Reward, Recognition, and COVID-19

By on June 9, 2020
Reward, Recognition, and COVID-19

Let’s be candid. There exists in all of our minds, during these tumultuous times, various types of fear. They include:

  • The fear of COVID-19.
  • The fear of losing our jobs.
  • The fear of being unable to care for our families.
  • The fear of losing longtime friends.
  • The fear of losing teammates.

These fears sap our energy, our creativity, and our ability to stay focused on the work we are doing. They prevent us from being the fully capable workers we were just six months ago. I know some of them lessen my ability to do the work I do. And I am certain they have the same impact on all of us.

It would trivialize the impact of these fears to come even close to suggesting that by the snap of some magic fingers they could be made to go away. During this time in our lives they will not go away. But they can be held at bay. Things can happen that for a time restore our minds to a previous, much healthier state.

Here are a couple of examples of how this has happened for me.

  • My grandson calls and tells me he got an “A” on an advanced calculus class.
  • I get a note from a client telling me how much they appreciate the Lean training I have provided for them.
  • Out of the blue I get a gift card from a cousin telling me he really appreciates a favor I did for him last year.

What characterizes each of these? They were unexpected. They were simple.

And experiences like this are powerful. They snap our minds out of COVID-19 induced funks. I am certain each of us has had experiences like these.

The challenge each of us face is to take what we have learned from personal experience and use it to drive fear from our workplaces.

Cover of 1501 Ways to Reward Employees book.In my experience a great job aid to use to jump start our thinking on types of inexpensive unexpected things we can do to meet this challenge is Bob Nelson’s “1501 Ways to Reward Employees.” It is available for $11.24 through Amazon.

Here are just a few of the great tips Bob shares in his book:

  • Call an employee into your office just to thank him or her; do not discuss any other issue. (In this time of remote work, send this message in an instant message or e-mail.)
  • Post a thank-you note on an employee’s office door.
  • Write Post-it notes thanking employees for jobs well done and post in their work areas.
  • Go around work areas telling employees how much you value their work.
  • When you hear a positive remark about an individual, repeat it to that person as soon as possible.

And here are some simple, inexpensive methods my clients have used to meet this challenge.

  • Writing notes to employees telling them how much the company values their contributions to its success and mailing to their homes.
  • Having a space on a wall on which employees put up Post-It notes recognizing outstanding work by their fellow employees.
  • The plant manager regularly walking through production areas having short, focused discussions with individual employees, asking if there is anything she/he can do to take struggle out of their work, and thanking them for their personal contributions to the success of the company.

I have observed the ways in which fears of COVID-19 and its by-products inhibit the work of employees. And I know from experience that simple, inexpensive actions like these can drive back this fear, restoring in each of us the simple, invigorating pleasure of knowing that we are doing work that brings us great joy.

It is incumbent on each of us to make this happen. And when we do it will help dispel the fears that at this time in our history prevent us from making the full use of our capabilities.

If you would like to discuss any of this with me just call 314-303-0612. I would really value learning about your perspectives on driving fear out of today’s workplace.

About George Friesen

George Friesen serves as Business Practice Leader - Lean Manufacturing for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. He has led the College's Lean business practice area since 2000. Prior to joining the College, George worked for Maritz Performance Improvement Company. Over the past 35 years, he has served a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, specializing during the past eleven years in Lean Manufacturing, focusing especially on the 5S System, Lean leadership and thinking processes, Value Stream Mapping, and Lean team building. George is a graduate of Washington University (AB), Webster University (MA), and United States Air Force Flight Training.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login