Recent blog posts - All things Apple Awards

All things Apple Awards

Who is Apple Awards, what do we do and how can we help you honor and recognize achievement and loyalty to your organization and the people closest to you?

About Productive Work

About Productive Work

 

The language may differ slightly from business to business, but when employers are able to openly express what they are looking for in an employee, there are some fairly clear characteristics. The following three posts highlight some of those qualities from a survey found at America's Job Exchange, and from the personal experience of Apple Awards employer, Dennis Smith.

  Post Three: Fitting the Business Culture

 We define our business culture with words like honesty, integrity, service and productivity. Are you dependable? Can you see yourself taking personal ownership of the different aspects of this job? It is such a relief to me to have an employee who is on the job when expected, who looks the part, who conducts themselves professionally with a high level of commitment. The ability to apply yourself during work hours and give your best effort is so important. 

And do you realize that you represent our brand to the public? Even when you’re not at work, your words and actions can reflect on the business. Do you have a good sense of what is appropriate, and do you consider yourself a “balanced” person, giving full value to all areas of your life?

 

From Dennis: The last thing of tremendous value to me is that an employee be efficient in their work. Balancing home life, community service, hobbies and work can be complicated and sometimes overwhelming. At Apple Awards we strive to offer our staff flexibility as they coordinate these areas of life. In return we ask team members to demonstrate efficiency. Because we actually assemble and personalize most of our items to order, on site, a lot of time and labor goes into each product. We expect that time spent at work will be as productive as possible in order that we can give our clients the best product at the best price.  

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About Creative Work

About Creative Work

 

The language may differ slightly from business to business, but when employers are able to openly express what they are looking for in an employee, there are some fairly clear characteristics. The following three posts highlight some of those qualities from a survey found at America's Job Exchange, and from the personal experience of Apple Awards employer, Dennis Smith.

 

Point Two: Self-motivation,  Creativity, Desire to Learn and Grow

 Are you self-motivated? Will I have to show you everything that needs to be done, or will you assess what is happening around you and step up and be a contributor? I need problem solvers and creative thinkers. I want to be aware of your “inner drive”.  

 As an owner, I want this business to grow and succeed. I want you to be able to grow with it and have long term potential as your skills and experience increase. Don’t be afraid to investigate new methods

 

From Dennis: Another thing I look for in my employees is a desire to grow in their work knowledge and a sincere interest in what they are doing. Just going through the motions results in poor quality work and poor customer service. I like to see an employee thinking through the production process, learning and asking questions about what, how and why. That is how they add value to the process. It is my opinion that we work in a very complex industry. Personalized recognition products are just that, personal! They often include custom features such as specific colors and fonts that reflect the tastes of the presenter. It's so important that we take the time to read the notes, ask questions, offer our professional opinions based on experience, and work as a team to offer the best product possible.  

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About Teamwork

About Teamwork

 

lThe language may differ slightly from business to business, but when employers are able to openly express what they are looking for in an employee, there are some fairly clear characteristics in common to them all. The following three posts highlight some of those qualities from a survey found at America's Job Exchange and from the personal experience of Apple Awards employer, Dennis Smith.

Point One: Have a Positive, Customer Centered, Team Enhancing Attitude

 Obviously, none of us succeeds alone in our work. We are a team and have to help each other. How are you at giving praise to others for work well done? Are you an encourager? Do you like working with the other employees and do they like working with you?

 How will you react when there is a crisis in our work? We don’t always anticipate angry customers, rush jobs, and short staffing but we have to respond to solve those problems and not escalate them. Do you meet challenges like these with a positive attitude?

  From Dennis: I would ask my employees to be humble, team players and to treat their fellow workers with the utmost honor and respect. Customer service is super important at Apple Awards and is the core of our work culture. I believe that customer service starts with the way we treat and interact with the people we work with. Yes, I believe the way we treat our teammates precedes the way we treat our customers. If we don’t get it right in the workplace there is no way the customer is going to get the kind of service they deserve from the whole team. In our industry, the customer experience starts with the sales person, the order is assembled by another employee, engraved by the next worker, often cleaned, inspected, shipped and serviced by additional personnel. There is nothing worse than thinking you are serving the customer by putting down someone on your own team. We can and should find healthy, constructive ways of dealing with our internal problems.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One on One with Your Employer

 

The language may differ slightly from business to business, but when employers are able to openly express what they are looking for in an employee, there are some fairly clear characteristics. The following three posts highlight some of those qualities from a survey found at www….. and from the personal experience of Apple Awards employer, Dennis Smith.

 

 

Post Three: Fitting the Business Culture

 

We define our business culture with words like honesty, integrity, service and productivity. Are you dependable? Can you see yourself taking personal ownership of the different aspects of this job? It is such a relief to me to have an employee who is on the job when expected, who looks the part, who conducts themselves professionally with a high level of commitment.

 

Do you realize that you represent our brand to the public? Even when you’re not at work, your words and actions can reflect on the business. Do you have a good sense of what is appropriate, and do you consider yourself a “balanced” person?

 

From Dennis: The last thing of tremendous value to me is that an employee be efficient in their work. Balancing home life, community service, hobbies and work can be complicated and sometimes overwhelming. At Apple Awards we strive to offer our staff flexibility as they coordinate these areas of life. In return we ask team members to demonstrate efficiency. Because we actually assemble and personalize most of our items to order, on site, a lot of time and labor goes into each product. We expect that time spent at work will be as productive as possible in order that we can give our clients the best product at the best price.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Open Letter to an Employer

Open Letter to  an Employer

A healthy business relies on open communication between management and employees. A small business is somewhat like a family where all parties have direct access to each other, often on a daily basis. Responsibility for issues like problem solving and recognition for accomplishment rest equally with all parties, since they all may be sharing job descriptions and wearing several hats. But what happens when the workforce grows and management and employees become separate and less accessible to each other? Formal recognition programs can help, but they still rely on open communication, such as the letter below.

Check our next blog post for "I Am Your Employer". 

 

I Am Your Employee

I have noticed that the business world is full of books, blogs and conferences about how you as an employer can recognize me and my work. It is true that there are organized ways of doing this, the nuts and bolts of rewarding work well done, but I want to add something.

The plaque on the wall, the paperweight on my desk, the mention in the newsletter only take on real importance to me when they have a face behind them.

I need to know that a person who not only cares about the company, but also cares about me has appreciated and responded to my work efforts.

I want to have regular feedback that encourages and directs. Once a month is not regular.

I want to remember the sincere words of the person who benefits from my efforts – my manager, my boss.

I want to feel trusted, encouraged to use my skills and empowered to do even more, to grow.

I want my job to do more than “put bread on the table”. I want it to be a means by which I add value to other people and to society.

I do, however, want my job to “put bread on the table”.

I want to know that you’re planning with me for my future welfare.

If you can do these things through a reward and recognition program I will gladly join your recognition culture. I will come to work with a positive attitude of expectation and engagement. I will think about my work and how I can improve. I will be creative. I will encourage others and I will work in cooperation with your vision.  I am your employee.

 

Are you an employee? What would you like to add to this communication?

 

 

 

 

 

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An Oscar (or an Apple?)

An Oscar (or an Apple?)

The concept of awarding excellence has probably been around as long as people have been doing excellent things (a long time…). One of the early ceremonies in the United States, the Academy Awards, has been held since 1929, and has acquired a lot of interesting trivia. Since it’s summer and time for a little fun, here are some facts you can use to impress friends while you’re sitting around waiting for the hamburgers to come off the grill.

 

The Academy Awards, now called The Oscars, is the oldest awards ceremony in the worldwide entertainment sector.

The ceremony in 2017 was the 89th and next spring will be the 90th birthday of the awards.

The first Academy Awards ceremony was only 15 minutes in length and had only 270 viewers.

The Best Picture Award in 1929 went to the movie “Wings” starring Douglas Fairbanks and William C. deMille. 

Live radio coverage of the Awards was held most years starting in 1930.

Coverage was cut short in 1939 since the station did not have permission to broadcast live. The radio host was whispering the names of winners as he sat, out of sight, in the balcony.

NBC was the first network to broadcast the event nationally in the 50’s for 8 years.

ABC has broadcast the Awards for 42 years to date and has contracted to continue until 2028.

The longest Best Picture Winner was “The Departed” in 2006, lasting 3 hours and 51 minutes.

The Awards highest number of viewers was in 1952 with 40 million watching as “The Greatest Show on Earth” got the Best Picture Award.

57 million viewers watched in 1998 when “Titanic” got the Award.

Bob Hope takes the prize for hosting 18 of the Academy Awards Ceremonies!

Only 4 women have hosted the Awards more than once – Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Fonda, Ellen DeGeneres, and Goldie Hawn.

Awards are given in 24 different categories of the motion picture industry. The Emmy awards (theater), and the “Grammys” (music and recording) were all modeled after The Oscars.

3, 048 Oscars have been awarded since the practice began.

Nameplates on the “Oscars” are left blank to prevent winners being identified ahead of the ceremony.

Since 1950, legally, neither the winners or their heirs can sell their award statues without offering to sell them back to the Academy for $1.

The heirs of Orson Welles sold the Oscar he won for Best Original Screenplay, “Citizen Kane”, for $861,542 but they had to win a court battle to do it. They claimed he did not sign the legal agreement.

Harold Russell, the winner of Best Supporting Actor for “The Best Years of Our Lives” is the only Academy Award winning actor to ever sell his own Oscar. He won it before 1950 and no agreement was yet in place. 

Approximately 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences vote to determine the winners of The Oscars.

Our Crystal Apple Awards may not yet have the fame of The Oscars, but you can know that 90 years from now they will look just as beautiful as they do today.

 

These and many more interesting facts about the Oscars can be found online at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Awards/

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The Next New Thing

The Next New Thing

Have you ever thought of sending your work team on a cruise? Or scheduling a meeting around "happy hour"?

Would you ever consider doing away with the conference room table and putting in couches and a pleasant view?

These are not isolated examples of how to encourage laziness and cut productivity. They are, in fact, examples of what some companies are doing to enhance the creativity of their work teams. According to Boland Jones, founder and CEO of PGI, a global provider of conferencing and collaboration solutions, it does just that.

Innovation, coming up with the next new thing, is an important element in the success of any company. From his article, Jones gives ideas that have helped innovation teams be at their creative best.  Among them are the "happy hour" approach, similar to the example given above and the "take a mental break" suggestion, which would describe the cruise. He also thinks small breaks, like checking social media or having a conversation with a co-worker, can refresh the mind and clear the way for a new idea. 

Another suggestion, "throw out the rule book", was to encourage all ideas. Even the ones that seem impossible might inspire someone else to think of a solution. Writing all the ideas down also makes a visual impact and makes good use of those whiteboards and post-it notes. Since the hardest part is often starting the flow of ideas, Bond suggests making a game of it, and focusing on what the goal should be instead of how to get there. That's how innovation starts.

Innovation is used to solve problems, and every business encounters problems of some kind. Does your business have a current issue needing to be worked on? Problem solving methods such as these can also work at home and in personal relationships. Unlock your creativity! Check out what innovation research might offer to your business.

www.entrepreneur.com/article/232656

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228171

 

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Where Do You Fit?

Where Do You Fit?

As a business person, are you aware of the benefits of sponsorship?

Most businesses know they need to advertise in some way and have a budget for that purpose. It is easy to think of advertising as a simple explanation of goods or services and an invitation to prospective customers to buy in. But, there is another interesting level of advertising that has great potential to raise awareness and good will – it is sponsorship.

In every area of business or service there are “movers and shakers”, innovators, leaders, and examples of the best in their field. In most of these areas there are organizations in place to recognize the accomplishments of these people and teams of workers. This recognition often takes the form of an annual awards celebration that needs sponsorship. If your business is in a related field, there is no better place to get your name and brand in front of interested people. In cases like this, advertising dollars can serve your business and, in addition, serve the industry and the public by encouraging excellence.

A good example of this would be the annual Organic Trade Association’s Annual Awards Celebration, a peer generated awards program for outstanding accomplishment in the organic foods market. You can check out their website for 2017 here and see their statements encouraging and soliciting sponsorship.

Can’t find an organization that matches your business niche? Well then, look for any event that draws a crowd. Many communities have local celebrations that need sponsorship. They can be sporting events like baseball games or “mud runs” that benefit a cause, or events that highlight a characteristic of a community like the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, Florida or the American Birkiebeiner in Hayward, Wisconsin. Add sponsorship to these events and you are adding to the success of the whole community. The good will generated will serve everyone.

Sponsorship is a good way to enter the culture of recognition, good for your business and good for those people and events in your community that deserve recognition. What might you sponsor this coming month or year?

 

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Helping Those at Risk

Helping Those at Risk

Another school year is soon to end. With 83% of our high school students completing their studies, according to statistics from government websites, chances are you know someone who is celebrating graduation. Graduation is a time to honor those who have put in the hard work of learning, the hard work of teaching and the hard work of mentoring. Without those elements the picture becomes altogether different.

 For some, the hard work of learning is harder than for others. Some young people come to school having not slept well the night before. Some have had little or nothing to eat in the morning. Some have been caring for siblings and doing housework instead of their homework. Some do not have clean clothes to wear. All of these conditions stand in the way of learning.

 There are children whose schools are overcrowded, whose teachers are stressed and overworked. They may not have adequate funds to supply their classroom. And sometimes they have lost their passion for the job and just aren’t good teachers. They may have been put in positions for which they were not prepared.

 These students may not have a parent or a friend they can rely on to encourage and support them in learning. The people in their lives may be abusive, struggling with addictions, and at risk themselves. Their peers become their mentors, and the pull may very well be away from school, not toward it. For these “would be” students graduation is not a celebration but a painful reminder of missing the mark.

 Picking up the pieces are much needed continuation schools, “at risk” schools and alternative education programs. Short on government funding, they are sometimes funded and organized by community and business interests that care about that 17% of students who otherwise would have no chance to complete an education. Do you see yourself fitting anywhere in that picture? Is there a student that you could encourage or mentor? Do you know the graduation rate of your state? (Click HERE for that information.) How about your local school?

   Black Rock Continuation High School  is a model school in the Mojave desert of California.   This school was featured in an award winning documentary film and was aired on PBS in several episodes of “The Bad Kids”. Check out what these dedicated professionals do for their “at risk” kids.

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Hi, Mom!

Hi, Mom!

On Tuesday, May 9th, we all had an opportunity to think about the teachers that inspired us, motivated us and prepared us to become who we are today. How wonderfully natural it is for that to be followed this weekend by Mother’s Day. Motherhood, whether a function of biology or adoption, is the mandate to become a “first teacher” for another person. What an awesome responsibility to be “the first”!

 Becoming prepared for that responsibility is a function of learning. In thinking on this subject, I started to write that how a person “mothers” is not an automatic process. For many, motherhood happens before they have thought much about what it entails. Our society/culture doesn’t put much time into formally educating young people to be parents. But the truth is, before anyone is formally taught, we all learn a lot from experience.  Most of us learn our most indelible lessons on mothering from our own mothers. For good or not, that learning is quite automatic. 

Knowing this can lead to the interesting exercise of examining. By asking the questions “What valuable things did I learn from my mother?” and “What valuable things do I want to pass on to the next generation of mothers?” we might make better parenting decisions, we might teach a better family culture, we might strengthen our society in ways we don’t realize.

Is all this examination worth it? Yes. Yes. Every small thing that leads us to think and consider is worth doing – like celebrating Mother’s Day. What a great time to encourage a mother who is tired, insecure in her skills, struggling in one of the many ways mothers struggle. Recognizing women who love well, ensures that they will be able to pass that skill on to others. Who will you encourage and affirm this Mother’s Day?

 

And can you tell us HOW you encouraged a mother? We all need ideas…

 

 

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It's National Volunteer Week!

It's National Volunteer Week!

A volunteer is one who serves or offers services of his/her own free will, often without any expectation of payment or reward. Although much is accomplished in the world through gainful employment, there is a great need for volunteerism to see and fill in some important gaps. The hard truth is that financial gain is not attached to every needed job. Fortunately, it’s also true that all rewards for service are not financial.

 April 23 – 29, 2017 is National Volunteer Week celebrating the power of volunteerism to strengthen communities. How does volunteering strengthen a community? This year’s theme, Service Unites,  suggests that it does it by uniting people (and what a great year to focus on anything that unites!)

Points of Light is the largest organization in the world devoted to volunteer service. It’s not always easy to determine the value of volunteer services but since 1974 when Points of Light was instituted there have been statistics available that tell about the scope and magnitude of volunteerism, statistics such as these for last year:

  • 64 million volunteers
  • 300,000 projects
  • In 30 countries
  • 30 million hours of service logged
  • $635 million annual worth of volunteer hours

Why not join an army of volunteers this week to strengthen your own community? There are many opportunities, something to fit anyone’s skill set, if you know where to look for them. The website www.allforgood.org lists volunteer projects in many major cities. If you want to get a visual of this volunteer army and see the reasons that inspire them to serve, check out this link, Points of Light. You can even download the small form and write your own reason for service, take a picture and add yourself to the army!

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Learning Through Sports

Learning Through Sports

The recent addition of Sports Plaques to the Apple Awards family and all the wonderful sports memories contributed by readers on Facebook leads us to think about the valuable role of life lessons learned through sports.

Our society puts a lot of emphasis on sports.  Just look at March Madness and how many places it pops up in our world – everyplace from work to worship (yes, it was mentioned at church and the focus of a fun event). There may be a reader or two (and yes, I was one of them) who don’t know much about March Madness. It is one of the highlights of the year for spectators and players alike, when college basketball teams compete for the NCAA championship.

While we at Apple Awards want to acknowledge that sports are not the focus of life for most people, they are important because they mirror other aspects of our lives – our work and our families. It is in sports programs that physical skills are honed, but more importantly, skills of leadership and cooperation are also taught and recognized.  What do we learn?

We learn that morale starts with leadership. Team sports like basketball, football, soccer and others show us that coaches and team captains set the tone and players respond. Even in the face of difficulties, leadership can change the direction of a team, a company, or a family by focusing on true priorities and reminding of basic values learned. 

We learn that attitude is EVERYTHING, well, almost. Skill plus positive attitude is an unbeatable force when it comes to success. Sports experiences can teach that the ups and downs of life are better weathered if attitudes remain positive. Positive attitude is a contagious condition and will spread to those around you so cultivate it and share it!

We learn that skills need development. Nobody is born knowing how to play basketball and nobody is born knowing how to complete business tasks or participate in family life. Time, patience and repetition go into learning many skills, enabling us to complete our tasks. We learn that we feel valued when others take time to help us develop our abilities. We are informed of our talents and encouraged!

Sports teach us that we must assess our progress. We must evaluate and make changes in our strategies and approaches from time to time.

Probably of greatest importance, we can learn from our sports experiences that we each have something to contribute, that we can be responsible and reliable, and that we can appreciate and respect others for their contributions. Pretty basic stuff, right?

I hope you enjoyed March Madness, no matter which team won!  

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Recognition: Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Recognition: Inquiring Minds Want to Know

“Did you see on the company bulletin board? Jim is on the committee for setting up the recognition program. I want to talk to him about the kind of awards that would really help me.”

 “Yes, I saw that. Megan should get the first recognition. She stayed two hours last night helping me put together a presentation. I wonder how I can nominate her?”

 “I’ve heard some other companies are offering flex scheduling and work from home opportunities. How I could get on that committee and help get that for us?”

 “Are we going to get more information on this at the staff meeting tomorrow? It sounds really interesting.”

 

These are questions that could be floating around after the implementation of a recognition program in your business or institution. The success of your program will depend on getting your workforce on board and informed.  There has to be communication, a steady flow of input to your newly formed committee and a regular flow of information out to employees.  In the last post we read about your committee, that carefully chosen group, your working foundation of people who: 

     -Communicate well with all levels of the company

     -Represent different levels of supervision, as well as management

     -Come from as wide a variety of workers as possible

     -Are excited and on board with recognition efforts

     -Know the goals and vision of the company

 

One of their first jobs will be to inform, inform, inform.  The more information people have, and the more often they hear about the program, the more enthusiasm will build. Make use of emails, bulletin boards, flyers and announcement time in team meetings. To start, employees will need to know:            

     -Who is on the committee

     -How the committee was chosen, and how often it will be changed

     -What the committee will be asking of them

     -How to communicate with committee members – the process

     -What recognition or incentives will be given

     -How they can qualify for recognition

 

Employees who know what to expect and how to participate are, well…  they are going to have FUN and be enthusiastic. They will know what the company values and how they can add to the culture in a meaningful way.  That is exactly how you want your recognition program to function.  Put it out there. Talk it up. Spread the word. Inform, inform, inform. 

 Although being paid well for work done might come first, many people put being recognized and valued as their second priority when it comes to job satisfaction.  Companies that meet this need are where people want to work, so make use of the drawing effect of a good recognition program.

 

 

 

 

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Need to Start a Recognition Program?

Need to Start a Recognition Program?

Celebrate Your Employees!

 National Employee Appreciation Day is Friday, March 3rd! What better way to tell employees that they are appreciated than to have a recognition program in place for your business. Are you thinking your business is too small? Are you thinking it’s too big? Not true. There are a few basic things to keep in mind whether you are setting up a program to serve 20 or 1,020.

 Get your motives in line!   Recognition is becoming an important factor in retaining a productive and satisfied workforce, but employees like to know that there is a genuine interest in their safety, their general welfare and their happiness at their job – it’s not just about the bottom line profit.  Fortunately, a good recognition program will benefit everyone. A recent Gallup research poll showed that as employee satisfaction increases so does employee engagement and productivity, employee turnover decreases, customer satisfaction increases, and even data concerning job safety shows improvement. These are all good reasons for a carefully crafted program that matches the needs of your business.

 Grab some helpers!  Your program will need a lot of input from everyone, managers and employees at all levels. Form a committee that will help you with start-up and continuation of your program.  Having representation from different areas will provide good communication and fairness in your recognition efforts.

 Gather relevant information!  Put your committee to work. Guidelines for recognition need to be spelled out clearly so all employees understand what behaviors and achievements the company values. You and your committee also need to determine what rewards are meaningful to employees and how and when recognition will be practiced.  Why not start with a fun survey?

 You’ve gotten your program underway with the above steps. Check in on our next post to get some tips on implementation of your program.  

 

 

 

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Warm Chair Attrition?

Warm Chair Attrition?

It’s a world of computers and internet access, at home and at work. The temptation is there to take that quick Facebook break, maybe even during work hours?

Lately it doesn’t seem to matter if you reduce effort a little, like your coworkers gossiping in the coffee room. You need some coffee, right?

There were several people missing in the last project meeting. It was kind of hard to get anything done. You wonder if it’s worth going to the next one…

Have you had experience with any of these situations? If so, you are in danger of coming down with warm chair attrition. You and your workplace need some recognition therapy.

Recognition therapy starts with paying attention to what is happening around you. What are the behaviors that make your job, your business, your workplace, successful and a great place to work? How might those behaviors be encouraged? Research shows that behavior that is noticed and positively reinforced is likely to be repeated. Employers, this is why having a recognition program in the workplace is becoming an effective motivator and a way to communicate appreciation. Employees, a recognition program can help you focus on specific tasks and behaviors that make being on the job happier and more productive.

Need help developing a recognition program for your workplace? Check our next blog post for some timely ideas.

 

 

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Personal, Public, Permanent

Personal, Public, Permanent

I’m talking to you, the person reading this. You are a great reader! You have sought out something new to learn and are exercising your mind. You have already risen above the average by taking time out of your day to read, an activity most people DON’T DO. I’m going to recognize you and your unusual dedication to intellectual growth by presenting you with a beautiful award, a lasting reminder of this time,  naming you and your accomplishment, and we’re going to do it in public where others will see that I value your effort!

 No, sorry, I’m not really going to do that, but wasn’t it starting to feel good? It’s true that a lot of people don’t read, and you do. I noticed and told you so. Research bears out that the power of recognition will accomplish several things. It will increase the likelihood of you reading again. It will show others that this kind of activity is valued. It will increase the likelihood of others reading and following your example.  

 Now, apply the same principles to any group of professionals whose performance matters greatly to you – those teachers trusted with the education of your children, those medical specialists taking care of your health, those employees working in your business. Notice what they do, name what you value, make it personal, public and permanent. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s good business!

 Coming  up next time: have you hear the term “warm chair attrition”? If it sounds like a new disease to watch out for, you are right!

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A Powerful Moment

A Powerful Moment

We all witnessed it last week. As Vice-President Joe Biden had the Presidential Medal of Freedom hung around his neck, he was overcome with emotion. It was a stunningly satisfying moment for our country when we saw a humble, deserving servant receive a physical symbol of appreciation. As Joe Biden put it “it came from his heart” (the President) and that gave it great meaning to him.  A physical symbol has great power to express what words alone may not always convey.

 Given its power to influence, what should we keep in mind about recognition? Foremost is the fact that recognition defines behavior that we appreciate and want to see repeated. In the workplace, it is a motivator high on the list, along with salary and job security. Recognition bolsters self-esteem and job satisfaction because it is tangible proof that work has been noticed and appreciated. Just as valuable in other areas of life, personal recognition given to family and friends goes a long way in building relationships and encouraging people who are important to us. 

Similar to the detailed and finely crafted Presidential Medal of Freedom, the awards produced at Apple Awards are of quality materials, made to last, and can be specifically personalized to convey those messages of appreciation. Whether in the business world or other professional arena, the power of recognition is available to all and has well documented positive results. How will you use that power, maybe even today, in your company, your workplace, your family?

 

 

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Make It New!

Make It New!

There’s not a big difference between December 31st of any given year and the January 1st that follows and yet there is something in us that wants to recognize a chance to make things new. New is exciting! We want to be reminded that we can re-organize, we can commit again to that exercise program, we can promise to read more and watch TV less, we can aspire to be a better person in some way. And what about work, that part of our life that gets a major portion of our time? In 2017, what newness is waiting for you in the work world?

In considering this question, it doesn’t matter whether you are president, CEO, manager, team member or a self-employed company of one. It doesn’t matter if you are a new hire or a multi-year veteran. Everyone can do something toward a fresh start. Examining your ability to bring new ideas and attitudes to the workplace can make all the difference in job satisfaction for yourself and others. In the posts this month I want to suggest some thoughts for the new year.

#1 Review your reasons for working.

Is a paycheck coming at regular intervals your reason for clocking in every day? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to love work, making it worth your time in more existential ways?  Even the most routine or seemingly unimportant work can be done in a way that communicates important values like integrity, patience, timeliness, loyalty or even FUN. Here is a challenge for you from writer and workplace trainer Catherine M. Mattice. If you had to make a 20 second video about how you live out the values of your workplace, could you do it? Could you name those values? Being able to identify workplace values is the first step in applying those values to each daily task.  That conscious application can give new perspective to routine activities. For example, if great customer service means a lot to your company, the routine filing of customer records, instead of boring you, can be viewed as a challenge because it is very important the next time that record is needed. 

 #2 Review your growth goals.

Never stop growing – of course I’m talking about wisdom, intellect, and skills, not pant size. Growing is the process of bringing in the new. Learn something new by reading a book related to your job description or searching online for free articles on a relevant subject. Ask coworkers for ideas that have interested them. If time permits, volunteer to work in a completely different environment doing something you’ve never done before. Perhaps there are opportunities at your workplace to “shadow” or work with a mentor in a related department. I’m helping my daughter with a new diet and am learning a wealth of information to write and talk about. In addition to helping me as a writer and a health educator, it’s given me a different direction in my own eating lifestyle. I’m growing and it gives me a mental boost that is empowering.

 #3 Review your relationships.

Especially at work, relationships can make or break our happiness and desire to contribute. It takes time and effort to build good relationships with coworkers. Are there coworkers that you would like to know better, or how about the one that annoys you? Make a list and arrange to have a work break or lunch with them and talk. Being approachable, appreciative, and aware of opportunities for interaction can add to your own sense of satisfaction with the workplace as well as encouraging others to do the same. People who like each other, or at least understand each other, work better together, give appropriate feedback to each other and accomplish more.  Having a team spirit at work makes it less likely that bullying and aggressively competitive behavior will occur.  

 At Apple Awards, we hope that the year ahead has something new for you, whether it be a new job, or a new and fresh attitude toward the job you already have. Enjoy 2017 at your work!

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Making the Friendly Skies Friendlier

Making the Friendly Skies Friendlier

Let’s face it. When we travel for the holidays in higher numbers than ever, there are going to be challenges.

AAA projects that 103 million people are in motion this year-end holiday season. Most of them drive, 93.6 million , but 6 million fly. Having just made a journey that took about 12 hours and traversed three airports I am familiar with some of those challenges – cancelled flights, delayed flights, crowded flights, all three on one trip. How easy it is to become impatient and critical and fail to consider the near miraculous travel we experience in this country. Even though this was a difficult trip, the major airline I used has a record of 86% of its flights being on time, the best in the industry.

 A few things to consider:

- What happens to your own schedule when you are too ill to meet obligations? Cancellations have to occur. But, you say, airlines have multiple people to call on. However, the logistics of having those people in the right place at the right time are pretty complex.  I don’t know why my fully booked flight was cancelled but I’m sure the airline considered the effect on that many people and weighted their decision accordingly.

 - What happens when equipment suddenly does not work or is unsafe? AAA recorded 320 million rescues in 2015 for motorists with dead batteries, empty fuel tanks and other happenings. That number has gone up this year. For an airline, it’s always a challenge to handle an unexpected repair, or an extra fuel stop, but aren’t we glad that they do? A plane and crew that had just flown from Paris, France and experienced that extra fuel stop making them 2 hours behind schedule, took me to Seattle last night. I heard a lot of complaints, but knowing the back story really gave me compassion for those giving service under an adverse situation.

 -What happens when a weather event suddenly creates a crisis situation in your travel plan? I think of motorists stranded on highways for extended periods of time, of accidents caused by slippery roads or low visibility. When there is no one who is responsible or to blame for these scenarios, all we are left with is the ability to control our own reactions and to help others if we can. 

 If you find yourself traveling this holiday, whether on the highway, in the air, or on the rail you will probably have an opportunity to exercise compassion and practice gratitude. In this day of common rudeness, “road rage” and other extreme and dangerous behaviors, isn’t it a relief to be treated with kindness and grace when traveling? Apple Awards stands behind the culture of kindness this season, encouraging us all to be thankful and gracious to those who travel with us and those who serve us in the travel industries.

 Statistics from www.newsroom.aaa.com/category/travel and www.forbes.com/sites/grantmartin/2016/11/14/the-best-and-worst-airlines-for-holiday-travel-2016/#475cab982c9d

 

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Christmas Wisdom

Christmas Wisdom

December has a holiday that is celebrated around the world – Christmas. Christmas is all about recognition. Maybe you have a box full of cards and letters that were received at Christmas the year before so that you can remember to recognize the thoughtfulness of people who greeted you. Maybe you have a list of people who you intend to recognize with a gift. These customs are so common that many are tempted to think that Christmas is a marketing scheme to sell everything from cards, trees, decorations, candy, and jewelry to… well, everything. It’s all about putting businesses “in the black” (Black Friday) and sometimes ends up putting people in debt and depression.

 Want to put some love and kindness, along with recognition into your Christmas customs?  Let’s go back to the origin of this giving and see if the Christmas spirit has anything to do with marketing…

 The story is found in the Bible, the book written by Matthew and it goes like this…

 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory – this was during Herod’s kingship – a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on a pilgrimage to worship him.”

 When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified – and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religious scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

 They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

                ‘It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear.

                From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.’ “

 Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”

 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

 They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they knelt and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

 In a dream they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.  (from the Message Bible)

Tradition has added details to this story that may or may not be accurate. We don’t know if these visitors were kings or even if there were three of them. They arrived after the birth of Jesus and came from a distance so they didn’t find him in a stable. But they found him and they recognized him as a king with gifts that were valuable and designed for royalty.  For more of the legends surrounding these scholars visit www.whychristmas.com/story/wisemen.shtml  A good explanation of the spiritual side of the story can be found here www.bible.org/seriespage/3-visit-wise-men-matthew-21-12

 These travelers went to a great deal of trouble to recognize Jesus as a king. Time, effort and cost were evidenced in their travel and the gifts they gave, and we can use their example to recognize others in meaningful ways.

 Give with the right motive, not out of seasonal obligation.

Give with intent and thoughtfulness, as evidence that you value the recipient.

Give the best you can give. 

Give the gift of time, and presence – not only material things.

Give with excitement and enjoyment.

 Following these suggestions might result in doing less shopping but you might find that you have a more peaceful holiday that way. Maybe that’s why those original visitors were called “wise men”. What do you think?

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Caregiving: Caring Enough to Give

Caregiving: Caring Enough to Give

“A 2015 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the American Association of Retired Persons revealed an estimated 39.8 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or child.” (from Healthy Living, November/December 2016 p.6)

 Does this strike a chord for you? Have you been a caregiver or a recipient of care? If so you are part of a growing sector of the population getting a lot of attention, but needing even more. It is estimated that 90% of long term care is provided by unpaid caregivers, amounting to $375 billion in value. Most of this care is provided by a family member.

 Who is this typical caregiver? Statistically, she is a woman, although about 40% are male. She has some college experience and is probably still working a job in addition to caregiving. She spends over 20 hours per week helping her Mom.  She is not a medical professional but may have been trained to do complex tasks like injections, colostomy care, and tube feedings. She commonly helps with activities of daily living, meal preparation, housework, shopping and errands. She coordinates medical appointments. 

Caregiving is a job with high demands physically, emotionally and financially.  Physically, 67% of caregivers say they put off going to the doctor themselves, putting their families’ needs ahead of their own. Fifty one percent feel they do not have time to take care of themselves and forty nine percent are too tired. Emotionally, 47 – 70% have clinically significant signs of depression. Financially, 47% of working caregivers say they have used up all or most of their savings, 41% work fewer hours than they would ordinarily, 30% take leave to give care and 11% quit their jobs. Half of those who quit say that their employers were not flexible enough to allow them to give the needed care.

A 2004 report estimated that 21% of households in the U.S. were affected by the need for caregiving, although that number has increased heavily with an aging population. I have had short term experience giving care to my mother but have watched other families deal with much more. My cousin helped care for her mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A few years later she cared for her youngest daughter as she underwent major surgery and treatment for breast cancer. Several years later she cared for her older daughter who also had cancer and died during treatment. Now my cousin is caring for her sister who has cancer.  She has carried a heavier load than the typical caregiver. She and her family are definitely examples of those who care enough to give.

 November is National Family Caregivers month. About half of caregivers receive some help from another family member but a third of them get no help at all. Chances are you know one of these people. This is a great time to reach out to support and encourage someone you know, in your family or community, who is giving of their time and energy.  Let them know they are appreciated.

 For more information on this topic visit:

www.nextavenue.org/who-americas-caregivers-are-and-why-it matters/

www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/facts.htm

www.caregiveraction.org/resources/caregiver-statistics

 

 

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