In a recent Gratitude in the Workplace Webinar, I learnt from Dr Ryan Fehr's research that the top barriers at work are:
1) employees feels isolated;
2) employees are disengaged, and;
3) management lacks care for their employees
All of these impact on happiness and well being of individuals at work, especially when we spend the majority of our waking lives in this environment. It is also known that gratitude shown to one another could lead to organisational bonding and resilience, as trust is developed amongst staff/employees. The proposal here is to implement a reward system via the HR platform, which is linked in to the annual leave system (many companies may already have a software or platform that allows one to book annual leave, and many system host an online community function where colleagues can leave messages for one another. This can be extended to 'giving thanks': as tokens/badges/thank you points to any colleagues listed in the system.
This way, each individual has their own 'thank you points' built up through the thanks given by colleagues. Once the 'thank you points' build up to more than six, for instance, the additional points will only be visible to the individual in question and/or HR manager, thus there is someone (HR manager) who is tracking the points accumulated by an individual in any given time. Hence, no one will feel they are competing with one another. However, they can continue to give thank you points and give thanks on the online community message board, for instance. At any point, the individual could convert these 'thank you points' into actual gifts/prizes: it could be as simple as a free cup of coffee on the company, gift cards or anything as determined by the HR policy.
Concurrently, on the online community side, colleagues will also have a 'skills swap' board whereby one person could post the skill they wish to gain and anyone from the company could offer to fulfil that request. For instance, someone may wish to have 121 tutorial on excel that is relevant to his/her work and would benefit from someone who is from the same company to provide that bespoke training - it could be an hour of someone's time in exchange for another skills, such as putting together a power point. It could also be extended to skillset beyond the immediate work requirements, as long as HR/Senior Management can accept this. For instance, some one may wish to exchange his/her excel skill for French tuition. This satisfies our wish to help others, allow others to help us and also build skills! (what the expert would say as the key ingredients to foster gratitude culture at work.)
Once a month, HR manager or a systems lead, could print off the gratitude expressed on the online community board and have them displayed in the work breakout areas or meeting rooms. The idea is through reading about one another giving thanks will provide a positive sentiment to show how colleagues genuinely give thanks to one another. This further reinforces the notion of giving thanks and extend it from the online realm into the social realm.
There should also be 'bonus' points given to new starters/interns/apprentices, so that they can quickly feel they are integrated into their new environment. They should also be targeted by senior management team to have some 121 time to find out what is the new person's work interest and personal interest too for that matter.
In my current workplace, we have a HR platform already and it could be easily adapted to provide the rewards function and tracking of points. Overtime, the HR manager may agree with the individual's line manager that their reward points can be added to the annual appraisal as an additional element of consideration but no one will be penalised if they do not receive enough points (and in any case the public profile of these points is limited up to a level, and the rest will only be visible to the individual and HR manager, as aforementioned)