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There are many factors that determine happiness on the job. Attractive salaries, work-life balance and relationships with peers and leaders may first come to mind, but we may be overlooking one important key: feeling appreciated. An October 2014 study by The Boston Consulting Group and The Network discovered that “appreciation for your work” was ranked as the No. 1 factor for happiness on the job.
Proposal management professionals are no exception. We play an important role for our organizations, often while managing tight deadlines and high levels of stress. We want to feel that our contributions matter. Failing to feel acknowledged can be costly for individuals and organizations alike, leading to burnout, absenteeism, lack of engagement, turnover and increased health care costs. In fact, the Harvard Business Review estimates that burnout costs U.S. employers between $125 billion to $190 billion dollars in health care spending each year.
Start showing appreciation today to help energize your proposal team, increase morale, retain top talent and express their significance. These tips can help you get started.
- It doesn’t have to be costly. We may feel we don’t have the budget for recognition, but the old adage is true: It’s the thought that counts. From heartfelt words of gratitude, a handwritten note or card, or offering a high performer a primo parking space for the week, appreciation doesn’t have to break the bank.
- Let’s go shopping. If the budget does allow, gift cards are a great way to say thanks. The amount should be based on the level of accomplishment being celebrated and your budget. Personalization is always best. Take the time to learn where members of your team shop or eat and give a gift card unique to them.
- Tie recognition to company values. You can help demonstrate to team members that their extraordinary efforts are impactful and meaningful to the organization. When presenting recognition, be sure to emphasize how the achievement connects to your company’s values, culture and purpose.
- Celebrate careers. Proposal professionals want to feel that their time on the team is well-spent and recognized. To celebrate key career anniversaries, arrange a special gathering to honor the employee. Invite some of their peers, leaders or even family members to share remarks about their impact.
- Make it public. From posting accomplishments on an intranet or company webpage, to acknowledging performance in a team meeting or huddle (you can even call a quick stand-up meeting to call out a recent accomplishment), public recognition is effective. It gives credit where it’s due and reinforces the value of the achievement to your team. In turn, this inspires further engagement.
- Celebrate among peers. Peer-to-peer recognition allows proposal team members to connect and bond with each other. Set up a designated email address and inbox where team members can recognize each other, and share the results in a team meeting. Create a trophy for your team (bonus if it incorporates your organization’s purpose) that gets passed around. It may be for the MVP of a project or, perhaps, every week, someone new is nominated, and they get to keep the award at their desk.
- Celebrate the team. Whether bringing in lunch or going out to celebrate, team recognition helps everyone feel appreciated and allows them time to bond outside of projects and deadlines.
- Get out of the office. A long lunch or an extra day off allows your employees well-deserved time to unwind, relax and come back ready to tackle the next big proposal.
- Include subject-matter experts. From IT professionals to engineers and sales staff, it often takes a village to create a winning proposal response. Including subject-matter experts helps them see the value in their contributions and strengthens relationships you can leverage in future opportunities.
- When in doubt, ask your team. As part of the onboarding process, have new team members share a little about themselves in a team member profile. This can include their birthdate, favorite treats and how they like to be recognized. Beyond helping your team get to know each other, you’ll better understand what types of appreciation resonates with them.
No matter what you do, get started today and remember that the best employee recognition begins with heartfelt appreciation and ends with a personal touch. The rewards of doing so will be felt across your proposal team and throughout your organization.
Alex Churchward, CF APMP, is a strategic proposal specialist at O.C. Tanner, a global HR technology and services company, dedicated to helping people thrive at work. Alex is based in Salt Lake City.