IES: Taking Note of Vital Team Members

The Flagship story yesterday about the high number of people quitting jobs prompted thinking about ways, beyond monetary increases and bonuses, to engage employees. Obviously, there are so many books on employee retention with lots of ideas. 

Today, let’s focus on just one possibility to let your most vital people understand just how vital they are to you – beyond paying them a properly-valued, market-competitive salary and bonus packages. The idea? Handwritten notes. 

It’s Right to Handwrite

We’ve had a slide in our standard innovation and employee engagement deck for years linked to Doug Conant, the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup. To create a culture that would celebrate how employees contributed to learning and success, Conant began handwriting notes to employees at Campbell’s. Articles about this practice report that he ultimately wrote upwards of 30,000 notes to employees. Employees kept and posted the notes that recognized them for specific ways they contributed to the company’s performance. And given  that Campbell’s only had 20,000 employees at the time, repetition was another aspect of Conant’s employee engagement strategy.

I know from personal experience about the impact and attachment to handwritten notes. I’ve kept a smile file for years that’s largely filled with handwritten cards and notes from people that I’ve worked with. 

The impact of this personal gesture of recognition is backed up in a 2021 survey. A 2000-person survey by Bond, a handwritten note service, highlights the opportunity for using handwritten notes to stand out and create more meaningful connections with employees than simply a call, email, or in-person comment. 

  • People don’t receive many handwritten notes
    • A third of people in the US haven’t received a handwritten note in the past year. Forty-two percent receive fewer than three. 
  • People in general crave handwritten communication 
    • Sixty percent of respondents wanted to receive more handwritten notes, and a comparable percentage replied that a handwritten note from a company would increase their favorable perceptions about the organization. 
  • Millennials  (those born between 1980 and 1995) are especially keen to receive handwritten notes.
    • Half say they keep these notes versus 25 percent of those over 55.

Convenience and personal confidence in one’s own handwriting are barriers to sending handwritten notes. We also suspect that knowing what to write is another barrier. So, let’s address that with a suggested structure to come up with ideas.

A Content Calendar to Recognize Team Members

Thinking about varied thoughts on handwritten notes, we hit on an idea for a year-long (or maybe longer) way to recognize team members in a repetitive and meaningful way: use the holiday cycle to inspire possibilities for notes throughout the year.

Here’s the plan. During months that include holidays, use them as the impetus for recognizing employees in a way that ties to the date. Don’t publicize the link, though. Simply use it as a way to stimulate your thinking about what to write. Here are our thoughts:

January: Martin Luther King Day

Recognize team members who have stood up for change and fundamental improvements. You could also reach out to those who have changed you personally for the better by their examples.

February: Presidents’ Day

Send a note to those who have displayed strong leadership, launched new initiatives, or transformed struggling activities by applying innovative strategies.

May: Memorial Day

Celebrate anyone who has made a sacrifice in their expertise, time, and/or effort to improve things for the organization or its audiences.

July: Independence Day

Take the opportunity to recognize the independent spirits in the organization that bring new and fresh perspectives or find new ways to accomplish challenging objectives.

September: Labor Day

Thank those whose ingenuity and work make things easier on co-workers and customers. Encourage them to rest and relax for their own benefits, too.

October: Halloween

Recognize anyone whose creativity has helped to stake out new opportunities in the marketplace, make processes more efficient, or otherwise improved the way your organization does business.

November: Thanksgiving

Use this month to thank team members that you haven’t thanked and those you have previously for standout contributions they made during the year.

December: Christmas

Reach out and celebrate the ways in which team members have been gifts to the organization, their co-workers, and customers.

A Final Thought

You don’t have to write to every team member each of these months. The idea is simply to suggest a range of topics for handwritten notes to employees that you can look ahead to and implement throughout the year.

Are you up for the possibilities?

Links:

Millennials can be surprisingly old fashioned with communication, study finds https://swnsdigital.com/us/2018/04/millennials-can-be-surprisingly-old-fashioned-with-communication-study-finds/

Close Encounters: Leadership And Handwritten Notes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rodgerdeanduncan/2018/04/06/close-encounters-leadership-and-handwritten-notes/?sh=251e89cc3e96

Taking Note of Vital Team Members

The Flagship story yesterday about the high number of people quitting jobs prompted thinking about ways, beyond monetary increases and bonuses, to engage employees. Obviously, there are so many books on employee retention with lots of ideas. 

Today, let’s focus on just one possibility to let your most vital people understand just how vital they are to you – beyond paying them a properly-valued, market-competitive salary and bonus packages. The idea? Handwritten notes. 

It’s Right to Handwrite

We’ve had a slide in our standard innovation and employee engagement deck for years linked to Doug Conant, the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup. To create a culture that would celebrate how employees contributed to learning and success, Conant began handwriting notes to employees at Campbell’s. Articles about this practice report that he ultimately wrote upwards of 30,000 notes to employees. Employees kept and posted the notes that recognized them for specific ways they contributed to the company’s performance. And given  that Campbell’s only had 20,000 employees at the time, repetition was another aspect of Conant’s employee engagement strategy.

I know from personal experience about the impact and attachment to handwritten notes. I’ve kept a smile file for years that’s largely filled with handwritten cards and notes from people that I’ve worked with. 

The impact of this personal gesture of recognition is backed up in a 2021 survey. A 2000-person survey by Bond, a handwritten note service, highlights the opportunity for using handwritten notes to stand out and create more meaningful connections with employees than simply a call, email, or in-person comment. 

  • People don’t receive many handwritten notes
    • A third of people in the US haven’t received a handwritten note in the past year. Forty-two percent receive fewer than three. 
  • People in general crave handwritten communication 
    • Sixty percent of respondents wanted to receive more handwritten notes, and a comparable percentage replied that a handwritten note from a company would increase their favorable perceptions about the organization. 
  • Millennials  (those born between 1980 and 1995) are especially keen to receive handwritten notes.
    • Half say they keep these notes versus 25 percent of those over 55.

Convenience and personal confidence in one’s own handwriting are barriers to sending handwritten notes. We also suspect that knowing what to write is another barrier. So, let’s address that with a suggested structure to come up with ideas.

A Content Calendar to Recognize Team Members

Thinking about varied thoughts on handwritten notes, we hit on an idea for a year-long (or maybe longer) way to recognize team members in a repetitive and meaningful way: use the holiday cycle to inspire possibilities for notes throughout the year.

Here’s the plan. During months that include holidays, use them as the impetus for recognizing employees in a way that ties to the date. Don’t publicize the link, though. Simply use it as a way to stimulate your thinking about what to write. Here are our thoughts:

January: Martin Luther King Day

Recognize team members who have stood up for change and fundamental improvements. You could also reach out to those who have changed you personally for the better by their examples.

February: Presidents’ Day

Send a note to those who have displayed strong leadership, launched new initiatives, or transformed struggling activities by applying innovative strategies.

May: Memorial Day

Celebrate anyone who has made a sacrifice in their expertise, time, and/or effort to improve things for the organization or its audiences.

July: Independence Day

Take the opportunity to recognize the independent spirits in the organization that bring new and fresh perspectives or find new ways to accomplish challenging objectives.

September: Labor Day

Thank those whose ingenuity and work make things easier on co-workers and customers. Encourage them to rest and relax for their own benefits, too.

October: Halloween

Recognize anyone whose creativity has helped to stake out new opportunities in the marketplace, make processes more efficient, or otherwise improved the way your organization does business.

November: Thanksgiving

Use this month to thank team members that you haven’t thanked and those you have previously for standout contributions they made during the year.

December: Christmas

Reach out and celebrate the ways in which team members have been gifts to the organization, their co-workers, and customers.

A Final Thought

You don’t have to write to every team member each of these months. The idea is simply to suggest a range of topics for handwritten notes to employees that you can look ahead to and implement throughout the year.

Are you up for the possibilities?

Links:

Millennials can be surprisingly old fashioned with communication, study finds https://swnsdigital.com/us/2018/04/millennials-can-be-surprisingly-old-fashioned-with-communication-study-finds/

Close Encounters: Leadership And Handwritten Notes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rodgerdeanduncan/2018/04/06/close-encounters-leadership-and-handwritten-notes/?sh=251e89cc3e96

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