coffee from the local coffee shop, and invite some coworkers to join you! Don’t forget to play some peppy holiday music as you hang lights and decorate windows – that would be a missed opportunity!

Workplace Birthday Parties How to Throw a Memorable Party for Your Coworker

Birthdays are one of a few days a year that we get to spend solely on ourselves; as coworkers, we can choose to make this day special for others through any number of methods. By far, the most effective way to make a coworker’s birthday more than just another day at the office is to arrange a party!

Get the Okay

The first thing you should do when planning a party is to clear any festivities with your boss or manager. Some team leaders will ask that you set up a party during the lunch break, so as to not interrupt anyone’s workday. Other companies may welcome a come-and-go party with snacks and decorations set up all day. Talk to management before planning or buying anything massive.

Food and Drink

What would a birthday party be without snacks? The week before your coworker’s birthday, ask some probing questions about your friend’s favorite drinks and chips. What kind of cake would they like? Make notes of all of these things so that you can have their favorite things on hand!

Decorations

Depending on the space you have to work with – break room, empty cubicle, an empty office – you can decorate an area as much or as little as you want. Even a few balloons can lift the spirits in a small space. Check your local party store for decorations that might help bring a birthday atmosphere to your venue, regardless of the size.

To Gift or Not to Gift

It can be difficult to decide whether or not to spend money on a gift for a coworker. Depending on how generous you wish to be, you can do as little as a personalized card. Even though you might be footing the bill for the food and decorations, it will be nice for your coworker to be able to bring something from the party and keep on their desk. This will remind them about how thoughtful you were to set up such an event just for them!

Inviting Others

Don’t forget to let everyone in the office know about your intention to set up a birthday party for someone – after all, you’re not the lucky birthday recipient’s only coworker! While it may not be proper to ask others for donations to throw the party, some people may offer; this may make it easier for you to do a little bit more.

Office Card

Make sure to purchase a card with plenty of space for everyone to wish your coworker a happy birthday! Some people will simply insert their own name – others may wish to write a note of their own. Purchase this shared card a week or more in advance so that it has time to make it’s way all around the office. Try your best to keep it out of the hands of the birthday guest of honor, though!

Throwing an office birthday party is an amazing way to recognize a coworker. It’s easy to feel lost in the lull of the office as if everyone is the same. What a great idea to help someone feel just a little bit more special one day of the year – on their birthday.

Office Movie Nights The How-To and Why You Should

When you consider office functions, what typical things come to your mind? Some common things might be an office holiday party, Halloween event, or New Year’s Eve bash. Exterior functions and events can serve to boost team and company morale, so they are great additions to the event list, year-round. In fact, an incredibly unique way to spend an evening with coworkers could be to set up a movie party!

Planning

Depending on the space available and employees to attend your movie night, you may need to do some rearranging of seats and furniture; do you need to move a flat-screen from another part of the office? Will you be using a projector? If so, how will it be best set up so that everyone can see properly? What hardware will you be using to play the content? Do you need extra HDMI cables or any adaptors for the display device?

Speak to your employees in advance to see who might be interested – get a head-count so that you have ample space and snacks! Will you be asking employees to bring their families? If so, make sure to choose an age-appropriate movie or inform employees what you’ll be playing; this way they can make executive parental decisions as to whether or not to bring along the kids.

Pick a Movie, or Take a Poll

It can be fun to let the employees pick a movie if you have plenty of time to narrow things down. Take a fill-in-the-blank poll, and see what comes to people’s minds. As you get closer to the movie night, select the most popular and take a new poll – ask everyone to rate their picks from one to last. This may help you decide what to put on the big screen if you’re stuck; remember, you can always plan another movie night later on in the year to watch another crowd-pleaser!

Get Snacks!

The large majority of people far prefer watching a movie with a snack to munch on – just picture the movie theatre! Check out your local dollar store for chips and candy; this is a great way to get lots of food if you’ll have many guests. Don’t forget to pick up drinks! Soda and lemonade are nice, but you’ll need ice, too. Pick up some bottled water so that everyone can have something to drink during the movie.

Allow Ample Time

Since the aim of an office movie night is really to bring coworkers closer together in a less formal setting, you should dedicate some down-time for chatting. Inform employees that snacks will be out fifteen to twenty minutes before the movie starts – this will encourage people to show up before the movie starts! Hopefully, everyone can mingle and get to know any new faces or family members that have tagged along.

Above all, have fun! This is definitely a unique and under-used method to boost company and team morale. Everyone loves a good movie, and movies are best shared with family and friends – those we spend the most time with each and every day. Have fun with this event; get employee input on the excitement level for the event, and ask how they enjoyed time with their coworkers. If you find that it went well, consider another movie night next quarter!

Gratitude: Showing Clients You Care

As a business owner or team leader, you already know how pivotal your client base is to your operation. After all, your customers are what keep your business afloat! Customer appreciation days are widely practiced due to their remarkable ability to increase sales and revenue, all while boosting customer and employee morale. It really is in every company’s best interest to give a little bit back to the consumer.

What Can You Do

Depending on your business, you can take this project in any number of directions. Large corporations can start by reworking automatic emails and by speaking to representatives on what sort of tone should be carried in conversation. Restaurants usually succeed at customer appreciation by running an appreciation day once or twice a year – for this, you could lower prices and offer a raffle prize!

Smaller businesses who are on first-name bases with customers have a wider range of options. Send out custom cards, thanking your clients for their continued participation in your business. Consider handwriting some or all of the cards so that they bear more weight. If this isn’t possible, select the top percentage of your clients – those that bring in the most profit.

Consider running statistical analyses from before and after your customer appreciation experiment. While it’s nice to see the benefits firsthand, always remember to keep sincerity and honesty at the core of your company values. The only thing worse than failing to show appreciation to your clients is to go too far and appear forceful or cheesy. 

Can’t find the right words to recognize clients on your own? Here are a few tried-and-true ideas to help you brainstorm what might be best for your particular business:

  • Offer coupons and gift cards either through physical or e-mail. Customers will feel like you thought specifically of them. Be sure to thank clients for their ongoing patronage in your message.
  • Run a Twitter campaign if you have a social media team up to the task. Hashtag your brand name and some short slogan that describes what you’d like to portray to your loyal customers.
  • Offer special rewards, free items, or heavy discounts on a customer’s birthday. You can automate these things if your client base is large, but don’t forget to make the message feel personal and thoughtful.
  • Run a customer spotlight weekly, or even more often. Recognize customers for doing good deeds or using your product to help others.

The great thing about customer appreciation is that you can make it as elaborate or as simple as you like. From extra smiles on cashiers to free beverages on birthdays, the possibilities are endless. Your clients will love the recognition and genuine interest your company shows. It’s in every business’s interest to invest in a customer appreciation campaign.

For more ideas, check out our services 😉

Congratulating Co-Workers

Exciting happenings will occur in your workplace quite frequently: new babies, promotions, engagements… etc. It’s always nice to hear a simple “congrats” from your co-workers, but sometimes it shines a bit brighter under different presentations. The situation for which you are offering congratulations will determine what might be appropriate.

Milestones

While reaching certain milestones in life may seem like a celebration-worthy event from outside, some people struggle with these moments. Turning fifty, for example, would be a perfect time to congratulate a co-worker who has a positive outlook on the rest of their life. Make sure to be delicate in your wording of notes and messages to peers who might not feel the same way you do about aging.

Office parties are a great way to get everyone excited about your co-worker’s milestone! Buy a cake, have it decorated, and maybe purchase a small gift that commemorates the event. Have the whole floor sign a fancy card!

Engagements and Weddings

What an exciting time for your co-worker! Elaborate congratulations and even asking questions would be a great place to start. If you are able to, offer to purchase something on the wedding registry when it becomes available, or offer a small token of your excitement for the two. Marriage is an amazing part of life for those that choose to follow that route.

Pregnancy Announcements

A common rule of thumb with offering congratulations is to match the co-worker’s excitement. Some topics will be touchy and you might not even know it! Read the expressions and emotions of the person you will be congratulating to make sure you don’t offend. For example, your co-worker may be terrified to find out they are pregnant or that their partner is expecting. Depending on the situation, you can offer your assistance and advice.

Births

Whether it’s your co-worker’s first child or following, the birth of a newborn is both an exciting and stressful time. Many people will take some time off to be with their new addition, so be sure to have something prepared for when they return. One great idea might be a baby book, signed by you and the rest of your team. New parents are always in need of diapers, and it’s always a welcome gift. Not sure what size to buy? Size one diapers will definitely fit within several weeks of a baby’s birth unless they were prematurely born. Another tried-and-true gift would be baby onesies – new parents go through far more of these in a day than imaginable. Anything that extends laundry day is a lifesaver.

Career Achievement

Promotions and other recognitions are the perfect opportunities to make an elaborate celebration event. Office parties with food and tasty treats will help lift the mood, bringing attention to your co-worker. Coordinate with those around you to make your peer feel special! Perhaps you could even work with your boss to get a certificate of recognition created that can be gifted at the office party. 

Above all, however, it’s important that your words and actions are true to you. You and your co-workers are close; you work together more hours than you see your family members sometimes. It’s kind and thoughtful to go out of your way to congratulate these people in your life on their achievements and milestones. No matter how you do it, it will be appreciated if it comes from the heart.

Delivering Positive Feedback: Helping Your Co-Workers Succeed Through Positivity

Have you ever been asked to conduct a peer review? It’s probably one of the toughest and most dreaded things you can face as an employee – often we don’t feel in the right position to be offering feedback to our peers. Contrary to what you might initially think, you are, in fact, uniquely qualified for this task! In fact, even if you aren’t explicitly asked, you should always be looking for ways to build up your team members. Offering useful, constructive criticism is a great place to start.

One of the first things you should admit to yourself is that you may have more experience with how a peer works on a day-to-day basis – how they react to stress, large projects, or negative customer interactions. How often do they require assistance or ask for help without going to a manager? Your daily experience working with your peers is uniquely valuable to your superiors!

Don’t Be Vague

While a general pat on the back can make someone feel good, it won’t necessarily point out what their strengths are. Give as much detail within your verbal or written feedback as you can; discuss how you observed their strengths play into this positive outcome. Encourage your peers to harness more of what is being praised in the future!

Don’t Shy Away

Often, we may notice an area for improvement in our peers – if it’s obvious that someone is struggling with something, it’s in no one’s best interest to stay silent. Finding the perfect way to word constructive criticism can be hard, but that shouldn’t stop us from offering it. Feedback should always be delivered with the improved performance of the individual in mind; you are here to help them identify how they can use their strengths to tighten up the loose ends.

Don’t Patronize

If you do need to deliver some constructive criticism, skip the “sandwich” approach (delivering a negative tidbit in between two positives). This tactic is always obvious, and it can be received quite poorly by some people. While a “sandwich” may seem to lessen the blow, it can actually bring down the recipient even further. Choose instead to level with your peers, taking an approach more like this: “here’s what’s happening, and here’s how we can leverage your strengths to fix it”.

Keep it Professional

Some people are simply more likely to take criticism personally than others – in those cases, try your best to be gentle in your approach. Others, however, are extremely open to new ideas and love hearing that others are invested in their success. Keep in mind as you formulate peer reviews, or consider providing feedback, that your comments should only address this person’s work. This will help the recipient not feel attacked or targeted in any way.

Positive peer feedback can help create a great company culture where employees feel supported and cared for by their peers. While comments from supervisors are nice, knowing that your team members care about your success can improve performance and inspire confidence. Take every opportunity you can to build up your coworkers – even outside of peer reviews.

Writing the Perfect Thank You Card: Tips, Tricks, and Occasions

Not sure if you should write a thank you note? Confused about what to write inside your card? Play it safe and do some homework before diving right in! A well thought out thank you card will mean more to someone than a “thanks” in person, so it’s incredibly important to get it right the first time around.

When Should You Send A Thank You Card?

One of the greatest tools for card-sending is: if you aren’t sure, you probably should. If you find that the occasion in question is not on the following list, send one anyway! Recipients are generally thrilled to feel appreciated through something even as simple as a thank you note – your words will not fall upon deaf ears.

Baby (or Bridal) Shower

You should definitely send a thank you note as the expecting mother or bride-to-be, to at least those that brought you gifts. It’s incredibly generous for someone to pick out, make, or collect items for you or your coming baby! Make sure to reference the gift you were given and say something about how you will use it.

Wedding

As the newly-wed couple, it’s customary to send thank you cards to all who attended your wedding. Even if someone did not get you a gift, it’s nice to thank them for bearing witness to your matrimony; explain how it was important to you that they were able to attend and enjoy the day with you! For those who sent you gifts, don’t merely thank them for the gift – again, explain how happy you were to see them at your reception and ceremony.

Job Interview

You should always take the opportunity to thank your interviewers for their time – after all, you did get the interview! Sending a thank you note can allow you to reiterate your strengths and follow up on any questions they might have had during the interview. A candidate who sends a post-interview note shows more personability and dedication than someone who doesn’t send one.

Birthday and Dinner Parties

If you recently had a birthday party or attended a dinner party, it is customary to send a thank you note. Thank everyone who attended your birthday party, making reference to any gifts you received. For a dinner party you attended with a family member or friend, thank them for hosting you and feeding you!

Funeral Gifts and Donations of any Kind

As with any other gift, you should consider sending a thank you card to those who contributed to the beauty of a funeral or the health of your business. While it may be difficult for you to send out thank you notes immediately after the loss of a loved one, feel free to take time before sending your card – no one will blame you.

Graduation Party

Graduation is an exciting time for you! Whether you have just finished high school or a master’s degree, your achievement is something to celebrate. As with any of the previous occasions, it is best to thank someone for a gift they brought you.

Other Situations

  • Receiving a letter of recommendation
  • Getting accepted for or finishing an internship
  • Receiving an award
  • Acknowledging inspirational teachers
  • Influential people in your life – coaches, parents, mentors
  • Hospital staff who helped you recover
  • Whenever you feel that a verbal thank you isn’t enough!

6 Strategies to Increase Company Morale

With the changing seasons and upcoming holidays, you may be wondering if there are strategies you can implement, to help boost morale among your staff. You might have some ideas or recognition practices in place, but you’re looking to do more. Today, we’ll highlight a few suggestions that you can pursue throughout this fourth quarter, to foster an environment of loyalty and fulfillment within your teams.

Company Sponsored Lunches

Surprise your teams with a company-sponsored lunch or two this holiday season. Maybe bring in pizzas for a job well done or completion of a recent project. Cater a full spread from a favorite local restaurant as a sign of appreciation for their loyalty. Get creative and try bagels as a breakfast treat. Decorated cookies are fun snacks that employees can also take home to their families. Give the gift of food as a simple yet effective method of improving morale.

Celebrate Milestones

Recognition for anniversaries, pivotal milestones, or recent accomplishments can solidify with your teams that you appreciate them. Send companywide emails or announcements to shine a spotlight on an employee’s achievements. Offer plaques with plated name recognition and display them in common areas. Consider supplementing these announcements with handwritten cards, signed by all, and a gift card as an additional gift. You’ll be providing direct recognition to the recipient, but will also set the tone for the others, that they too can expect their moment in the limelight for working hard.

Thoughtful Gifts

Companywide efforts to boost morale should be fair and consistent for everyone. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate thoughtful, more personal gifts as well. For example, if someone on your staff is an avid football fan, consider gifting a mug or tee shirt featuring his or her favorite team. Specialized gift-giving can create authentic connections among your ranks. Employees who feel connected to their companies and managers are more fulfilled in their roles.

Health & Wellness

Jumps start morale by offering a host of health and wellness perks to your employees. Free or discounted gym memberships are popular corporate gifts. You can also scale down and implement periodic breaks throughout the day to encourage individuals to walk around and get up from their desks. Keep a common kitchen area stocked with complimentary water, fruit, or health-conscious snacks. Show your teams you care about their health and wellness, even when they’re on the clock.

Charity & Sponsorships

Listen to your teams and create a list of causes and sponsorship opportunities that are important to them. Increase morale by supporting an employee’s child recreational team. Offer to be a drop off location for a school supply, or coats drive. Your staff will recognize your efforts to align the company with charities that matter to them. You’ll also be promoting your corporate responsibility as an organization. Today’s workforce responds favorably to companies that give back. But, don’t just donate to any charity. Instead, donate time and resources to those your teams cherish the most.

Work Environment Upgrades

If it’s feasible, consider remodeling or upgrading common areas. If you’re in an office setting primarily, maybe renovate a break room and buy a few new appliances. If you’re more warehouse or field-based teams need a boost, maybe upgrade some of their tools or technology. Employees will take notice that your company is investing in making their jobs more efficient, or their environment more conducive for operation. The response will be an overall improvement in morale.

Remember, taking care of your team means making sure they are happy and challenged in their roles. They are your front line to company success. Tap into some of these suggestions, to help end your 2019 on a morale-boosting high note.

11 Brilliant Co-Worker & Employee Gift Ideas for Holiday Exchanges

Every year, you and your co-workers attempt to organize gift exchanges. Or, maybe you don’t necessarily have a company-wide policy, but typically try to exchange gifts with a few key work pals. You may be looking for unique presents that are appropriate for the work environment. We’re here to help. Today, we’re highlighting eleven brilliant gift ideas suitable for co-workers and staff.

Monthly Subscription Goodies

Consider showing your appreciation for staff by offering monthly subscription deliveries of goodies. You can help boost morale and provide the gift that keeps on giving every month. There are a host of snacking subscriptions available, but check out ThanksCrate.com for some great ideas.

Kitchen Accessories

Dish towels and holiday-themed oven mitts can be great gift ideas. Consider stuffing the mitt with snacks or dry baking mixes. You’re sure to please your cooking enthusiast co-worker and stay within your price point in doing so.

Mugs, Thermals & Travel Cups

You may have employees or work friends who are rarely seen without a beverage in hand. You can offer these folks new mugs or travel cups to put in their usage rotation. Splurge a little and invest in some of the heavy-duty thermal mugs as well.

Graphic Tee Shirts

If there’s a comedian in your circle of staff or any fans of movies and music, you might offer graphic tee shirts or sweatshirts in a favorite genre. Remember to keep it clean and avoid offensive topics. But, finding that ‘new dad’ shirt or Star Wars themed hoodie, might be the best gift they receive.

Winter Wear

If you’re in an area with routine inclement weather, you’re always safe to gift winter-related wearables. Stocking caps, gloves, and ice scrapers are functional and handy gifts that almost anyone will enjoy receiving.

Favorite Candies

You might have that one co-worker who is constantly snacking or has the communal snack drawer from which everyone grazes. Buy a holiday stocking and stuff it full of favorite candies, just for them.

Desktop Accessories

You may work in an office environment with plans to exchange with fellow cubicle or desk masters. There is a variety of fun and unique desktop gifts available. Consider finding fun mousepads, picture frames, or writing utensils.

Technology Gifts

Do you have techie employees or co-workers on your list? Maybe new earbuds, portable chargers, or screen cleaning kits are in order. Depending on your price point or spending agreements, gifting new and cutting edge, tech-related items might be the perfect gift.

Coffees, Teas & Beverages

Coffee and tea lovers always enjoy coffee and tea-related gifts. Visit a specialty shop locally or find new flavors online. Offer the beverages with a new mug or flavorings for a complete package.

Spices, Seasonings & Rubs

If you have a few grill masters in your co-working space, grilling accessories might be perfect gifts. Wrap up new tongs and partner them with a host of spices, rubs, and seasonings. Tuck them all in a fun apron.

Movie Night Bundles

Consider assembling a few holiday movie DVDs, some microwave popcorn, and candy. Gift wrap the entire bundle and present it as the perfect gift. You can stuff it with extras or gourmet popcorn varieties, as well. It’s a gift that sure to please even the pickiest of co-workers.

Don’t fret this year’s gift exchanging. Keep it light, personalized, and fun. If you still find yourself stumped this season, you can always resort to gift cards. Sometimes a movie pass, a card to a favorite local restaurant, or iTunes will be perfectly acceptable. For more tips and ideas for your company gift exchanges, contact us!