March 1 is Employee Appreciation Day.
And what better way to appreciate your employees than to show them you care?
Gift certificates, bonuses, parties are all great… but how do we create the experience of being appreciated that lasts after the gift certificate has been cashed in? After the bonus has been spent? After the party is over?
How To Help People Deeply Care
First, we show people we care, and the table below will do just that. Next, we help others care.
How do we inspire people to want to accel, innovate, care, collaborate, contribute above and beyond the call of duty?
It’s emotional engagement
Taking it personally.
Wanting to make a difference.
Wanting to be part of something bigger than yourself.
And we can create it with one hormone and two neurotransmitters. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Watch a flock of starlings, a school of fish. They are “voting“ on direction at every moment.
Does your culture foster these qualities?
Emotional Engagement = 1 Hormone + 2 Neurotransmitters
You’ve heard me say before that the hormone oxytocin, and the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine are the recipe for emotional engagement. Now let’s talk about what happens emotionally when these are released in your system. Think of your brain as a garden. Oxytocin is the fertilizer for love and emotional connection. Seratonin is the fertilizer for feeling good. Dopamine is the fertilizer for learning and goal achievement.
Let’s map this to practical programs you can put in place right now at work, to benefit the brains of your tribe, to help them feel appreciated, to help you appreciate them more too.
|Cultural Program||Emotional Experience (Safety, Belonging, Mattering)||What’s Released In Your Brain (This is The Tip Of The Iceberg—There’s A Lot More Happening Too!)|
|Appreciation Programs: High Fives, Rock Star/Employee of the Month||Belonging, Mattering||Serotonin, Dopamine|
|Effective Onboarding Programs: Start when the job is posted, continue for the first year at the organization||Safety, Belonging, Mattering||Oxytocin, Serotonin|
|Performance Motivation (NOT Performance Management!): Impact Descriptions, Individual Development Plans, Self-Evaluations for Performance Reviews||Safety, Belonging, Mattering||Dopamine|
|Feedback: Feedback Frames, 7 Step Feedback Frames||Safety, Mattering||Oxytocin, Serotonin, Dopamine|
|Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs||Belonging, Mattering||Oxytocin, Serotonin|
|Having a compelling Mission/Purpose, Vision and Values||Belonging, Mattering||Oxytocin, Serotonin|
|Rewards/Awards/Benefits: For Performance, Agility, Innovation, Service, etc.||Mattering||Dopamine|
|Employee Engagement Surveys||Safety, Belonging, Mattering||Oxytocin, Serotonin, Dopamine|
What It Means To Be Human
As humans, we’re not as fast or as strong as animals like lions and tigers. We don’t have fangs and claws. But we do have compassion and collaboration—two forces that are tremendously potent in human nature. Think of a little baby. It depends utterly, completely on other humans in order to become human. We exist because we belong. We know we belong because we are cared for, feed, cleaned, nurtured. Likewise, at work, we need to know we fit in, we’re accepted, we’re part of the tribe. The above table will help you create this experience.
Also, it’s key to note that we feel one another’s pain. Our brains register pain when we see others suffering, thanks to mirror neurons. When this occurs we feel some of what the person in pain is feeling–we are hard-wired for a compassionate response to others–thanks to our amygdala and our insula. Separately, as we earn the trust of others our ventral striatum lights up to register the reward of connecting with, sharing with and helping others. This is how amazing it is to be human.