Have you ever had an HR question that you researched and researched using various forms of media with no success finding a straightforward answer that addressed your exact question? You finally find something about the topic and all you get are generic responses followed by the standard tag line that “you shouldn’t take the information as legal advice blah blah blah”.
As a fairly new human resources professional and an HR department of one, I find myself searching for candid advice and creative ideas on a regular basis with little to no luck until recently when I took to LinkedIn.com and decided to ask for help from the largest professional HR group (SHRM). To my surprise, the quantity and quality of the responses were exactly what I needed to answer my question.
Working for a smaller medical practice, I have found that I have a lot of opportunity to create and develop new policies and practices. Currently we do not have a formal recognition program for staff birthdays – it’s something that people can celebrate on their own, but don’t receive anything from management. My previous employers were a very small company and a much larger company, both of which had their own birthday celebrations appropriate for the company size. So I wasn’t sure how I could implement something that wouldn’t be too expensive for a medium-sized business, but still have the impact that would show staff that we truly appreciate them.
Over 75 people responded to my question, providing advice and ideas that they had all experienced or implemented themselves. The most common responses included:
- Sending personalized birthday cards signed by management.
- Providing a small gift card ($5-10) with the birthday card for staff to enjoy lunch on their birthday.
- Offering a floating holiday or an extra PTO day on the staff member’s birthday.
- Organizing a monthly celebration with a baked treat for all staff who have a birthday in that month.
- Public recognition of any kind: inclusion in the company newsletter, an email, a Facebook post, a bulletin board flyer, etc.
The most unique or creative responses included:
- Partnering with a local restaurant to provide staff with a discount for dinner on their birthday (Susan Sanders, ACCENT Marketing).
- Sending birthday cards via U.S. mail to each member of the employee’s family on their birthday (Megan Soltura, Gibson Applied Technology & Engineering).
- Treating the employee and a co-worker of their choice to lunch paid by the company (Nancy Blaha, The Kleingers Group).
- A personalized candy bar and birthday balloon handed out on their birthday (Renee Granzow, RateWatch)
- Asking teammates for aspects that they appreciate about the co-worker and providing a list of the responses to the staff member while keeping the responders anonymous (Pamela Mack, Occuscreen).
With such a large response I have plenty of ideas to consider and decide what I think will work best for our organization.
I love my local SHRM group because I can bounce ideas off of them when I need guidance, and networks like the one on LinkedIn expand that group to thousands of people who are as committed to excellence in their profession as I am.