The New Normal: Stop Being Normal

Even when things go back to "normal," they won't be the same.
Molly Blabolil-Erfort
VP of Marketing @ Marketing Innovators, Intl.
View Chapters
Previous Chapter
Making it Personal
Next Chapter
These are trying times. That's why it's more important than ever to maintain The Human Connection.

During this time of uncertainty and turmoil it is critical to sustain communication and strengthen human connections. Americans across the globe are tasked with exercising social distancing and mandatory work from home initiatives. At Marketing Innovators we believe that employee engagement is critical to the success of your organization, it’s what we do. However, as we all face uncertainty amid these challenging times, we realize more than ever the value of our employees and the critical role they have in our success. Here are a few ways to not only keep yourself engaged, but encourage others to do so as well.

  • Routine: Does your daily routine include early morning yoga, meditation or singing Beyoncé in the shower? These already established routines don’t need to change just because you’re not heading out the door to work. Continue to practice your daily routine as this will help to keep things somewhat normal. Don’t have a daily routine or looking to try something new? Now is the time to try it! By starting simple you are more likely to stick with it. And you can always add to it as time goes on. Setting a daily routine saves time along with the added benefits of instilling good habits and reducing procrastination.
  • Communication: Are you a chatty Cathy? Do you thrive communicating via a social media? Or do prefer to communicate from behind your computer screen? Staying in touch is crucial to business and to life and now is the time to give them all a try. Keeping in touch with coworkers, vendors, and business partners, may require a different form of communication than those you’d use with family and friends. So find the communication form that resonates best with your audience. Host meetings, team happy hours or lunches via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, or other web cams. Having these consistent check-ins are a great way to provide support to one another in these difficult days. Emails are great, but sometimes they can be misinterpreted or misunderstand, so don’t hesitate to hop on the phone to clarify what is needed.
  • Recognition: Are you searching for ways to help those who are in the front line or support local businesses? Or just looking to stay in touch with your employees? There are many forms or recognition from thank you phone calls and emails to monetary incentives that let people know they’ve gone above and beyond. In these trying times, e-gift cards are a great option for everyone. Send e-gift cards to thank first responders and charity organizations who are serving those in need. E-gift cards are a great way to help your employees adapt to their new work from home accommodations. Or better yet,send them a little extra incentive or recognition and let them choose items that will help them and their families during this time of isolation and social distancing. E-gift cards can be beneficial to everyone and have a variety of uses including purchasing essential items, family entertainment like board games and movies, or even supplies for starting a new hobby.
  • Have fun: As Bob Marley would say, “Don’t worry, Be Happy”… or at least as much as you can. Tensions are high and we don’t know how long mandatory social distancing will last. Keep things light-hearted and maintain a sense of humor. If you or a coworker has kids, family members or pets at home, laugh when you hear guest speakers joining the conference call or show up on the video chat. Be a team player if you’re asked to help with a task that normally isn’t your responsibility. Coworkers might be pulled away from their day-to-day functions to care for others or may be even feeling a bit under the weather themselves. Much of this is out of our control and we must embrace this change, which for now is the new normal.

We hope this time will be short-lived and everyone stays safe and healthy. Use these tips and tricks to support your employees, business partners, friends and family. Embrace the national work from home operation and social distancing as a time to learn, grow, and refresh our engagement practices with each other. Contact a Marketing Innovators specialist to learn how to support and recognize your employees. We’re here for you.

Reward Codes for Recognition

Is real life starting to feel a bit like the movie Groundhog Day? You are not alone… the monotony of shutdown is affecting all of us. Employers across the globe continue to mandate work from home schedules to protect their employees and allow for continued social distancing. As a result, many employees are finding it difficult to shut down their computers and turnoff their notifications. It feels like the work day continues to grow longer and the typical five day schedule is a thing of the past. At MI, we’ve been seeing those lines get blurred as well. Which is why we created a solution.

Ultimately, employees deserve to be recognized for the great work and even greater hours they’re clocking. One quick and easy way to do that is with gift cards. Gift cards are a great corporate gift for every milestone: employee birthdays, work anniversaries, employee appreciation week, holidays, or just to break up the monotony of life in 2020.

To make gift cards even more appealing as a reward option, try sending Reward Codes. These digital codes can be personalized and sent by email, and best of all they give employees the ability to choose which cards they want from hundreds of top brands! The entire process is so easy, from setup, to administration, to redemption, that it’s truly a no-brainer win-win solution.

Reward Codes save time and money, and provide employers the opportunity to send gifts remotely. Additionally, gift cards accommodate a busy life schedule because people no longer have to go into the store to use their gift card, most can be redeem online.

All you have to do is choose the value of the Reward Code and the employees can pick their favorite brand! These days, you have to allow for that kind of flexibility. While some people may want a Starbucks gift card to so they can recapture the old morning routine of a freshly brewed drink that is made for them, others would rather redeem for an REI gift card to purchase gear for their next camping or road trip.

Setup is so fast and easy that there’s no reason to over think it. We’re here to make it easier for you to make your employees feel special. Break up these pandemic doldrums by giving your employees something to look forward to (and a reason to stay productive)!

The Future of the Workforce is in the Employee Experience

In a 2020 survey conducted by HR Sentiment – 50% of HR representatives and business leaders ranked employee experience as their top initiative. Employee experience was ranked significantly higher than AI, people analytics, and employee compensation and benefits. Based on the research it is evident employers and business leaders alike have their employees’ top-of-mind. Furthermore, as stated in the article, 41% of employees reported feeling burned out and 23% reported feeling depressed, which further solidifies the need for a stronger and more empathetic employee experience.

In order to build a business and manifest its growth and success, employees must be nurtured and recognized. In other words, to succeed takes time, so slow things down – allow people to take a breath and hit the reset button. We all need to recharge after a few months of stay-at-home orders.

Start by allocating time to refresh, reboot, and reconstruct your purpose and goals. This is important to do professionally and personally. Dedicating time to refocus the mind will allow for better, more constructive progress in the future and foster successful collaboration in the workplace.

Here are five lessons provided by the Future Workplace businesses.

  1. “See employee experience through the eyes of employees.”
  2. “Listen to your employees to understand the type of virtual/physical workplace they want.”
  3. “Future of work is worker well-being.”
  4. “Employee experience is a business initiative that requires involvement from multiple partners and stakeholders.”
  5. “Finally, use agile methods to design for the “optimal experience” rather than just solving a pressing problem.”’

These five lessons will improve the employee experience because it encourages managers and leadership to stop and listen to how their team members and coworkers are feeling. It challenges employers to put themselves in the shoes of their employees.

As a result of the worldwide pandemic, there have been multiple changes and expectations incorporated into daily society. Social distancing is the new norm and individuals are required to wear face masks inside offices, stores, salons, and other social spaces. Although, we don’t know how long these changes will last, we do know that we’ll forever be changed. The health and well-being of employees will forever be a top priority in the employee experience.

Implementing a tool that allows for recognition, acknowledgments, and wellness can help with the employee experience. Even better if that solution allows for personal accountability, asocial wall to share ideas and motivate each other, and videos to demonstrate different styles of exercise. Motivation can be difficult, but with these tools companies can add incentives and rewards for participating in these experiences.

Great options are gift cards or a merchandise catalog to allow employees to choose their reward. It’s the most effective way to offer the freedom of choice and improve the employee experience. Altogether, employee mental, behavioral and physical health are not just the priorities for each individual, but also for a productive and safe work environment.

How to Show Employee Appreciation During a Crisis

As the word begins to transition back to normalcy, it’s important to consider your employees’ well-being and thank them for adapting to this unexpected “new normal.” Over the past few months, many people have been sick, some have lost loved ones, and some have been tasked with playing new roles in their daily lives. Some employees have had to work two full-time jobs, as an employee and a parent or caretaker, and everything in between.

There’s no question that the shock of a pandemic has produced some level of impact on all of your employees, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or a combination. Taking all of these measures into account, there has never been a more monumental or important time to thank and appreciate your employees. Here are a few effective and creative ways to show them they’re cared for and appreciated during this crisis.

Send a personalized note with a gift card – Say thank you to your employees with a thoughtful gift card. Gift cards give your employees flexibility to choose what they need or want for themselves. Gift cards can be sent via email with a custom note, or mailed in bulk and distributed in-person in the office. Gift cards are well received by people near and far because of their versatility. Recipients have the option to spend it on themselves or purchase a gift for someone else.

Send a gift bundle - Show your employees you care by welcoming them back into the office with a ‘gift bundle.’ You can choose from pre-selected arrangements or create your own personalized package. A gift bundle with a few thoughtful items will show them you care, build excitement and perhaps encourage a sense of calmness or relief as they return to their daily routine. Gift bundles can be mailed directly to an employee’s home, as a work from home bundle, or sent in bulk directly to the office to wait for each employee on their desk.

Implement a recognition program – The most effective way to continually recognize and reward your employees for their hard work is by implementing an employee recognition program. Our recognition platform is a robust SaaS solution that allows managers to distribute points that can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, and travel. The platform has custom branding and has various modules that allow for birthday and anniversary acknowledgements and rewards, peer-to-peer recognition, a feedback and survey tool, and more. Each module can be turned on and off to fit your wants and needs. This is a great option for companies around the globe who are still working remote or back in the office and practicing social distancing because it has a full feature social wall that allows employees to interact and communicate digitally throughout the workday and beyond.

Altogether, employees are the foundation to your company’s success. Maintaining employee trust is essential to your business. Use this time as an opportunity to invest in your foundations. After all, employees should be recognized year round for their hard work and contributions and not just when times get tough. Contact a Marketing Innovators specialist today to help discuss which recognition outlet is the right fit for you.

Distractions, Procrastination, and Recognition During a Pandemic

As James Clear, states in his novel, Atomic Habits, we’re human and “human beings have been procrastinating for centuries.” Today, as most of us are under a shelter-in-place order and have settled in to working remotely, we wonder about the long-term impact this will have on our lives. Can we maintain both our personal and business lives within this “new normal”? Will we fall victim to distractions and excuses further leading us down the road of procrastination? Or will we rise above and find new meaning in our daily routines?

Arguably, the source of our distractions has monumentally grown in recent years and even more so in recent days. As technology has evolved, so too have our distractions. Smart devices, instant notifications, social media, are all at our fingertips 24/7. Many people were already spread thin working full-time, while balancing all the responsibilities of home-life, going to school full or part-time, and finding “me time” to pursue hobbies and stay healthy.

Today, we’ve added another layer of distraction. Perhaps you now need to worry about home-schooling, setting up structured time for the entire household, or helping out family and friends as we navigate these unprecedented times. Has structure and consistency gone out the window? Do you feel you have earned the right to procrastinate during work or at home because the world, your world, has been turned upside down?

“Behavioral psychology research has revealed a phenomenon called ‘time inconsistency,’ which helps explain why procrastination seems to pull us in despite our good intentions. Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards” writes James Clear.

So what is the long-term effect of procrastination on businesses in today’s world and the challenges we face? For some the answers may seem clear, for others not so much. Enter rewards and recognition. We all seek to be immediately recognized for our contributions and hard-work, but in today’s world how can we quantify this? Is there justification for this extra spend to keep people engaged and on-track, steering them away from the slippery slope of procrastination? The simple answer is yes, however it may require a larger commitment; and not only is this doable, but quite frankly, needed.

As leaders, we are being called upon to do more to help our businesses and support our employees. We need to check in with our people on how they are doing both personally and as it relates to their day-to-day responsibilities. Do they have everything they need to get the job done? Do the feel connected to their peers in this time of isolation? Do they feel appreciated for the work they are doing just to maintain normal business operations? Are they being recognized for stepping-up and doing more during this time of crisis?

This is the time to acknowledge where the extra incentives are needed and try to proactively stave off procrastination, but also recognize those who are going above and beyond. Immediate rewards and recognition can positively affect the long-term goals of your future organization. Now is the time to send that care-package with fun or necessary tools to keep people engaged.

Or better yet show public recognition on the weekly conference call to those who have picked up extra responsibilities or streamlined processes that fit in with our new forms of communications like conference calls and video meetings. Shout-outs and virtual high-fives from management and peers are greatly appreciated, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to provide monetary recognition for those extra special occasions.

As humans we not only want, but need recognition. Recognizing your employees not only shows your appreciation, but reminds them of the role they play in driving company success. Your employees are the foundation for your business and their contributions, both today and in the future, should be recognized.