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Turning Paychecks into Thank You Cards

Human Resource Payroll Systems can be more personal and endearing with some community effort.

Photo of Ryan Kelly
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One of the biggest excuses people give for not showing gratitude in the workplace is: "That's what he/she gets paid for." What if we could flip this payment excuse on its head, and turn paychecks into vessels for authentic workplace gratitude?

I propose implementing a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) that is designed for the purpose of fostering gratitude towards employees. In addition to standard HRIS functions, it will incorporate the following features:

1. Thank You eCards

Over every pay period, employees will be able to create and send thank you notes to employees across all departments. These eCards will be customizable with a card designer module that allows for unique thank you notes to be made for different people or occasions. Employees will have the option to send the card immediately, or wait and send the Card with the employee's paycheck. In either case, all cards created for an employee in a given pay period will be attached to that employees paycheck, making that paycheck more endearing and personal.

2. Care Packages

Instead of a thank you card, employees will also have the option to contribute towards a personalized care package of snacks and goodies. When creating their profile, each employee will fill out a list of favorite snacks along with other information that employees can refer to for gift ideas. This feature can utilize an online delivery service such as Favor or Amazon Prime Now for quick delivery in fast paced work environments.

3. Gratitude Analytics

Managers and the HR employees will be able to see data about their workplace dynamics, such as: which employees are under recognized, which employees show the most gratitude etc. This addresses one major problem with gratitude in the workplace: thanking the people who never get thanked. These analytics will allow managers to clearly identify who they should prioritize with face time and words of encouragement outside of the software. 

The software should be developed with a companion mobile app, so that people can show gratitude anywhere they go, even when they are not at work. 

It is worth noting that this software is not a full solution for showing gratitude in the workplace. It works best in workplaces with an HR department. It is not meant to replace other creative forms of appreciation, but rather to foster a community of gratitude to begin with.

Overall, these features allow for personal and efficient ways of showing thankfulness in the workplace. Since none of the features are required to be fulfilled, employees will not be upset by forced gratitude. 

Employee recognition is one of the key practices for increasing intrinsic motivation amongst employees, and employees with higher intrinsic motivation are more valuable than those without (see see here). Thus, these practices of recognition add value to any company that utilizes them.

Idea Title

Thank Accounts

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

This HR system will be designed with employee appreciation at its center

Who are you innovating for?

Employees who are not given a clear and easy path for showing appreciation in the workplace. Managers who are not given clear information about which of their employees is under-appreciated.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

Most if not all organizational sizes and types, including fast paced high stress work environments. Preferably workplaces that have an HR department.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

The software will be taught to managers and employees through modules, with support of the HR department. Managers will be responsible for encouraging employees to use the software, and should lead by example.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

It could be costly to switch from one HRIS to another, but these costs get outweighed by an increase in employee productivity. Some employees may not like the software, but since it is not required, they can show gratitude in other ways. The software will be designed to be as customizable as possible to fit the needs of everyone.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

The first step would be to design a minimum viable product, and test it out with small HR departments. Observe and interview the HR employees about problems and ideas, and make adjustments as needed.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

Hire a team of developers to create the minimum viable product. Perhaps make parts of the platform open source to save development costs.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

During an open innovation class at UT Austin, a group of students including myself made an empathy map for the people who do not show gratitude in this challenge. One of the take aways from this was the excuse that people give for not showing gratitude: "that's what he/she gets paid for". From this I flipped the excuse on its head, making how you get paid the vessel for gratitude.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Ryan Kelly, and I am a student at UT Austin. I am studying Management Information Systems, specifically taking an open innovation class that has chosen to contribute to this challenge.

Where are you / your team located?

Austin, Texas

Tell us about your experience

I have not worked in design or HR, but as a student I am interested in these fields.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Priyanka Singh

Hey Ryan
This is a really interesting idea, it brings about a more human element to paychecks, which i loved. Especially as everything becomes more materialistic in today's society, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how overtime this idea could be implemented. And how these packages and personalised cards can avoid the issue of sounding too generic.

Photo of Ryan Kelly

The key to successfully implement this software is, above all, not forcing anyone to send a thank you or a gift if they do not want to, or if they do not feel it is genuine. An employee could use this software and never send or receive a thank you card. I do think that that particular possibility would become very unlikely, because the software makes it easy to show gratitude.

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