It was difficult to get out of bed this morning, but I knew people were counting on me. I had an extremely important task that could quite possibly increase the happiness at work today. My day-changing mission was to hold the door open for staff, greet them and serve them coffee. The Kalamazoo Public Library hosts a “Welcome to Work Wednesday” event every few months to help prepare staff for the work day with a smile and some warm java. The hope was that by recognizing staff as they enter work to prepare the library for the public, they would engage enthusiastically in activities that promote stellar internal and external customer service.
In their best-selling book, The Carrot Principle, authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton have proven that recognition drives engagement. They surveyed over 200,000 over ten years and discovered that when managers offered meaningful praise and rewards, employees achieved results that exceeded expectations. Great leaders use simple rewards like hand-written notes, specific praise, or a cup of coffee on a chilly Michigan morning to increase productivity and engagement. Gostick and Elton’s study also discovered that feeling good about going to work is valued by employees more than any monetary bonus. Since many libraries have been experiencing decreasing revenues, it is imperative that we use recognition to retain the talent that will allow us to continue to grow.
So as I greeted staff to work this morning, I also thanked them specifically for their contribution to making KPL a great place. This authentic praise definitely brought a smile or two to the faces of people still trying to cope with the early morning. Hopefully “Welcome to Work Wednesday” will help library staff feel recognized and appreciated. And I hope that the extra strong coffee will wake everyone up to the possibility of making it a fabulous day.
Every year the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Team Appreciation Committee hosts a Staff Breakfast to celebrate our awesomeness. The format of the breakfast for the last three years is that of a late night talk show called Before We Open. I play the fun-loving host and our “show” features guests, a live band, funny bits and the obligatory Top Ten List. Our Library Director speaks about the past year’s accomplishments and the President of the Library Board thanks the staff. Our Friends of the Library sponsor the event and many of their members join the “live studio audience.”
The show celebrates retirees, highlights years of service, congratulates graduates, and recognizes the great work of staff. Staff love this party! It is rare to not see a smile on someone’s face at the end of the event. The audience laughs at the zingers aimed at administrators, cheers on the talents of the staff led band, tears up over stories told by retirees, and roots for another great year. After everyone has a second helping of breakfast, we open the doors for business. Full bellies, warm hearts, and inspired minds.
Previous Staff Celebrations were usually held at night and resembled awards banquets. It was rare to see all the staff in the room and the atmosphere seemed to prevent anyone from having fun. The format needed to change because how would anyone feel appreciated if no one was around to hear the accolades? The Team Appreciation Committee realized that if we wanted to truly celebrate our accomplishments, the staff needed to have some fun. The late night show format allows us to not only crack a few jokes, but also publicly hold up our peers in a super casual setting. We also discovered that by hosting the show in the morning, more staff participated. Finally, the good vibe that emanates afterwards can be felt for days.
So if your staff event is in need of some excitement, consider changing it up to a format in which you show off your appreciation with bacon and stupid human tricks.