How to Help Your Employees Find Purpose at Work

“Does what I do matter?” Every person on the planet wants to know the answer to this question. This is especially true for employees that are feeling unstable and uncertain about their future. Employees that have a clear sense of their purpose are more engaged, more loyal, and more productive too. Amidst the pandemic, your team is looking for hope. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that nearly one-third of all Americans currently suffer from depression and anxiety. As quarantine orders took effect, self-help book sales shot up by 39%. Man has been searching for meaning from the beginning of time.... Continue reading...

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August 31, 2020 8:55 am
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Working From Home is Here to Stay: Simple Tips to Make Life Better

I often state that psychologists sometimes “discover the obvious.” Since I am a member of that prestigious group, let me make the self-evident conclusion clear: working from home (WFH) is here to stay. Working with (and leading) remote employees is a fact of life we need to accept and learn to manage. Two Key Perspectives To effectively deal with, and successfully adjust to working from home, we need to acknowledge that there are (at least) two quite different perspectives on the issue: the employees’ experience and the viewpoint from the organization’s leaders. Many articles and podcasts focus on one or... Continue reading...

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August 24, 2020 9:00 am
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The Benefits of a Vibrant Workplace: Creating Harmony and Positive Energy at Work

Vibrant: full of energy and enthusiasm. Spirited, lively, energetic, full of life. The vibrant workplace connotes energy, positivity, and growth — characteristics we desire for the environment where we spend the majority of our waking hours. A vibrant workplace draws people to it — quality, talented employees want to work in a healthy context and became a part of the life-exuding process. Employees bring their own gifts and unique personalities to add to the synergy in a dynamic work setting. A vibrant workplace is the antithesis of how many work environments are described: negative, energy-sapping, and toxic to growth. Employees... Continue reading...

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August 17, 2020 9:00 am
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Preparing for a Storm – Lessons from Tornado Alley

As a country, it appears likely we are headed for stormy times. Why do I think so?  First, as a psychologist and social scientist, I’m trained to observe patterns in social behaviors that assist us in predicting future likely behavior patterns. Secondly, because I’m from the Midwest in the heart of “tornado alley” and we are experts in being able to see the signs leading to severe weather. And the two sets of patterns and conditions are quite similar. Stormy Weather I’m not going to go through all of the different circumstances that lead up to severe weather in the... Continue reading...

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August 10, 2020 8:55 am
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Building a Strong Team Culture: Valuing & Appreciating Differences in the Workplace

To build a successful and sustainable business, you need a team of employees who bring their unique abilities, strengths and perspectives to the challenges you will face. But to draw and keep talented individuals who have a variety of skills and personality types, you have to learn a key skill: You have to learn how to lead people who are different than you. Many books on leadership provide valuable insights into key skills and abilities needed to effectively lead others. But one concept that is not stressed enough is: to lead a successful team, you have to understand those who are... Continue reading...

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August 3, 2020 9:00 am
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Employees Are People, Not Just Work Units

Let me pose some questions for you:   *Are you a person or just a production unit?   *Do you have a life outside of work? (Think: friends, family, interests) *Are you a person, even at work, beyond your role there and what you get done? While performing one’s job as expected is critical, I firmly believe that people have worth and value no matter their level of performance. Every person is a unique individual created by God, and we all are intrinsically valuable—apart from what we do or accomplish. Many employees at all levels, including managers and supervisors, have... Continue reading...

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July 27, 2020 9:00 am
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Email Etiquette Refresher

A significant portion of our communication happens through email. This is especially true with current work from home set-ups resulting from COVID-19 where communicating properly and effectively through email is essential. Chances are, you’ve misinterpreted an email or had one of your emails misinterpreted at some point in your life. Email can quickly trigger unnecessary conflict. Here are a few tips and reminders to help you use email as an effective communication tool. Don’t read energy or emotion into emails. All you have in email are words, which only account for 7% of communication. The other 93% of communication happens... Continue reading...

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July 20, 2020 9:00 am
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Are You Running Out of Gas? How to Avoid Burning Out

Have you ever run out of gas on a trip?  From personal experience, I can tell you it’s not a fun experience. (Fortunately, the last time this happened to me was several years ago!) Similarly, experiencing burnout in life or at work is painful, as well. The two experiences are quite similar and ones you want to avoid. When your car runs out of gas, the event itself isn’t that bad – the vehicle just stops and you can’t go anywhere, but you can’t get restarted. The consequences that follow are what creates the disruptions in your life.  First, you... Continue reading...

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July 13, 2020 9:00 am
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Reflections: What Is the United States of America?

As a country, we are in the midst of a number of events which have upset our (until recently) normal, daily life activities. This unsettledness has created the opportunity to rethink “who we are” as a country – and who we want to become. I’m not the most reflective person, but I have been thinking about the United States – our history (good and bad), our current status, what makes us the country we have become, and how we are similar to and different from other countries (either current, or those in the past.) What is a Country? Countries are... Continue reading...

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June 29, 2020 8:52 am
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Want an easy summer read that will help you understand the challenges of working together during a crisis?

It’s summer time – which means “light reading” time. But we are also in the midst of difficult circumstances – working from home, team members spread out, and business / financial challenges. Sync or Swim fits into both categories. Through a fun, story format, you’ll be exposed to various personality types and how they often respond to stress, and you’ll learn practical ways to “pull your team together.” Humans are ‘hard-wired for a story’ and fables cut through complexity to reveal simple wisdom. In them we see our own predicaments and reactions, both wise and foolish. Sync or Swim is... Continue reading...

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June 24, 2020 11:31 am
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“The New Normal” – What are you expecting?

“We aren’t going to return to ‘normal’ – there will be a ‘new normal’” is a phrase commonly heard these days – from news media, economic gurus and business consultants. But what do they mean? What do you (or I) mean when we use the phrase “new normal?” I don’t think most of us really know. It is a phrase we are used to using, but rarely define. What is ‘Normal’ Anyway? We need to start by asking ourselves, “What does ‘normal’ mean?” What do we expect when we “just want things to get back to normal?” It’s a word... Continue reading...

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June 15, 2020 8:57 am
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Tips for Surviving Working from Home – From Remote Employees Themselves

Working from home (WFH) has moved from a short-term hassle to a longer, “this is life now” stage. The novelty is gone. The changes for the initial transition are in place. We now have to figure out how to make this scenario work for a while. Who best to learn from than other remote, WFH employees? We recently followed a group of WFH workers, having them fill out a questionnaire once a week for four weeks. We asked a lot of questions, and the results are just being published in Training this week. We inquired about their level of anxiety,... Continue reading...

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June 8, 2020 8:55 am
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Do You Need Virtual Training Resources to Keep Your Remote Employees Connected?

A core value to us at Appreciation at Work is to provide practical, low-cost resources to address the needs of our clients.  We are proud to announce the official launch of our new Virtual Appreciation at Work™ Training Kit — a brand-new feature to our Appreciation at Work resources. This year has seen dramatic changes in how and where people work. The past few months we have worked hard to adapt our Appreciation at Work training assets to make sure we are offering workable solutions to new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now you can be among the first... Continue reading...

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June 1, 2020 9:20 am
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Memorial Day in the Time of COVID-19

A typical Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. represents a variety of things to different people: A day off of work The beginning of summer Going to the lake Having a barbeque with friends and family The Indianapolis 500 Visiting family gravesites Veterans parades and celebrations Watching war movies This year has already brought substantial changes in our daily lives and this weekend will be no exception. Sporting events and parades are cancelled. BBQs and travel, if they happen at all, will look markedly different. I usually take time over the Memorial Day weekend to gather with my family and... Continue reading...

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May 22, 2020 8:27 am
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Change Goes Better When Staff Feel Appreciated

Change in the workplace is often inevitable. Previously, changes had to be made in response to external circumstances, like marketplace forces, or they were part of a larger institutional plan to create growth and improvement. Now, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, change seems to be the only constant in the workplace. Changes in the foundations of how we work and where we work are ever evolving and they can take their toll on employees — which leads to uncertainty, anxiety, resistance, low morale and more. The good news is, managing reactions to change can be made easier if... Continue reading...

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May 18, 2020 9:00 am
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Feeling Overwhelmed? Stressed? Emotionally worn down? Here’s why (and some tactics to help)

Are you (like me) feeling overwhelmed? You are “tired of this.” You don’t know how to make decisions because you don’t know what information to believe? Are you sick of all the “newness” in your life, and the constant adjustments you have to make as a result? Welcome to life in the USA COVID-19 2020. Stressed. Emotionally drained. Feeling unsettled. All of these reactions are normal, given what is going on around us. But they still aren’t fun. What’s Going On Let’s take a quick look at the factors that have turned our lives upside down: 1.Unpredictability and instability. In... Continue reading...

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May 11, 2020 9:00 am
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Encouragement, Support, and Staying Connected During Quarantine

Last week we conducted a small survey to see how our readers were feeling supported and encouraged, how they were supporting and encouraging others and what has helped them stay positive. We were overwhelmed by the positive answers and examples you gave us. First, we asked you: How much have you felt supported and encouraged by someone with whom you work since the COVID-19 crisis has developed? The average of all responses was a “4” (1 = Not at all; 5 = Extremely)! We were glad to learn that many of you are feeling supported and encouraged during this difficult... Continue reading...

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May 4, 2020 9:00 am
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How Do You Successfully Encourage Employees During Difficult Times?

Anxiety. Discouragement. Feeling disconnected. Worried about the future. All are currently common experiences for hundreds of thousands of workers in the U.S. We are told “we’re all in this together,” “we’ll get through this,” “it will get better soon” – all of which are true (to some degree). But almost all of us have moments when we are emotionally worn out, lose hope, and want to give up. Some of us cycle through these periods rather quickly, others linger in the dark space for a while, and some of us have difficulty climbing out of the cave. Enter: the need for encouragement and... Continue reading...

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April 27, 2020 9:00 am
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Spring and the Importance of Newness in Our Lives

Spring is late in coming in my part of the country. The mornings have been cold; the days are often cloudy and dreary. And Spring – the vibrancy and newness of life – has been put on hold across the country due to shelter in place and social distancing policies. Being able to get out and about, get together with friends and family, and go “do something” has been essentially written out of our lives. As a result, many people feel stagnant. Bored. Unstimulated. All of which can lead to depression and irritability. These feelings, coupled with the underlying anxiety... Continue reading...

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April 20, 2020 9:00 am
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Why Relational Connection Is So Important During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the need for social distancing, quarantine and isolation so that vulnerable individuals are not exposed to the virus and healthcare systems are not overwhelmed. Collectively, we understand the goodness of “flattening the curve” by each of us doing our part to slow the spread of the virus. COVID-19 is not the only epidemic we are facing. Separating ourselves because of COVID-19 comes at a time when America and many other nations are in the midst of an epidemic of loneliness whose antidote is greater positive social connection. Our current situation—the simultaneous need... Continue reading...

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April 13, 2020 9:00 am
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Newly Remote Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Snapshot of Their Perceptions, Feelings and Concerns

We recently initiated a research project to gather information from newly remote employees to assess their current life circumstances; their perceptions, feelings and behaviors; their top concerns, as well as positive aspects of their life currently. Study Participants Eighty-five newly remote employees responded to an invitation to fill out an online questionnaire about working remotely (88% Female, 12% Male). The questionnaires were completed within two business days (ending March 30, 2020), just after “Stay In Place” orders had been put in place for several states, and just prior to the Federal CARE Act being passed by the Senate. Interestingly, 41% of the... Continue reading...

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April 9, 2020 11:00 am
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Recognizing and Coping with Discouragement

You work hard, try your best, and still, things don’t work out as you hoped. You plan, prepare, think ahead — and yet, something unforeseen comes out of nowhere and creates another obstacle you have to overcome. Life, both at work and outside of work, is difficult. This is especially true now with shelter in place rules, kids at home, and new work arrangements. What is discouragement, really?  Discouragement literally means, “without courage.” We lose that fighting edge to “go get ’em” and attack the challenges of the day. We lose heart. We are worn out. We wonder if “it”... Continue reading...

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April 6, 2020 7:54 am
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Understanding and Managing Anxiety

Life in the twenty-first century is often colored by anxiety— not major, life-crippling anxiety, but those small, little worries about daily life activities and events. And now, with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, anxiety has been brought front and center for many of us. If we don’t take steps to combat it, anxiety can rule our days and distract us from the things we need and want to be doing. Defining Anxiety First and foremost, anxiety is fear. We are afraid we are going to become sick. We worry about our financial future. We are concerned about what... Continue reading...

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March 30, 2020 3:11 pm
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Appreciation and (Newly) Remote Workers

At this time of social upheaval as a result of the COVID 19 outbreak, it’s more important than ever to find ways to stay connected to each other. As we all respond to the ever-changing landscape of quarantine, social distancing, and new work arrangements, we wanted to share information about showing appreciation to one another while working remotely. This information was gathered as part of our research on virtual teams and people who regularly work remotely, and there are some valuable lessons we can use during this time to encourage each other. ********** Changes in our daily work cultures impact... Continue reading...

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March 19, 2020 8:45 am
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The Intersection Between Emotional Intelligence and Employee Appreciation

Emotional Intelligence is a big deal, and a lot of people across all fields have recognized its importance. Daniel Goleman labeled it the sine quo non of leadership. Travis Bradberry found high levels of emotional intelligence in 90% of top performers across a variety of industries. Actor David Caruso called emotional intelligence the “intersection” of head and heart. Jack Welch said that emotional intelligence was more important than book smarts in the making of a leader. Emotional intelligence describes a person’s ability to recognize, manage, and influence emotions in themselves and other people. It is the skill you use to... Continue reading...

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March 16, 2020 9:00 am
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How Authentic Appreciation Can Make You Less Busy

Busyness, especially unnecessary and unproductive busyness, is like the unhealthy rapid growth that can happen in living organisms like plants. Busyness eats up resources (time, energy, money) for activity that may not be healthy for the organization or its members. As a psychologist, I’m supposed to know something about behavior change, and how to help people change patterns of behavior and habits. One of the factors that we know improves the likelihood of changing behavior is if the new behavior is closely related to an existing behavior. So, for example, if you want to start an exercise program, you are... Continue reading...

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March 9, 2020 9:00 am
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Any Day of the Year Can Be Employee Appreciation Day

This Friday, March 6th, is Employee Appreciation Day. And while the team at Appreciation at Work certainly applauds the thought, we want to encourage our readers to consider that authentic appreciation is something that can and should be practiced every day of the year, not just on a single, designated holiday. At the core of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace is the knowledge that team members will feel valued when appreciation is communicated: regularly, through the language and actions important to the recipient, in a way that is personal and individualized, and in a manner that is... Continue reading...

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March 2, 2020 9:00 am
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Dealing with the “Weirdness Factor” in Appreciation

Feeling “weird” about communicating appreciation among team members is normal (especially if the group has just gone through training together on the 5 languages of appreciation). This “weirdness factor” is a common reaction when the appreciation languages are first introduced and teams begin to implement the concepts. What are common signs of people feeling “weird” about the appreciation process? Fear. Fear that others will think you are communicating appreciation “just because we are supposed to.” Fear that people will think your communication is not authentic or genuine. Fear that your encouragement won’t go well or be received positively. Awkwardness. We... Continue reading...

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February 24, 2020 9:00 am
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Neutralizing Negativity in the Workplace

At Appreciation at Work, our focus is on building positive, healthy relationships in the workplace, and we largely do this by helping people learn how to communicate authentic appreciation, build trusting relationships, and relate to others in a respectful way. But we also have to deal with life as it exists, and another avenue to building positive relationships is to address the issues that interfere with that process. Negativity is one of the most common, and deeply ingrained, obstacles to a healthy work environment. When working with front-line employees, supervisors and mid-level managers in a variety of industries, a frequent question... Continue reading...

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February 17, 2020 9:00 am
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When Should You NOT Communicate Appreciation?

While we obviously encourage leaders and colleagues to show appreciation to their coworkers, and seek to train teams to do so effectively, there are times and situations when we recommend not communicating appreciation (or, at least, to wait). That is, communicating encouragement to your colleagues is sometimes not the best course of action to take. In fact, doing so can actually backfire and create more problems relationally. Here are some circumstances when you should reconsider whether or not to proactively communicate appreciation to those with whom you work: When a relationship is tense. If you are in a work relationship... Continue reading...

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February 10, 2020 9:00 am
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