Cheerful international colleagues eating take away food in office during lunch break
ATD Blog

Inclusive Leadership in the Age of Uncertainty

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

People thrive on positive reinforcement—nothing feels better than receiving a compliment for a job well done.

What about those little day-to-day tasks that keep things flowing smoothly, though? Those are often forgotten in the shuffle, but the reality is these deserve acknowledgement just as much as the big accomplishments.

Well, what does this have to do with anything?

Tell people you appreciate them and mean it.Your job for the rest of 2022 is to get into the habit of showing appreciation (authentically) to your co-workers. This will require you to actively seek out things that they are doing well. If your assistant does a stellar job, tell them so! Did your boss nail that difficult negotiation? Let them know it was awesome!

Do you work remotely or have perhaps the toughest job of all as a stay-at-home parent?


No problem! Show gratitude for brief interactions, too. These verbal reinforcements not only give people a little boost they may have needed, but you will actively be showing your gratitude for a job well done, whatever that may be.

Make showing appreciation a habit.When you get in the habit of acknowledging these positive acts, you will find that you feel better about your life and how full it is rather than focusing on the things you don’t have. There’s something to be said for the power of positive thoughts and actions.


Try to show your gratitude toward your co-workers at least two or three times a week. After a week, you’ll find you’re doing it more and more without even thinking about it.

That’s the power of gratitude. It’s self-perpetuating. It’s an acquired taste but one that they will get used to too.

Be spontaneous and have a little fun.Everyone wants to have fun at work—even though everyone defines fun a little differently. Fun happens when people feel well-connected with a team where there’s mutual respect, open communication, acceptance of who people are, and where everyone’s collaborating and working toward the same goal. When teams are working well together, it’s easier to be spontaneous and have some fun—whether it’s a last-minute, football-Friday party after a project launch or a brief pause in the afternoon to tell stories and have a few laughs over topics that have nothing to do with work.

Sometimes we all need a break from the seriousness of business. Here are some ways to show your employees how much you care.

  • Boss for the day: Let an employee be the boss for the day, and encourage them to proclaim a jeans day, hold a potluck, or make a speech at a team meeting.
  • Lunch with the boss: Take your employees out to lunch and let them choose the location. Do your best to keep work-related discussions to a minimum. Take this time to get to know more about your employees’ interests and hobbies beyond their work lives.
  • Impromptu time off: Spontaneous late arrival or early departure days are always motivating. For example, send a quick email that says, “It’s a beautiful afternoon. Go enjoy it.”
  • Time off coupons: Give out coupons for 15 minutes of time off as an on-the-spot award. Allow your employees to collect them, so they can leave an hour early or come in late one day.
  • Work-from-home day: Remember significant events in your employees’ personal lives, such as a child starting kindergarten; give them a work-from-home day, so they can participate without worrying about coming into the office on time.
  • Indoor food truck: When you are back in the office, have the leadership team go around the office on a hot day with a cart handing out ice cream (like Klondike bars or ice cream sandwiches). On a cold day, have them push around a “cocoa cart” to serve hot chocolate to the team.
  • Cookies for a cause: For an employee who’s an active volunteer, have specially shaped cookies made and delivered with a thank you card. The shapes should reflect the cause the employee cares about. For instance, if the employee volunteers with military veterans, the cookies might be in the shapes of stars and flags.
  • Winter fun in the office: Put on a season of “summer fun” from Valentine’s Day to Memorial Day and give away a sleep-in day, a long lunch, or an early release. Select winners each week, and make sure everyone wins something twice per summer.
About the Author

Devin C. Hughes is an author, speaker, consultant, executive coach, and an internationally recognized expert in the science of happiness, organizational/culture change and leadership development. He has lectured and worked with a variety of Fortune 100 companies, as well as the Secret Service, the IRS, and an assortment of profit and nonprofit organizations. Devin is the author of 20 books and has lectured in more than 15 countries. He lives in San Diego, California, with his wife, four daughters, and two rescue dogs.

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Gamification provides an informal environment for learners to work out real-life situations in a safe environment. This helps to increase the quality of the learning experience and leads to better knowledge retention. benefit
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