Updated: Jan 27, 2022
November is a month to give thanks. For businesses, this means giving back to hardworking employees. Last year, many booming businesses may have praised employees in the form of a thoughtful Holiday bonus—this seems less likely in 2020. Instead of bonuses and Holiday gatherings, businesses are thanking employees by helping them grow. This year, businesses will give back in the form of virtual training, skill development, and perks that promote physical and mental health. In order to deliver advancement specific to a business’s employee base, companies must conduct surveys to uncover employees’ needs.
The new and pervasive WFH lifestyle has redefined the average workday. So, what is the meaning of a successful workday? Is an effective day all about plugging away at individual tasks, learning something new, virtual networking, or improving overall health of employees?
“When people are used to evaluating their productivity locally, they feel that a good day is one in which they did their job well all day. When I worked as a programmer, that meant eight straight hours of programming without interruption. In contrast, if I was interrupted with questions, process, or meetings, I felt bad. Code and product features were tangible… Learning, by contrast, is frustratingly intangible,” writes Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup.
Companies have figured out that training employees and advancing their knowledge is productive. In response to this realization, businesses have organized webinars for online learning, career coaching, and virtual networking opportunities. These offerings have been found to close skill gaps for employees and get individuals out of their repetitive day-to-day tasks. The hope is that a day of learning or networking will improve productivity when it is time to work individually for eight hours.
This sort of training and employee advancement also opens dialogue for employees who want to train for new tasks or try new work methods. For example, employees might have an idea about a type of software that will help automate their work and relieve them of a tedious task. Making a person’s job a little easier can free up time for learning and innovation.
The other side of “giving back” or “giving thanks” comes with a focus on employees’ physical and mental health. First and foremost, remote work has revealed a more flexible style contrary to the standard “nine-to-five.”
“I know some companies have adopted a four-day work week or looser operating hours,” tells Tara Thurber of DefinedTalent. “This not only creates more of a work/life balance but can really alleviate the major stresses individual's may feel while also juggling multiple balls at once.”
Launching more flexible work patterns can allow employees to work from home in a way that fits in better with their schedule. What’s more, this practice certifies that remote workers aren’t being bogged down with a monotonous day-to-day. With a more flexible schedule, employers can weave in break times for physical activity and/or mental health. Establishing best practices for a day of remote work ensures a well-rounded work week where everyone is on the same page.
Taking the idea of mental health a bit further: Managers and business owners may also do something nice for employees on an individual level. Assessing the needs of an employee-base is often easiest after conducting a survey. Employees may reveal products or services that will help them to work more efficiently.
“I filled out an employee survey and asked if there was a possibility to receive a stand-up desk to get me out of my seated position all day long,” said Thurber. “Shortly thereafter I received an email that there was one available for me at the office. The team no only made sure I was updating my home/work life environment to be more productive and successful, they also met me at the office to help load it into my car!”
You’ve probably heard that you can’t always get what you want… If so, you’ve also heard that it is the thought that counts. Both cliches go to show that even if employers do something for employees, it can become just what was needed. For example, employees might not ask for free lunch over a Zoom chat—but who’d say no to a team video call with lunch delivery paid for by your boss?
This month employers should take any opportunity (no matter how small) to give thanks to hardworking employees. Managers and business owners can try hosting webinars for employees in order to promote online learning and networking. What’s more, conducting surveys or interviews with employees will help managers understand an individual’s career path or remote work tactics. In the end, a more flexible schedule with open dialogue can ensure employees are advancing their minds, bodies, and work methods.