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Paper Turkeys and the Emotional Bank Account

HR as the strategic partner……I think as I print out the last batch of funny turkey cards for the company’s gift to employees for this Thanksgiving Holiday.  As we begin our HR careers, this is often the staple of what we do.  The “soft” side of HR, also known as the fluffy or non-value-added activities wind up on most of HR’s plates.  It’s always been difficult to articulate these morale-building activities as part of the overall Human Capital Strategy but I think that most do agree on several things:

  • It does increase morale
  • It does enhance the spirit of the organization
  • It does help solidify and help define the culture of the organization

Many tell me that it’s a short-sell.  That these events, tokens, or gestures are fleeting and employees will soon forget. Instead, I like to think of it as an “Emotional Bank Account”.  Every such item is a deposit in the relationship that we have with others.  We give sometimes little, sometimes a lot, but we give.  If we have the right people working at our organizations, they remember.  They tuck away that gift and remember it.  Hopefully, when we need them to do the right thing they will make the choice in favor of the organization or perform during “crunch time”.

I learned this especially over the past couple of years as the economy tanked.  Organizations I knew who made those investments of heart-felt gestures were reaping the benefits when they approached employees related to pay reductions and benefits.  I witnessed these employees reflecting back on all that they were given and they gladly sacrificed.  But where we for is that like all accounts, it must be replenished and the balance checked regularly.  If not, like many organizations, you go into a negative balance which results in poor morale or worse.

So as I cut out my last paper turkey I continue to reflect on the hope that by me doing this, our employees will be a little nicer to clients, to each other, or keep the organization a little bit more in mind.  After all, bringing out the best in people is my job, even through construction paper.  -Rick

Rick is a Florida-based Human Resources and Career Strategist.  You can find more advice and insights at http://www.rmbaron.com or contact him at rick@rmbaron.net).