Author Archives: Liz King

Employee Recognition: The Rise of Virtual Rewards

gThankYou! Employee TrophyA new study has shown that employees are increasingly favoring virtual rewards over those which come with a specific dollar value, according to research by gamification platform Badgeville, and employee motivation company Make Their Day!

What are Virtual Rewards?
Virtual rewards are ways of providing employee recognition without using financial incentives, and they’re currently thriving in companies nationwide. Virtual rewards can come in many forms, including but not limited to:

  • Praise and recognition from an immediate manager or peers
  • Opportunities for growth – such as leading a team
  • A better title/more responsibilities in the workplace
  • Reward for achieving workplace goals
  • Just plain fun!

Virtual rewards are often used through gamification; a process gaining popularity using the principles of game play in a non-game application. BunchBall provides a useful white paper on Gamification 101, if you are new to all this. Out of the employees surveyed, 88 percent said they find virtual recognition from their managers “extremely motivating”.

The Benefits
The report’s findings showed that 83 percent of employees felt that they got more satisfaction from recognition at work than particular rewards of monetary value. Not only that, but 71 percent claimed the most meaningful recognition they’d ever received cost nothing at all!

Cindy Ventrice, president of Make Their Day! and author of ‘Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works’ says: “The value of non-tangible recognition is clearly identified in our findings. Workplace technology today, such as gamification, provides many new opportunities for non-tangible recognition. With nearly one-fifth of meaningful recognition being delivered virtually, it is clear that these methods can be effective.”

Growing Popularity
According to Incentive Magazine, the research showed 70 percent of employees found rewards meaningful to them even though they did not come with a monetary price tag – that’s an increase of 57 percent from six years ago.

“It’s about status and employee recognition. They are giving meaningful virtual rewards for exceptional work. They deliver what employees and consumers actually want, which is emotional reward”, stated Gabe Zichermann, founder of Gamification Corp.

The study was conducted using responses from over 1,200 workers from a diverse range of industries to establish what drives and motivates them to perform well in the workplace.

Cryptocurrency for Employees
Perhaps you’ve heard of Bitcoin? It’s already been adopted by many merchants, and now companies are beginning to explore the possibility of using this cryptocurrency (digital currency) as a kind of reward system for employees.

One company, called Recognize, has already created a mobile app supporting Bitcoin as an alternative way to reward workers.

Mario Herger, the enterprise gamification scheme’s designer and Austrian Innovation Center’s CEO based in Silicon Valley, said: “Tangible rewards like  money can lead to disengagement.”

He went on to say: “Yet, there are a lot of scientific examples where giving people money rewards other than salary means that people are interested in going the last mile.”

That’s why Bitcoin seems to be one solution; it’s not really money, but it works well, if not better.

A Tool to Add to Your Recognition Program
Virtual rewards are proving a great way to yield satisfied and motivated employees in the workplace, so why not consider adding virtual rewards to your recognition program today?

Ken Comee, CEO of Badgeville said: “The results of the Make Their Day! study aligns to what we’ve seen across our customers deploying gamification solutions for workplace engagement, as well as numerous reports over the last few years on the changing face of what motivates employees today. Workers of all ages, especially the rising millennial population, are motivated by real-time feedback, fun, engaging work environments, and status-based recognition over tangible rewards.”

Remember, personal recognition by management should never be eliminated by virtual rewards. Instead, think of virtual rewards as an additional way to motivate and positively engage with employees within your company; and as a tool that’s particularly valuable for engaging millennials.

Does your company currently use virtual rewards?  How do they work in your workplace?

Want to learn more about the role of employee recognition for engagement and the long-term health of your business?  You’ll enjoy our FREE eBook below:

gThankYou! Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Trends in Employee Recognition Goals and Awards

gThankYou! Certificate of ExcellenceWorldatWork reports that more than 88 percent of organizations have recognition programs and 70 percent offer three to six different programs to recognize and reward employees. Their February 2013 Report, “Trends in Recognition”  surveys over 5,000 WorldatWork members and shows some very interesting trends in employee recognition.

The top three recognition programs in use in 2013 are length of service, above-and-beyond performance, and peer-to-peer. Programs to motivate specific behaviors are increasing and sales performance recognition is decreasing, having dropped out of the top five recognition programs.

Recognition – Top 5 Goals
WorldatWork’s survey reports the top five recognition goals as:

  1. Recognize years of service
  2. Create a positive work environment
  3. Create a culture of recognition
  4. Motivate high performers
  5. Reinforce desired behaviors

This indicates that employers’ top priority is to recognize loyal, long-term employees but also want to use recognition to improve their work environment and culture and drive motivation and behavior.

Recognition – Top 5 Types of Awards
The WorldatWork survey reports that the top five types of recognition awards are:

  1. Certificates/plaques
  2. Cash
  3. Gift certificates
  4. Company logo merchandise
  5. Food

This indicates that employers still believe that cash and cash equivalents are what mean the most to employees.  Research over the last several years supports that employees actually prefer gift certificates and gift cards, especially for practical items such as food. (For more, check out Incentive Magazine’s recent study: “Majority of Consumers Use Gift Cards for Necessities”.)

Growing Impact on Performance Management
In another recent study,  Society of Human Resource Management, along with Globoforce, surveyed 770 HR leaders who provided key insight into employee recognition trends. The survey found:

  • Employee engagement fueled by recognition is under utilized
    HR leaders say that employee recognition is key to employee engagement but engagement is underutilized and a top HR challenge. Less than half of survey participants track employee engagement levels, but those that do experience higher levels of employee and manager satisfaction from recognition efforts.
  • Employee recognition fills a feedback gap in successful performance management
    HR leaders feel that employee recognition programs effectively acknowledge employee performance even more than performance appraisals.
  • Employee recognition delivers ROI in key areas
    HR leaders reported that employee recognition increases productivity, customer and employee retention, employee engagement, return on profit margin, and return on equity. They reported increases of more than 50 percent in all these areas.
  • Employee recognition aligned with core values develops effective managers
    HR leaders see a strong correlation between recognition aligned with core values and more effective managers interacting with, engaging, and effectively recognizing the right behaviors.

Other interesting and important results of WorldatWork’s survey about trends in employee recognition include:

  • More than half the participating organizations have Human Resources administer recognition programs.
  • Less than 15 percent of organizations provide any training on employee recognition to managers.
  • Only 11 percent of organizations feature recognition in recruiting to attract candidates.

Opportunities
Trends show increasing awareness of the real value of employee recognition to business outcomes, although most employers still focus on recognizing and rewarding length of service the most. Continued improvements in employee recognition and reward are needed for the most effective impact on motivation and return on investment.

Recognition programs that motivate specific behaviors are the fastest growing, increasing by 16 percent since 2008. The most effective recognition opportunities that any company can take advantage of include implementing a written recognition program strategy, aligning that strategy with organizational strategies and providing training on employee recognition to managers.

Where does your organization fall in these numbers?  Does HR manage your recognition programs? Do you provide recognition training to managers?

Learn more about the relationship between employee recognition, engagement and your business bottom-line in our FREE Guide Below:

gThankYou! Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Employee Engagement: Summertime Best Practices

gThankYou! BBQ Workplace PartyAre you “in tune” with your employees? Summertime provides a wealth of opportunities for employee engagement. July and August tend to be more casual months when barbeque and beaches are in the forefront of everyone’s minds, so why not use that mindset to organize events and company fun to cultivate relationships with your employees?

According to Bob Aronson, CEO and founder of the Aronson Communications Group, “If communications is not your top priority, all of your other priorities are at risk.” Keeping that in mind, spend some time planning summertime events that increase the level of communications between you and your employees. Get-togethers that promote unity and team spirit should be at the top of the list. Here are some examples:

Host a Summertime Vision Group

Your vision for your company should be shared with those who work for you. Andy Parsley of Green Lion, in his publication titled “A Road Map to Employee Engagement” lays it out in three simple steps:

1. Have a vision of where you want to get to.
2. Clearly and persuasively communicate that vision to employees.
3. Be consistent in your behaviors as you strive to achieve that vision.

Summertime Vision Groups are great opportunities to review your company’s vision, discuss your goals and mission statement, and set employee and management expectations. It’s also a good idea to review year-to-date performance and get employee buy-in to proposed changes to increase efficiency and performance.

Promote and Participate in Company Sponsored Fun

Organizing the event is one thing. Participating in it is something else entirely. If you truly want to increase your level of employee engagement, be a part of the event you put together. Grill some burgers at the company barbeque. Be a kid again and play some games with the men and women who work for you. Get in the middle of it all and have everyone take pictures to decorate their cubicles or break room. Your smiling face and a pleasant memory of your fun workplace can go a long way towards helping them through a bad day some time in the future.

Invest in Training or Team Building Exercises

Ken Blanchard, author of “The One Minute Manager” and leadership authority, simplifies the team-building concept with the words, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” The summer months are typically the best time of year to do training and team building, provided it’s not your busy season. Encourage employee engagement by offering choices of exercises or seminars. Allowing workers to participate in the decision-making process gives them a sense of ownership that will increase productivity and employee retention numbers.

Offer Reduced Hours and Flexible Schedules for the Summer

There’s no gift more precious than the gift of time during the summer. Everyone wants to spend more hours with family, go on vacation, or take a long weekend at the beach. Morale is important. Successful companies are those that have happy employees. Marilyn Carlson, former CEO of Carlson Companies, says it best, “On what high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work.” Is that what your company offers?

Learn more about the relationship between employee engagement, recognition and your business bottom-line in our FREE Guide Below:

gThankYou! Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Make Workplace Thank You Notes Work for You

gThankYou! Enclosure Card

Making your employees feel appreciated is more than just employer generosity or good will. It is good business, and it involves more than just employee gifts.

The link between employee recognition, appreciation, engagement, retention, and business success is well documented. Globoforce reports that 55% of respondents to their recent survey said they’d leave their current jobs to work for a company that recognized its employees. A little appreciation goes a long way, as does employee dissatisfaction, which has a definite impact on customer service and productivity. Everyone wants and needs to be appreciated, especially the employees who show up to work every day to contribute to your business and take care of your customers.

The Power of a Sincere “Thank You”
The 2012 SHRM/Globoforce semi-annual survey shows that simply recognizing employees improves employee performance and retention rates. A Forbes research project in 2012 that studied the effects of saying thank you to employees found that employers who regularly thank employees substantially outperform those that don’t.

What kind of recognition creates value and has a measurable impact by lowering voluntary turnover? Well-designed recognition programs that include targeted and personalized recognition and build recognition into the company culture lower voluntary turnover by up to 31 percent!

Delivery Matters – Make It Personal
A sincere, personal thank you, either verbal or written, means as much as or more to your employees than a gift or reward. Saying the words “Thank you” and being specific about why you are thanking the employee show that you care and that you noticed the level of performance that went into whatever it is you are appreciating.  Putting your gratitude in writing shows you took the time to make an employee feel valued, creating a lasting memory of that appreciation.

Fast Company article, “Affordable Ways to Make Your Employees Feel Appreciated – Or Else” describes how Chris Patterson, CEO of Interchanges in Jacksonville, Florida, goes out of his way to make his thank you’s personal and meaningful by investing in getting to know employees. He even sends handwritten notes with gifts to employees’ spouses thanking them for being supportive when employees have to work late or overtime.

Many Ways to Show Appreciation
There are many ways to use workplace thank you notes to recognize a good job, extra effort, and outstanding performance.

  • The most meaningful appreciation recognition is timely, taking place as soon after the activity being recognized takes place. Don’t wait to show an employee that you know how hard they worked on your project or how well they treated your top customer. Write a thank you note as soon as you see exceptional performance or effort and be sure to deliver it personally if you can.
  • Thank you notes and recognition don’t have to come only from the boss or as part of formal recognition programs. Peer-to-peer notes of appreciation mean just as much as when the boss writes them. With the rise of social media, social recognition has a huge impact, and letting co-workers and employees across the organization publicly recognize and reward effort with electronic systems as alternatives to written thank you notes also fuels retention and performance.
  • Story telling is an exciting and engaging way to recognize and thank employees. Extend the life and goodwill of thank you notes by telling the story of how they took care of that big customer, or sold the biggest order in company history, or saved the day by catching an error in a shipment. Use stories of gratitude at employee meetings and annual events like summer picnics or New Year’s parties for a bigger impact on employees than a plaque or gift card.

Not sure how to craft a workplace thank you note? You’ll find good suggestions and references in our post, 10 Tips for Writing Employee Thank You Notes.

So remember the power of a sincere thank you and make it a habit to regularly write personal thank you notes when you really appreciate performance and effort at work. Take a few minutes to make it personal and consider your delivery to make an impact. Your employees will be grateful for the attention and recognition and your workplace will benefit too.

Click Below to Download your FREE Guide to
Employee Gift-Giving Now!

gThankYou! Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Motivating Employees – 3 Top Tips by gThankYou!

gThankYou! - Motivation SignAsk any CEO and they’ll tell you that employee motivation is a key factor when it comes to not just an individual’s performance, but also group productivity. A motivated team helps on many fronts; a more pleasant working office environment, supporting company values and increasing productivity to name just a few.

Justin Schuster, Vice President of enterprise products at MarketTools, Inc. says: “A strong correlation exists between employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, a company’s revenue and profitability.”

So how do you keep your employees motivated? We’ve decided to help inspire you with the top three tips for employee motivation. And here’s a secret; employee recognition doesn’t have to cost you anything!

Tip 1: Involve Them in Your Business

Not Sure How? Here are a few examples:

  • Share Business Goals
    Make your business goals transparent and share these goals openly with your employees; that way they’ll feel like part of the bigger picture, and not just an unimportant cog in the overall works of your business.

In “Wake up and smell the coffee: how Pret A Manger motivates their team members, Richard Harpham, Head of Strategy for Pret A Manger explains:  “Every Tuesday morning sees the Head Office staff coming together for a “Team Brief”, where the Head of a particular department gives an update on their area, highlights the latest company figures, and talks about anything in “The Pret News” – most likely new shops that have opened or success stories from the week.”

This breaks down the information hierarchy common in many companies, as all staff leaves having the same understanding of everything that’s going on.

  • Involve Employees in Solving Business Issues
    Don’t just make them aware of your goals – actively involve them in solving business issues. This will be to your benefit as well as theirs, as they might be able to answer questions that you’ve been unable to solve yourself.
  • Provide Opportunities for Idea Sharing & Teaching
    Giving these responsibilities and open communication allow your employees to feel like they’re participating in improving their work and expanding their career horizons; in turn, they’ll feel better about themselves and be more motivated.
  • Make Routine Work More Interesting
    You many not be able to make everyone’s work more interesting, but you can find ways to make being at work more fun.  Crowd source the team building exercises for the next team meeting or give camera’s to employees and challenge them to take pictures of what’s “right” about work – then make a big collage of them and hang it in a public place. Get employees involved, they will be grateful.

Tip 2:  Celebrate Employees Regularly 

Dr. Bob Nelson, unofficial founder of Employee Appreciation Day, says: “There’s a big difference between getting people to come to work and getting them to do their best work. I believe employees should be appreciated on a daily basis when they perform well, so having this day in their honor is really meant to be a reminder to all managers to value their employees.”

You can do this by recognizing and rewarding good work and achievements when they happen.  Say ‘thank you’ often, and show you appreciate them face-to-face; be friendly and sincere. This will help you to build a culture of respect and employee recognition within your business environment.

At Pret A Manger, Harpham continues, “Head Office staff carry “Wow!” cards, which are handed out to any shop team member that has impressed. The top performing shops (measured against a number of factors, not all financial), are recognized monthly with a team event of their choice, and individuals that offer exceptional service can be picked out by our third-party mystery shoppers. For individuals or teams that have truly out-performed, recognition becomes a more public event, with the incumbents called to the stage at our quarterly off-sites, and congratulated before the whole company.”

And remember, it doesn’t have to take a big effort to say ‘thank you’ – it’s how you say it that counts. Natalie Grace, from Demand Media, says in “How to Celebrate Employees“: “Celebrating your employees can range from a simple thank-you card to an employee anniversary recognition event. Regardless of the extent of the celebration, as long as you deliver it in a thoughtful manner, it will positively affect your employees.”

Tip 3:  Enable Employees to Actively Participate in Recognition and Reward Schemes

gThankYou! Pret A Manger LogoMany companies recognize the power of engaging employees to nominate and reward their peers.  At Pret A Manger, “employees can nominate colleagues for our awards, and the participation is extraordinary” says Harpham.   Why not give new hires gift certificates or cash to gift back to those who helped them most to learn the ropes?

A good place to start is to provide managers with a “tool kit” of recognition items to use in the moment when the need to recognize great work arises.  It could be as simple as your own company version of “Wow” Cards and the ability to share nominal gifts for occasions of special effort.

If your team has certain goals, why not make a chart to help track these as they are gradually achieved? Have employees work out the “how” and “when” milestones and build in the recognition rewards they want along the way.

Jim Autry, author of Love and Profit reminds us, “finally, the greatest job enrichment of all is your attitude. If you pay attention, listen, be accessible, open-up, and provide your people with as many special treatments and celebrations and learning experiences as you can, you’ll be overwhelmed by the abundance of thinking all around you.”

With that in mind, why not get started motivating your employees today?

Download Your FREE Employee Gift Guide Now!

gThankYou! Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Employee Appreciation Best Practices: Datotel Delivers Thanks In Person

Datotel revamps its workplace gifting program to make it more meaningful. Learn how you can too!  

gThankYou! Employee Appreciation in Action

In “Building a Culture of Appreciation”, Nadine Heintz, a New York University faculty member and senior editor at Inc. Magazine, details how IT firm Datotel overhauled its employee appreciation, recognition and incentive programs:

 David Brown thinks it’s important to make his employees feel valued. So Brown, founder and president of Datotel, an IT services and data storage business in St. Louis with 38 employees, was dismayed when he realized his employee-of-the-month program wasn’t helping morale.

It seems like a simple concept: Make employees feel appreciated, and they will work harder and be more loyal. But there’s often a disconnect between the type of appreciation employees want and what their managers think they want.”

Create a Culture of Thank You

Heintz notes: Though a decent bonus will always be a highly coveted form of recognition, employers often underestimate the degree to which workers value kind words delivered face to face.

That may sound like good news for companies looking for inexpensive ways to show appreciation to employees. In many ways, though, it’s easier to hand out a bonus than to create a culture in which saying thank you is a regular occurrence, she opines.

Though Brown started the employee-of-the-month program as an easy way to ensure staff felt appreciated, he learned from employees during informal conversations that a less formal, more personal approach would be more effective.

Regularly Recognize Employees’ Accomplishments

To encourage his management team to regularly report employees’ accomplishments, Brown:

  • Made time during his daily morning executives’ phone call to discuss exemplary work
  • Designated 15 minutes of each weekly management meeting to do the same.
  • Encouraged managers to thank employees from other departments — in person — for extra efforts.
  • Set an example by thanking employees several times a week, often through handwritten, mailed notes.

“At a tech company, it’s all too easy to just write emails,” he tells Heintz. “It takes time to sit down and write out a note, but it goes a long way.”

A Handwritten Note Resonates

Last June, Brown mailed a handwritten note on Datotel stationery to engineer Stephanie Lewis’s home.  He thanked her for her hard work and mentioned that managers had praised her customer service efforts.

The personal, unique note from her CEO made her feel important and valued, Lewis reveals. All from a simple thank you.

How do you ensure your employees feel valued? How do you make your workplace gifting personal?

Download Your gThankYou!
Employee Gift-Giving Guide Now

gThankYou! Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

4th of July Recipe Favorites for Your American Celebration

The fourth of July is the best kind of American holiday — celebrated at the height of summer, with grills going and fireworks sparkling and ice-cold lemonade (or beer) in hand.

When family is around and backyard games are in progress, it’s more fun to be outside than slaving away in the kitchen. These tried and true summer dishes are not only easy, they can also be prepared either ahead of time or on a Weber kettle.

Watermelon Feta Salad with Kalamata Olives

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Fair warning: this salad, by British cookbook author Nigella Lawson, is addictive, and not only during the summer when watermelon is abundant. Sweet with melon, salty with kalamata olives and feta cheese and fresh with chopped mint and parsley leaves, this is a crowd-pleasing summer salad that goes with everything. Steeping raw red onions in fresh lime juice removes their rasp, so start those first.

There are dozens of variations on the watermelon salad — try Whole Foods’ version with goat cheese and basil, or Ina Garten’s take with baby arugula and parmesan.

Deviled eggs with smoked salmon

Deviled eggs for Lila

With a bit of spiced mustard and creamy mayonnaise, deviled eggs are a classic party dish. This Forkful of News recipe, topped with smoked salmon and sliced chives, has a secret tang from pickled onions (you can use dill pickles, too).

To make them even more elegant for a dinner party, add fish eggs (like flying fish roe, or tobiko) for a tiny bit of salty snap.

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

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Flank steak can be incredibly tender and flavorful if you give it a night in marinade. After trying Mediterranean and Southwestern combinations, the best is an Asian-style combination of soy sauce, garlic, ginger and brown sugar. Start with a marinade like Alton Brown’s or this version from AllRecipes. Then add/subtract ingredients to your taste.

Because flank is a tough cut, the key is to let the steak sit in marinade overnight. Grill for about 15 minutes total and then LET IT REST for 10 minutes, at least. While the steak rests, you can throw on kebabs.

Vegetable/Chicken Kebabs

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The only thing slightly fussy about these skewers is the assembly. Cut up whatever vegetables you have around (peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, squash, mushrooms), brush with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with some interesting spices (cumin, paprika, aleppo pepper) and grill on medium, 6-10 minutes.

The skewers above have small pieces of chicken on them, but shrimp or precooked slices of chicken sausage work, too. Vegetarians at your celebration might appreciate veg-only kebabs, like these from Epicurious.

Martha Stewart recommends threading each vegetable or meat separately, to have better control over the cooking time. That’s certainly an option, but if you’re staying away from super-high heat anyway, the lazy man’s everything-on-one method has worked fine for us.

Patriotic Bundt Cake

June Cook-off Lindsay and Nicole 006

Holidays are no time for restraint. Go big with a lovely pound cake, like the sour-cream based Man Catcher from Melissa Gray’s “All Cakes Considered” (try it with fresh blueberries in the batter) or Ina Garten’s lemon pound cake, cooked into a bundt pan as the Smitten Kitchen suggests.

Shown above is my friend’s deliberately patriotic bundt cake, which she topped with fresh white whipped cream and stewed fresh berries (bright red strawberries and blueberries, of course). A scoop of ice cream would be delicious, too!

However you celebrate, we wish you a very happy 4th of July and share our gratitude that we are a country that believes in freedom  and Democracy.

gThankYou! Free 2-Page Guide

Click to Download Your Free Guide to gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Employee Gifts for New Hires: A Good Investment

gThankYou! Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving

Click to Download Our Employee Gift Guide Now!

“An employee’s introduction to the company is equally important to the later success of both the individual and the company,” says an Inc. Magazine article, “Onboarding Done Better.”

“Welcoming employees with an assortment of gifts and activities help new hires get involved right out of the gate.”

The article quotes George Bradt, managing director at PrimeGenesis, an onboarding and leadership consulting company based in Stamford, Conn. He also blogs for Forbes.

“The way you manage the transition of somebody into your culture speaks volumes about the culture to the person coming in, because you’re making those first early impressions and they know what’s expected of them.”

Companies are realizing this philosophy is necessary, the article notes. It’s not just about the bottom line; the key is to make employees enthusiastic right from day one.

As Victoria Weinblatt of Demand Media writes at the Houston Chronicle’s Chron.com, in “Gifts for a New Employee,”

Entering the realm of the working world is a life-changing event.”

Make it easier with personal attention and a small gift. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but a thoughtful “welcome to the team” gift might be just the thing to build your company’s reputation as a great place to work. Your next search for the best talent will likely be that much easier.

Vera Leigh, eHow contributor, adds: “New employee gifts make people feel welcome and appreciated on their first day of work. They also set the tone for the work environment and let people know that you are glad they have joined your staff,” in her article, “New Employee Gift Ideas.”

Here are some popular gift suggestions:

  • Gift certificates or gift cards—preferably ones that enable employees to select their own items, shop at their store of choice and even share with their family.
  • Desk goodie basket—healthy snacks as well as treats.
  • Greeting card—a personal message from management and staff.
  • Lunch—catered in a conference room, in the company cafeteria, or a local restaurant.

HR software company TribeHR, contributes a few more ideas in “Make an Amazing Employee Welcome Package.”

  • Put a small gift on new employees’ desks each day during their first week. Try a gift certificate or card on Monday, chocolates on Tuesday, fresh flowers on Wednesday, a cupcake from a local bakery on Thursday, and Friday, a coffee mug with your company’s name on it.
  • If they’re new to the area, give them a stack of menus to popular local restaurants and coffee shops, and a bunch of brochures for local museums, theaters and other attractions.

You just spent $40 and did something your employees will always remember.

“Businesses spend tens of thousands of dollars a year or more on new hires, with the hope that they will become valued employees who add to the company’s success. It pays to do a few little, inexpensive things to welcome them aboard.”

How do you make new employees feel welcome?  Learn more about how employee appreciation helps your employees feel valued, keeps the workplace motivated and improves your bottom-line!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Father’s Day Dinner – 5 Grill Favorites

Father’s Day, falling as it does on a temperate mid-June Sunday, is the perfect time to get out the grill. No matter who is handling the chimney starter, these five recipes for a grill-centric meal will make for a delicious and special Father’s Day celebration.

Five Grill Favorites for Father’s Day

Dad will absolutely love these delicious yet healthy Grilled Turkey Burgers from Bon Appetit. Made with cheddar and smoky aioli (a kind of homemade garlicky mayonnaise), these burgers don’t skimp on flavor, seasoned with cumin, coriander and smoked paprika (I recommend the incredibly flavorful Spanish paprika from Penzeys).

Photo by Nigel Cox for Bon Appetit

Photo by Nigel Cox for Bon Appetit

Is your dad more of a rib guy?  Father’s Day is a special occasion, after all. Recently I picked up some country-style ribs to try as an alternative to our bone-in barbecue favorites slathered with sauce.

In its recipe for Barbecued Country-Style Ribs, Cook’s Country has some excellent tips on how to keep the cooking even between the white and dark meat.

From Cook's Country

From Cook’s Country

“We brined the ribs so that the white meat would stay juicy and pounded the ribs to an even ¾-inch thickness to “break down” the fattier dark meat,” writes the Cook’s Country test kitchen. “As for flavor, a double layer of barbecue spice and sauce and a quick smoke on the grill turned these ribs into something to sing about.”

Whatever meat you put over the coals, combine it with Charros, or smoky Tex-Mex beans. Steve Raichlen has a recipe for these “soulful, spicy pinto beans” seasoned with onion, bay and cloves, finished with bacon, jalapenos and fresh cilantro.

Charros from Primal Grill

“Don’t be surprised by the soupy consistency of the beans,” Raichlen writes. “Charros are always served with lots of flavorful broth.”

Spring has been slow to come to our part of the country, so we’re still in asparagus mode. Luckily, it’s a one of my favorite things to grill and an early summer favorite.

For Father’s Day I might dress them up with this Gourmet recipe for Grilled Pancetta-Wrapped Asparagus by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez.

photo by Ditte Isager

Photo by Ditte Isager

For a decadent and special finish to your Father’s Day celebration, try grilling peaches.

The first time I ever attempted the recipe below to make caramel, I meant to drizzle it over ripe, juicy grilled peaches, a finishing touch to a dinner party with friends.

I followed the New York Times recipe for Grilled-Peach Sundaes With Salted Bourbon-Caramel Sauce almost to the letter, though in my nervousness about the temperature, I pulled the caramel before it got really brown.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

I didn’t make that mistake the second time. When it got really, well, caramelized, this syrup was easily the best “candy topping” I’ve ever made. Heck, for a simpler dessert, ditch the grilled peaches and just make this caramel. Spoon it on store bought ice cream and it’ll be the best dessert dad’s had all year.

One final note: If dad loves to grill, one of my favorite cookbooks for cooking on the fire is Weber’s excellent “Way to Grill” (Sunset Books, 2009). It’s full of big color photographs, step-by-step illustrated demonstrations and practical advice. At about $17 on Amazon, it’s a Father’s Day gift that begs to be paired with some grilling tools and/or a homemade meal from you.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads and Dad stand-ins who make all the difference in our lives!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Five Great Mexican-Inspired Dishes for a Summer Party

As the days get longer and the sunset stretches on well past dinner time, all things Mexican-inspired start to sound irresistible. Guacamole with fresh tomatillos, agua fresca, mushroom chile tacos topped with pickled onions and jalapeños — and who can turn down a fresh margarita or a crispy, indulgent tostada?

These five recipes can serve as the cornerstone of a late afternoon Sunday supper, or make them all and invite some friends to sit around a backyard fire. Salud!

Turkey Tostadas

9-Black-Bean-Tostada

From Coupon Clipping Cook

If by chance you have a gift certificate for turkey or ham still lingering in your wallet, you’re in luck this summer — according to About.com’s Chelsie Kenyon, “turkey is actually indigenous to Mexico and was a part of the Aztec diet along with tomatoes, squash and sometimes iguana.”

Tostadas are among the most forgiving of Mexican dishes, stacked like nachos on a crispy tortilla with everything from refried beans to fresh cilantro. Try Rachael Ray’s recipe for tostadas topped with black beans, corn and shredded turkey, with cheese (cotija is excellent), sour cream, lime and chipotle sauce for extra kick. A little avocado wouldn’t go amiss here either.

Queso Fundido with Chorizo

Some recipes don’t need any translating. That’s the case with this rich, gooey cheese dip, spiked with serrano chile and studded with fresh Mexican chorizo sausage.

queso-fundido-646

Photo by Romulo Yanes for Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit’s recipe combines Monterey Jack and cheddar with beer (they say a lager, like Corona), minced onion, tomato and fresh oregano.

Served hot out of the oven or in a fondue pot with some good tortilla chips, it’s a can’t-miss party appetizer.

Ham and Cheese Torta

A torta is basically a Mexican sandwich, a crusty white roll piled high with meat (steak, chicken, pork, chorizo) and the classic trimmings you’d find on a taco or tostada, like queso fresco (a mild white cheese) and pickled onions.

It’s also a great vehicle for ham, as made clear in this simple recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table. Made with refried beans, avocado, queso fresco, fresh tomato and fresh onion as well, these ham tortas would make an excellent weekend lunch.

For more inspiration, see a slide show of 10 fantastic tortas on Huffington Post Taste. Fried egg, spinach, pork belly and roasted jalapeño? Si, ¡dámelo!

Pozole

20090610182812Pozole (or posole) is a Mexican stew made with tender, slow-cooked pork, hominy (corn without the hull, soaked in lye), fresh chiles and lots of toppings. You can slurp it with a spoon or pull out the meat and toppings and wrap them in fresh tortillas.

A classic version is Rick Bayless’ white pozole with all the trimmings, which calls for three kinds of pork (shank, trotters and bone-in shoulder) and is best made on  a weekend, when there’s plenty of time for a slow simmer.

Or try Marcela Valladolid’s recipe from “Mexican Made Easy” on the Food Network, a beef shank version that’s faster and simpler.

One Great Margarita

Margarita on the rocksThe perfect margarita doesn’t come from a mix, use bottled lime juice or require freezing and blending. No, the perfect margarita, as printed in Imbibe Magazine, is simple and fresh, the ideal thing to celebrate the coming of summer.

Make this correctly, and everything else on the table will taste even better. The salt on the rim is optional.

Makes 1.

  • 2 oz. silver tequila (or reposado if you like)
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
  • Ice cubes
  • Tools: shaker, strainer
  • Glass: double rocks
  • Garnish: lime wheel and salt (optional)

Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish.