Employee Appreciation Day happens on the first Friday of every March. It's a day when managers express their gratitude to employees, but it's also the most important time for skyrocketing the happiness and productivity of your team.
In an article titled "The Amazing Effect of Thank You," Jan Tegze explains the connection between gratitude, happiness, and productivity:
"Happiness makes people more productive at work, according to research from the University of Warwick, and this happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10 percent less productive. (Source: study)"
The correlation between employer gratitude, happiness and productivity might come as a surprise, but it's no surprise to the Danish. Self-proclaimed "Chief Happiness Officer," Alexander Kjerulf (who is also a Dane), says we can explain the magical combination that leads to workplace happiness with an obscure Scandinavian word: "arbejdsglaede" (ah-bides-g'lil).
The true heart of Employee Appreciation Day is all about arbejdsglaede (not just material gifts). In his motivational talks, Alexander Kjerulf says that arbejdsglaede literally means "happiness at work." In Denmark, when you achieve arbejdsglaede:
The only countries with a specific word for "happiness at work" are Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. For example, Japan doesn't have a word like this. Instead, they have "karōshi," which means "overwork death." In the United States, we refer to our jobs as "the grind."
Kjerulf points out that many people think arbejdsglaede is a joke. These people argue that "work isn't enjoyable." They say, "It can't be fun, and it certainly won't make you happy! That's why we get paid to do it!"
But really? Are you just working for a paycheck? According to arbejdsglaede, the reasons we work are a lot more interesting (and fun) than money alone. In truth, we work so we can feel happy and fulfilled!
Several years ago, a study surveyed 1,200 United States employees about workplace fulfillment. The results showed something exciting: The way employees feel has a greater impact on their happiness than the money they earn. In fact, approximately 70 percent of respondents said that their most meaningful recognition at work had nothing to do with money. Here's what the study found:
Jan Tegze says that when managers express gratitude, they improve their relationships with employees:
"Encouraging the practice of gratitude at work has a wide range of benefits, starting with making the manager a better leader if he chooses to express his gratitude, and continuing to improve the relationships between team members, colleagues, and co-workers."
If you're not on board with arbejdsglaede after reading the statistics above, a study that tested the effects of promising pizza to employees could change your mind. Betsy Mikel on Inc. described the study:
"After the first day, those who had been promised pizza had been more productive than the control group by 6.7 percent. And here's what's even more surprising. Those who were promised a compliment -- which was simply a text message from the boss that said, "Well done!" -- were neck-and-neck with the pizza group at 6.6 percent. The worst motivator? The cash bonus group, whose productivity increased only 4.9 percent compared with the control."Another telling indicator came a week after the pizza study. The cash bonus group experienced a 6.5 percent drop in productivity. Melissa Dahl on The Cut comments: "For the week overall, the cash bonus ended up costing the company more and resulted in a 6.5 percent drop in productivity. From the employer's perspective, a cash bonus is worse than offering no incentive at all."
What's important to note is the fact that having a "pizza party," with everyone joining around a table to eat pizza, drink soda and chat, is a healthy, community-building experience. The team gets to (1) relax and enjoy some tasty food, (2) appreciate one another, (3) feel recognized for a job well-done, and (4) celebrate their achievements.
Google doesn't use the word abejdsglaede, but it understands that employee happiness is vital. The tech giant received a 4.4-star (out of 5) review on Glassdoor and 89 percent of the reviewers said they would recommend working at Google to a friend.
To foster workplace happiness, Google gives its employees "material benefits," but it also uses "arbejdsglaede-fostering principals."
The perks that Google gives employees could inspire new ideas for your own company:
The perks above are amazing, but they're just material benefits. By looking through the lens of arbejdsglaede, "free stuff" helps, but it's probably not the secret to employee happiness at Google.
In the book "Work Rules," Google HR executive Lazlo Bock describes the ten rules that embody Google's workplace culture. Arguably, these rules create the support for abejdsglaede at the company:
Here's what Warwick University says about Google's commitment to employee happiness:
"Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%; they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off."
During the holidays, we give presents to the people we love. But everyone knows that the "reason for the season" is about sharing time and appreciating our loved ones. Employee Appreciation Day is the same. This is the day to express your appreciation to employees in heartfelt ways -- so they can experience arbejdsglaede!
At 2020 On-Site a lot of companies make an appointment for our mobile vision clinics to arrive at their offices on Employee Appreciation Day so their team members can get eye exams and stylish new glasses. Overtures like that go a long way to show your employees how much you care.
In addition, it's important to remember why we do nice things on Employee Appreciation Day. The material benefits are excellent and needed, but how is your company measuring up in the non-material world of arbejdsglaede? Employee Appreciation Day is about showing employees that we value their contributions because without them, we couldn't achieve anything -- and we certainly wouldn't be happy!
Interested in adding on-site eye care and eyewear to the ways you appreciate your employees? Contact us at 2020 On-site.