Employee Appreciation GONE WRONG?
So, I’ve never had a so-called “real” job. Meaning I’ve never worked for a big corporation, or even a small business. I’ve always been self-employed, even in high school when I worked as a magician in a couple of restaurants doing strolling magic. In summer during college a friend and I had our own window washing business, where we went around knocking on people’s doors dressed in ties and button-down shirts and offered to clean people’s windows. Not to toot my own horn, but we were pretty successful. And now, of course, I’m a funny, motivational speaker, working for myself helping companies invest in the people side of their businesses.
So it’s been fun for me in a weird way to hear all about my children’s jobs at various places over the years. Mostly they’ve worked at restaurants, Starbucks, or the library, but now that two of them are out of college, they’re starting to move into jobs that are more grown-up, if that makes sense. A while back I wrote about Employee Appreciation Day at my oldest daughter’s law firm where she worked as a paralegal. Today I’m going to write about my son’s experience working at a large Colorado ski resort (which shall remain nameless) and their Employee Appreciation Week. A whole week—I know!
My son teaches ski lessons to kids at this Colorado ski resort and he’s really good at it. He’s great with kids and he’s a great skier, so a winning combination, right? The resort is lucky to have him. But you’d never know that from they way they treat the teachers at the ski school. Basically they threw them all out there and said here’s your class of 10 three to five year olds who’ve never skied before—have a great time. So some Employee Appreciation is sorely needed.
You’d think that a weeklong Employee Appreciation effort would be really cool. And in some ways it was—at least the Colorado resort remembered to appreciate their employees in the first place, I guess. But just as in my daughter’s experience with her firm’s Employee Appreciation Day, the resort kind of missed the mark.
Oh, they offered the standard kind of things I would imagine lots of companies offer to their employees during this kind of week: some free candy, popcorn and granola bars (yes!); free coffee or hot chocolate (woo hoo!), discounted restaurant food (but no alcohol discounts—rats); discounted ski rentals or purchases; discounts on logo wear; even a discount on a Yeti mug! Woo hoo! And my personal favorite: FREE Avalanche Awareness Training! On Zoom! Woo hoo! (Too much with the woo hoos?) (BTW, they are required to have Avalanche Awareness training if they are on the mountain teaching lessons or patrolling.) Kind of a lame effort, IMO. Not bad, but really insufficient. Free popcorn these days just doesn’t cut it with employees who are working long hours with little kids for only about $15 an hour, with very little support from the supervisors. According to my son, Ben, all the employees were like, “whatever.”
Ben felt kind of insulted actually. Here he’s been busting his butt all winter and trying to do the best job he can, and they’re offering him a free granola bar? Put one over-worked, under-paid ski instructor through one week of mediocre “Employee Appreciation,” and you end up with a really disengaged employee who can’t wait until the season is over. Ben has zero loyalty to the company at this point. Unfortunately for the customer (and for the resort), his disengagement translates to indifference on the slope, even though he is trying to provide the best service possible. If he’s disengaged, surely most of the other employees are too, despite the wonderful offerings of Employee Appreciation Week. (Avalanche Awareness training anyone?)
So what’s a company to do? Well, of course, the answer isn’t super simple, yet at the same time is pretty straight-forward. Make your employees feel like you care. And not with an EA week, although it can’t hurt. You have to appreciate your employees right out of the gate. Listen to their concerns from day one. Talk to them about what is good and bad about the job and try to make changes or find answers to the bad stuff. From the get-go, Ben couldn’t get his supervisors to talk to him about his concerns, or listen to his successes and challenges on the slopes. Make your employees feel like you care.
I can’t say that enough. As an expert in employee engagement and social and emotional support in the workplace, I see this over and over again. Managers and supervisors think a day or a week of free granola bars or a Hallmark card thanking them for their service is enough to balance out months of indifference at best, or poor treatment at worst. Talk to your people. Listen to them. Be available to them. Answer their concerns. Help them with their challenges. Celebrate their successes. Make them feel like you care. Those things are free; even cheaper than the granola bar.
I get it. This is a massive company managing hundreds (thousands?) of employees and trying to satisfy thousands of customers in Colorado for a ski vacation each season. Often the feeling is that they don’t have time to personally invest in each employee. But again, as an expert in social and emotional support and how that translates to employee retention, satisfied customers, lower complaints and a higher bottom line, the effort doesn’t have to be huge. It just has to be authentic and consistent. From day one.
Of course, if this Colorado resort was really on the ball and serious about employee engagement, they would hire me — a speaker based in Colorado — to motivate their employees, teach them about social and emotional support, give them techniques to make their people feel appreciated and valued members of a team. While making them laugh and smile as they’re learning.
If you’re interested in how emotional and social support can build up your employees and improve your company’s bottom line, call me, Brad Montgomery, and get started in creating a positive job experience for your employees which will result in happier customers and a happier you. I’m a funny motivational speaker with hundreds (maybe thousands) of happy clients. Become one of them.
Funny keynote speaker Brad Montgomery is an award winning, Hall of Fame speaker. He got his start as a magician & comedian, but now serves convention and meeting audiences in many fields including health care, real estate / REALTORS, sales people, educators and teachers, and 100s of others.
Brad presents his funny keynotes both live and in person, and virtually over Zoom and a few dozen other platforms.
Give us a call, and we’ll talk about how to customize a program just for you and your audience.