USA Today‘s Entrepreneurial Tightrope column tackled the issue of gratitude after a boss named C.J., probably tearing up while typing his/her tale of woe, complained that his/her ungrateful employees weren’t thankful enough for all the wonderful things that he/she did for them.
“These perks cost money. Is it asking too much to expect them to show me that they appreciate my efforts?” C.J. asks.
First, hush with your whining C.J.
Second, Gladys Edmunds, the Entrepreneurial Tightrope columnist, hits it right on the head in her response.
“I’m not sure how you want them to display their appreciation. But, it’s a new day and you need to find out if your employees consider your gifts something to be grateful for,” Edmunds responds.
Many employers and managers, coming from a good place and genuinely trying to reward employees for a job well done, try to organize dinners, boat rides, parties, or other events to show their appreciation and then make it mandatory for employees to show up.
Cake in the conference room is great. The occasional happy hour get-together is cool. And nice dinners and cocktail parties around the holidays are expected and acceptable. But people have lives. They spend lots of hours daily away from their families and friends and want to get back to them once their time at work is over. Count in all the overtime that staffers put in to make sure projects are done on time and without error, and you have people who spend upwards of 50 or 60 hours at work every week (plus commute time). To them, spending another couple of hours at a work function isn’t “a perk.”
Edmunds includes a few examples, one in which a father was missing his daughter’s seventh birthday party to attend a company dinner that the boss said was a treat. Everyone felt they had to be there. That’s actually the opposite of a perk.
“…[Y]our employees might have a better appreciation for the kind of compensation that benefits their lifestyles,” Edmunds says, suggesting that those in charge simply ask what people would like. When all else fails, people love cash.