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Topic: Culture

Employee appreciation in a crisis with guest Natalie Snyder

season 3, episode 5

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Welcome to The Work Place, where we talk about the cultures we work in, and how to make them better for everyone. I’m Andrew Scarcella.

This episode, we’re talking with Natalie Snyder from GE Appliances about using times of great change as opportunities to grow—as a company, a culture, and as individuals. And how recognition plays a key role in connecting all three together into something bigger.

Join us after the interview for Tangible Takeaways, where we’ll talk about the ideas and actions we can take with us and implement our own workplace cultures.

Natalie Snyder is the Senior Director of Compensation and Benefits at GE Appliances (a Haier Company). Natalie’s background is in psychology, but she’s made her career in the HR world, solving people problems and shaping a workplace culture that’s resilient, adaptable, and always moving towards a clear north star.

Natalie Snyder was interviewed by me, and I think this conversation might be the most timely one we’ve ever had on The Work Place. With Employee Appreciation Day coming up in just a few days, to get to talk to an HR leader like Natalie about how she approaches employee recognition—both during the pandemic and looking forward to whatever the after-times are like—is invaluable. It’s exactly the kind of candid conversation we all need to hear right now as we struggle and succeed to shape a resilient, thriving culture amidst all the uncertainty. Let’s get to it.

TANGIBLE TAKEAWAYS

Now it’s time for Tangible Takeaways, where we take big ideas back 93 million years to the late Cretaceous, when forests extended pole to pole and herds of hadrosaurs, ankylosaurs, sauropods, ceratopsians, and other assorted veggiesauruses roamed the lush, tropical landscape, feasting on ancient magnolias, sassafras, redwoods, willows, and ferns—all the while, being silently stalked by apex predators—abelisaurus, carcharodontosaurus, spinosaurus, tyrannosaurus, or the deadly, but tragically blind, doyouthinkyousaurus.

1. The first is that, more than anything, personalisation is what makes recognition meaningful. Because even though it’s often filtered through corporate policy, recognition is a personal process. It’s the words of appreciation, expressed from one colleague to another as only they can that makes the biggest impact on people. The reward—the points or whatever you end up getting with them—also has an impact. It’s a tangible reminder of your work making a difference. But it’s those idiosyncratic expressions of gratitude, often studded with inside jokes or hyper-specific references only the recipient would get that really stick with people. And over time, come to define your company’s culture. So take an extra minute or two when you’re sending recognition, whether it’s a formal award nomination or just a quick message of thanks, and talk just to them—they’ll notice, and you’ll have made a difference. All for an extra minute of work.

2. The second is that this is the year of employee appreciation. Because last year, employees everywhere faced the unimaginable and kept working, kept innovating, kept doing what they had to for themselves and their companies to survive. It’s something we never thought we’d have to ask of our people. But they all stepped up and did extraordinary things. They figured out how to make working from home work, and how to make working from work safe. They weathered a global crisis full of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. And it’s not over yet. So let’s do something extraordinary in return. Let’s thank them all. So go big for Employee Appreciation Day, but don’t stop there. Keep thinking of ways to express gratitude and reward your people for their unprecedented efforts, all year long. They don’t deserve it, they earned it.

3. The third is that there’s one question that, in hindsight, I wish I had asked Natalie. Why does every new appliance have it’s own theme song to signal that your clothes are dry, or your toast is done, or your milk is appropriately frothed? Was there some focus group in 2018 that was just MAD for musical notifications? Or perhaps an OPEC-level act of collusion between all the appliance manufacturers? The truth is out there.

As always, this episode was written by yours truly—with original music and sound design by Daniel Foster Smith.

The Work Place is sponsored by O.C. Tanner, the global leader in engaging workplace cultures. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud™ provides a single, modular suite of apps for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, wellbeing, leadership, and more.

If you want your organisation to become a place where people can’t wait to come to work in the morning, go to octanner.com/in/.

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