Why Peer to Peer Recognition is Just as Important as Top Down

certificateCompanies that have a recognition program in place are doing something right. These programs increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover rate substantially.

However, a study conducted by Bersin by Deloitte found that 87 percent of recognition programs focus on tenure rather than performance.

This type of recognition is a holdover from the days when people stayed with a company for 20 or 30 years. These days, though, most employees stay with an employer for an average of 4.4 years. And that is expected to decrease as more and more millennials enter the workforce.

If companies want to retain good employees, their recognition programs need to change with the times.

rewardWhen revising tired old recognition programs, implementing peer-to-peer recognition is a smart place to start.

Why? Because the same study mentioned above also found that employees feel “much better when recognized by their peers.”

Top-down recognition programs can come across as political. The employees who are in the trenches may feel that they will never catch the attention of top management. So for them, there is no real incentive to work harder if they don’t think they have a chance be recognized.

However, peer-to-peer recognition programs open up the field for anyone to nominate and recognize anyone else within the company. And when someone receives such an award from one’s peers, it also holds more meaning and carries more weight.

work celebration Ready to implement a peer-to-peer recognition program? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Get input from employees

This is an essential first step. Ask employees what they’d like to see in a recognition program. What kinds of achievements would they like to recognize? What type of awards would they like to receive themselves? You may not be able to do everything they suggest, but it will give you a good idea of what they find motivating and valuable.

Put together a diverse committee

Make sure all levels in your company are represented on the selection committee. It defeats the purpose if employees nominate but the final selection is made by management.

Get creative with awards

awardFirst, always make sure that the employee receives a certificate and other award that they can display in their work spaces. These can then be supplemented with other creative, out-of-the-box incentives. For example, maybe the employee gets a special parking place or a month’s worth of java at the local coffee shop or a gift certificate for a well-deserved massage.

As always, the more thought your company puts into recognition, the more appreciated and powerful it will be. And the more happy and productive your employees will become.

Contempo Modern Certificates by PaperDirect

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8 Senior Year Recognition Ideas

Graduation Certificate Bundles by PaperDirectOne of the most momentous times in a young adult’s life is their senior year in high school.  It represents the transition to adulthood and is the culmination of years of hard work. One of the ways to acknowledge this special achievement is by incorporating senior recognition ideas into the celebration.

Senior recognition ideas help graduates know that their efforts were noticed and worthwhile.  It also helps them know that they are truly valued and provides wonderful inspiration for their future endeavors.  If you want to celebrate your senior, here are some memorable recognition ideas:

Newspaper Ad

Surprise your senior with a congratulatory ad in the local newspaper. Not only is it a great way to shout from the rooftops, the newspaper also becomes a precious keepsake.

T-shirt Quilt

T-shirt quiltIf you’re unfamiliar with what a T-shirt quilt is, be sure to check them out! Basically, you compile all of your student’s t-shirts from over the year (Soccer clubs, committees, homemade, etc) and create a quilt. It’s the perfect gift for remembering your high school career without lugging all your t-shirts around.

Certificates

There is no better way to call out special achievements than with certificates of merit. Certificates can be casual and fun, or even something inspiring!

Slide Show

Slide shows can be the perfect mixture of showing your senior how far they’ve come, while getting to slightly embarrass them while you brag!

Photo Album

Mark the milestone with a photographic timeline of lifetime achievements. To make it extra special, have friends and family add captions about their memories of the graduate.

Trophy

Piano Wood Shooting Star Award by PaperDirectCustomize a trophy with something special about your graduate.  You can make the inscription funny, or something serious. Either way it will be a special reminder of their accomplishments as well as how proud you are of them.

Target Gift Card

Take your recent grad dorm shopping to buy funky chairs, shag rugs and mini fridges. Also, be sure to stock them up on their favorite snack for college.

Senior Trip

Whether you take them on a extravagant trip over seas or a weekend camping trip, having one last hoorrah before senior year is over is important.

The senior year is filled with endings as well as new beginnings. Senior recognition ideas help make every moment of this time stand out.

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Why Freelancers Still Need Business Cards

Add Your Own Design Business Cards by PaperDirectCall it whatever you want. Freelancer. Entrepreneur. Contract worker. Solopreneur. Small business. When you’re a fabulously self-employed person, you must never miss an opportunity to connect with a possible customer.

Networking is the pathway to growing a business and building resources; you need a few tools in your arsenal. Sure, you have a professional profile on LinkedIn and share behind-the-scenes updates on your Facebook business page. But, there’s one key business document you must never leave home without: business cards.

6 Reasons Business Cards Rock for Freelancers

They may seem a bit old fashion in this day of smartphones and tablets, but those little wallet-size pieces of paper are truly magical.

Business Cards let you Network Anywhere, Anytime

There’s no more, “Hey, don’t forget to look up my website when you get back to the office.” conversations on a busy subway platform where it’s too congested or cold to dig out your phone. Exchange cards and follow-up with one another later.

Speaking of Exchanging Cards, this Method of Networking is a Two-way Street

If the recipient doesn’t reach out to you promptly, you have their details for a smooth, natural follow-up. Plus you have a conversation starter. “Remember when we met in person at …”.

Think of a Business Card as a Tiny Reflection of Yourself

It can be colorful, creative, professional, whimsical — or even have a joke printed on the back. After meeting someone, that little card becomes a snapshot memory of your initial meeting.

Pictures Speak Volumes

If you want someone to really remember who you are, hand them a business card with a photo of yourself, logo or product on the front. Next time they run into you or see your product online, there’s instant recognition.

Finally, business cards rock because they stick around

Camera Lens Business Cards by PaperDirectThey get put on a desk, stay in a purse or get tucked into a coat pocket. That almost always ensures they will get seen again (unlike an electronic message) and again. As a freelancer, it’s great to be at the top of someone’s mind beyond the initial connection.

So, is it time to get a fresh stockpile of business cards to keep handy? Paper Direct can help you design business cards online or stock your home office with printable business card sheets and a cutter to create your own. Never miss another opportunity to network with a possible customer again!

 

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Quiz: Are you a Joy to Work with? The Worst? Find Out

Are you a joy to work with? The worst? Find out below by taking our quiz. Then print your your free awards and hang them around the office with pride!


Congrats on your employee award! Now its time to show the office what kind of fantastic employee you are.

Download your Free Award Here:

Interested in providing your company with more awards? PaperDirect offers standard, specialty and casual award certificates that are perfect for any company, any size, any time of the year. Order yours today and read more about employee recognition on the PaperDirect blog.

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The Top 5 Reasons Employees are Leaving your Company

The Top 5 Reasons Employees are Leaving

As the new year gets underway, many people take a moment for self-reflection.

  • Does my career fulfill my professional goals?
  • Do I see a future with my employer?
  • Will I be happier if I change jobs?

So, it’s no surprise that many job changes occur during the first of the year. Plus, it’s when most companies post job openings. A new year brings a new financial schedule and untapped budgets, which translates into funding for new hires, according to a Forbes article online.  So, if you love your staff, show it. If not, they might look for greener pastures long before summer. Here’s why according to Inc. Magazine and CBS Moneywatch.

The Top 5 Reasons Employees are Leaving Your Company

1. There’s no advancement opportunities

When someone is hired for a position, they generally hope and strive to improve and move into a more senior position within their department or the company as a whole.

If you’re skipping annual reviews and fail to promote from within when a position becomes available, you’re at risk of losing some of your best talent.

Suggestion: Announce open positions within the company to staff a week before making it public. Let them know how much you value their dedication to the company and that they will be given the opportunity to apply first.

2. It’s difficult to balance work and family life.

balance Some employees turn in a resignation letter because it’s simply too difficult to afford childcare or care for an aging parent while holding down a job.

Although it’s difficult for employers to know about these issues at home, they can take a proactive approach to making their employees’ lives outside the office a bit easier.

Suggestion: Offer company perks such as a discounted rate a local daycare or with an in-home nursing care provider. Many companies negotiate group and corporate rates with businesses. All you have to do is ask!

3. There’s no pay increase in sight

pay increase For most employees, the paycheck is what brought them to the door and keeps them at their desk. We all need money to live, but when you see friends and family members getting raises or annual salary adjustments to keep up with inflation from their employers, it can be tough to stay at the same job

Suggestion: Putting a pay raise freeze in effect during tough economic times or when a company is struggling might be a reality. If you simply can’t offer pay raises right now, keep your employees content with other small gestures of gratitude.

An annual monetary bonus just before the holidays or a friendly quarterly contest with the chance to win some cash can keep employees happy.

4. The co-workers don’t get along

Unfortunately some office settings become as catty as the halls of a local high school.

When making new hires, think about the dynamic of the office culture and whether or not possible new employee will fit in. If there’s existing turmoil, take action ASAP to diffuse any future situations. Not surprisingly, the biggest rifts exist between bosses and the people they supervise.

Suggestion: Plan a monthly team-building activity. This can be as simple as a long, catered lunch with a guided exercise at the office, or a full day outing.

The goal for employees is to get to know more about one another, open up about their concerns and learn how to work through their feelings with the guidance of a professional workplace psychologist in a non-clinical setting.

5. You’re never recognized for a job well done

rewardIt’s incredibly easy to get wrapped up in weekly goals, which turn into monthly quotas and then quarterly reports. Sometimes as a business owner, you need to step back and celebrate the small steps that it takes to make the business run as a whole. Your employees will appreciate that you’re taking notice of their day-to-day dedication and extra efforts.

Suggestion: Make it a priority to celebrate both big and small accomplishments around the office. Send a congratulations out to the staff by email when a department lands a new account or place an award on the office door of someone who just finished a huge project that laid the groundwork for company success. There’s always something going on worth commending.

Is your employee turnover rate getting a little high? Maybe it’s time to conduct an anonymous staff survey to learn what employees love (and dislike) about their jobs.

In the meantime, plan a simple employee appreciation party on a Friday afternoon, complete with delicious catered snacks and humorous awards, to make the staff feel appreciated.

Paper Direct can help you get started. Browse the company’s online collection of certificates, awards, plaques and trophies to make your employees feel appreciated.

 

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How to Motivate Employees after a Layoff

motivation Whether the economy is in a boom or bust cycle, downsizing is an unfortunate reality for many companies at one time or another. It might be due to a merger or acquisition, restructuring for better efficiency or simply the need to cut the budget.

Whatever the reason, layoffs are tough on everyone. If not handled correctly, morale may take a nosedive and motivation may be in short supply.

Should your company ever face the difficult decision to downsize, here are a few key things to help keep your employees motivated and morale high:

Respect Employees’ Feelings

Employees who survive a layoffs can experience a wide range of emotions including guilt, relief, anger and sadness. These reactions aren’t surprising given how much time co-workers spend together on a day-to-day basis. While it may be tempting to adopt a “keep calm and carry on” attitude, this may make employees feel slighted and dismissed.

Instead, allow employees some time to process the change and talk about it with each other or in a group. It’s of course important to set some boundaries so that the office doesn’t devolve into non-stop complaining or bitterness. But cutting everyone some slack for a few days will help your staff heal and move on.

Acknowledge the Challenges & Opportunities

businessmenOften, when a layoff occurs, it means additional work for the employees who remain. This new shift in responsibility can cause fear and uncertainty. Put these fears to rest by immediately discussing and outlining what the employee will be expected to do and not do.

Try to keep the conversation as positive as possible. Point out the opportunities in career growth now available to them. Invite questions, listen closely and address any concerns that may arise.

Communicate Stability

Not surprisingly, after a layoff, the remaining employees may feel unsure about the stability of the company and the future of their jobs. Be transparent when talking about why the layoff happened and outline other changes upper management is making to improve the bottom line and overall health of the company.

Elicit Suggestions from Employees

suggestion All too often, companies forget to ask for input from those who are “in the trenches.” Many times, it’s these employees who see most clearly where changes can be made to increase productivity, cut costs and motivate co-workers.

Let your staff know that you appreciate their suggestions and welcome their input. When implementing an employee suggestion, don’t keep it quiet. Make sure your staff knows where this great idea came from. There’s nothing better for morale than feeling heard and valued.

Keep or Implement a Staff Recognition Program

After a layoff, it’s more important than ever to recognize and reward valuable employees. If you currently have a recognition program in place, make sure that it continues or even improve upon it. If you don’t have one, this is the perfect time to create one.

The more talent you can keep on board, the more likely your company is to come out on the other side stronger than ever.

 

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How to Relax & Revive Yourself at a Stationary Desk Job

office desk The holidays are over and it’s time to get back to work, work and more work. That can translate to endless hours at your desk and increased amounts of stress.

Sitting for long periods of time puts you at risk of gaining weight, increasing your blood pressure, raising blood sugar levels and elevating your risk for cardiovascular disease, according to James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D. from the Mayo Clinic.

It’s time to think outside the box when it comes to curbing afternoon yawns and midday bouts of stress. Here’s six ways to revive your energy, sit less and melt away stress during your work day.

Breathe Deep

We spend the whole day breathing quick, shallow breaths, especially if we’re nervous and working against a deadline. Give yourself permission to stop, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Take five to six seconds to inhale, feeling the air fill your belly. Then slowly exhale, noticing how the breath feels flowing past your lips or nostrils. Do this a few times each day to reduce anxiety.

Stand and Work

deskIf you have a home office, consider installing a standing treadmill desk. If that’s out of the budget, a standing desk where you can walk in place works too. Or, get started right now and vow to only make phone calls while standing. Get vertical and keep your blood flowing to stay sharp and fit all at the same time.

Be Positive

Make it a daily goal to compliment a co-worker, someone you interact with on the phone or even via email. These gestures make you feel good inside and perks up someone else’s day. After all, everyone loves to hear you liked their presentation or think their new hairstyle is cute, right?

Take Health Breaks

If it’s socially acceptable for smokers to step outside for breaks at your office, head to the door. But, instead of lighting up, look up. Notice the sky, the trees and your surroundings. Take a mental break from your work tasks and soak in the environment for a few minutes. This will relax your brain and recharge you for the next task on the to do list.

Eat Snacks

Yes! Eating between meals can be good for you. Skip the vending machine and nosh on a juicy clementine or a handful of grapes. The natural sugars in fruit give you an energetic boost and a dose of healthy vitamins.

Get Motivated

comfortable Surrounding yourself with words of encouragement keeps you focused on achieving goals and doing well. Splurge on a coffee mug with a cute saying or hang a poster in your office that gives off positive vibes. Maybe your positivity will rub off on those who stop by your workspace during the day!

How do you like to rejuvenate yourself to press on during a long workday? Tell us your ideas in the comments below.

 

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How to Make a “Specials Menu” for your Restaurant

Keep regular customers coming back for more by offering surprising new dishes and great deals. Daily specials can do the trick. After announcing your culinary creation of the day on Facebook and Twitter, greet restaurant visitors with colorful table menus complete with juicy descriptions and Instagram-like snapshots.

Here’s How to Make a Specials Menu Quickly

Have your Camera Handy

food-photography-tips-diyphotography-011When preparing a test-run of the special, get a few snaps from every angle. Show the texture and drool-worthiness of the food. Close-up photos work best. Use a frosty beverage or a few fresh ingredients as props near the plate. Here are tips for photographing your food to make it look scrumptious.

If you don’t have time to devote to this, its best not to use images. Just be sure to describe your food instead!

Name the Dish

Give the special a clever name that highlights a flavor (seasonings, uncommon ingredients) the origin of the ingredients (local, imported, rare) or uses a fun play on words to coordinate with a local news topic or holiday.

Write a Description

In addition to listing the ingredients and mentioning if the dish is allergen friendly (egg-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan) briefly tell customers what it tastes like. Keep it simple and use one or two words like zesty, tangy, mild, refreshing or bold.

Keeping it even simpler? List the ingredients (from most-used to least) and let your customer’s imagination create the flavor in their minds.

specials menu Design the Menu

Choose decorative paper that coordinates with the restaurant theme and washable acrylic easels. Format the names of the specials, their descriptions and prices in one simple-to-read column, leaving wide margins to display the photos.

Consider placing the menu is a menu holder to keep it from getting crinkled or damp. If not, be prepared to print and toss copies every night.

Post the Special

Now take a quick snapshot of the specials menu and share the photo. Add it to the restaurant’s blog, social media accounts, website and restaurant directory listings to get as much exposure as possible.

That’s it! Now place the specials menus on each table, by the entryway, on the bar and in other highly visible places to let customers in the restaurant know about the day’s delicious deals.

PaperDirect offers print at home menus that are perfect if your specials are always changing or rotating. Simply order menu paper in bulk and print when your specials change.

Are you getting ready to feature a great special at your restaurant? While you concentrate on the cuisine, let us serve up some eye-catching paper choices and menu holders to delight your customers.

 

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2015 Is the Year of the Employee

year of the employee

With the economy continuing to recover in many sectors, it’s more important than ever for companies to hire and retain good employees.

As a recent Wall Street Journal article noted, “High employee turnover hurts a company’s bottom line. Experts estimate it costs upwards of twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. And churn can damage morale among remaining employees.

In other words, happy employees translate into a healthy company.

Offering a competitive salary is a good start, but that’s not the only thing that contributes to job satisfaction. Here are five simple ways to let employees know they’re valued and appreciated:

Plump up your benefits package

Depending on your company’s size, you probably offer some sort of benefits package that includes health insurance and paid time off.But what other things could you offer that your employees would find valuable and would benefit you as well?

Perhaps a free or discounted gym membership (less time off for illness). Maybe monthly in-office chair massages (a great stress buster). Free association dues or tuition for a class that will further their skill set. Get creative and think outside the box!

Regularly recognize employees’ contributions

rewardWhen employees work hard and contribute to your business’ success, it’s important to recognize and reward their efforts. Think about starting an employee recognition program and handing out monthly awards.

If there’s an entire department that’s gone above and beyond, buy them lunch. When you hit the quarterly revenue, stop for a moment and do something to celebrate with your employees and thank them for everything they do.

Offer more flexibility

flexibility Each year, telecommuting on a full- or part-time basis is becoming more popular with both employees and employers.

Allowing employees to work from home has been shown to be cost-effective while increasing productivity and decreasing turnover. If your employees absolutely must be onsite, consider offering them the chance to set their own hours (within reason) or give them paid time off for things like doctor’s appointments.

Ask for and respond to feedback

Sure, that suggestion box in the hallway is nice. But are you actually reading the cards that employees drop into it? And if so, are you taking action on any of the suggestions?  If employees think their ideas are just going into some black hole, never to be heard from again, they won’t even bother. But if their ideas are acknowledged and acted upon, they’re more likely to feel valued and continue to come up with ways to make business better.

Encourage work-life balance

partySome companies send the often unspoken message that the employees who work longer hours are the ones who are more valued and valuable. However, more and more studies show that a healthy, happy employee is a more productive one.

To keep employees at their best and avoid burn-out, cultivate a corporate culture that encourages them to take time away to connect with friends and family, exercise and relax.

 

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5 Ways to Celebrate National Fun at Work Day

Let’s face it. Most of us would rather by lying on a beach somewhere instead of cooped up in an office cubicle. Why? Because it’s FUN!balloons

For some reason, the word “fun” isn’t usually associated with work. Far too often, words like stress, boredom and drudgery spring to mind instead.

But why shouldn’t work be fun? More and more studies are showing that encouraging employees to have fun and play during work is a smart business move. According to the nonprofit, HelpGuide.org, play can relieve stress, improve brain function, boost creativity and improve relationships. All things that can help companies grow and prosper!

If you’re not quite ready to pass out hula hoops or build a playground in the breakroom, start slow by celebrating National Fun at Work Day on January 28th.

Start preparing for the day by asking employees what they think would be fun. If people are stumped (because how often do we get asked about fun at work?), here are a few ideas to get you started.

Plan a potluck

easy thanksgiving potluck recipes apple cheesecakeAll too often, employees work through lunch or eat at their desks. A potluck will encourage your staff to step away from their computers and connect with their coworkers.

Set it up in a large communal area or outside if you live in a warm area of the country.

Provide a few simple games like a bean bag toss or a dart board to loosen people up and get them laughing.

Set up celebration stations

Arrange to have different tables throughout the office with an assortment of fun activities. For example, one might have sketchbooks or coloring books while another might have chess or checkers. Allow employees to access these stations throughout the day as they wish.

Have a “decorate the cubicle” contest

Christmas Cubicle Decorating ContestIf your employees work in the dreaded “cubicle farm,” they may find it less than inspiring. Why not encourage them to have a little fun and decorate their spaces any way they like? You can either stick with a central theme (i.e., tropical paradise) or allow them to come up with their own.

Bring in supplies like streamers, confetti, balloons or anything else that makes sense. End the event by handing out awards in categories like “most creative” or “best use of materials.”

Dress down or dress up

For a change of pace, shake up the dress code. If your office is typically a buttoned-up, suit-and-tie environment, let employees know that, for one day only, they can wear jeans! If you really want to go crazy, tell them to haul out the flip flops. If your office is already casual, declare a “crazy costume” day. Or you could even go in the opposite direction and encourage employees to put on the ritz by donning formal or cocktail attire.

Have a garage sale

Okay, since it’ll be held in your office, it won’t be a garage sale exactly. Instead, maybe call it “desktop deals” or “cubicle close-out.” But the idea is the same.

Encourage employees to bring in items from home to sell. These items can include knick knacks, clothing or even their own crafts. Allow everyone to “shop” at each other’s desks or set up your business bazaar in a conference room or break room. To keep it simple, make sure that everyone brings and accepts cash only.

These are just a few suggestions but the possibilities are endless. And don’t stress too much about it! After all, that defeats the purpose of a “have fun at work day,” doesn’t it?

 

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