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Sending a handwritten note of appreciation

The lost art of appreciating others

During my time spent as an HR Executive, I committed to writing handwritten notes to employees and sending those notes to their homes. This was something introduced by a healthcare best practice organization. In my fourteen years at this organization, I had never received more recognition and gratitude in return for this simple practice over any other recognition initiative or event we had introduced. Employees would stop me in the halls or send me a note to thank me for sending the note to them!

There were many reasons to send notes, such as receiving feedback from others for outstanding work or a milestone work anniversary, and I always counted it a privilege to send a note of appreciation.

While it took some extra time, I enjoyed gathering a stack of note cards and my favorite pen and personalizing a handwritten message.

To follow are a few reasons why this was so effective and why all leaders should consider this practice:

1.       Sending the note to the employee’s home lets family members and loved ones share in the appreciation and recognition, which is different than receiving the note through interoffice mail. I am certain these notes made their way to scrapbooks or were hanging on refrigerators with magnets for all to see.

2.       Taking the time to personalize and write a note makes it stand out and adds a level of importance. It shows your leadership commitment to employee recognition. Think of all the mail received at home, mostly bills, and how a handwritten note would get attention.

3.       With all of the quick communication we send and receive, such as emails and texts, a handwritten note can be viewed as more meaningful. The employee might think: “My very busy manager or leader took time out of her day to write me a handwritten note?”

4.       Leaders that commit to regular and purposeful recognition are likely to be more respected and inspire higher levels of engagement with their teams or their organization. It seems like a small thing, but it can make a big difference.

5. An extra step that I took was to scan the note and send a copy to the employee’s manager, so that the recognition could be shared and perhaps mentioned in a performance review, particularly for those notes related to great work and excellent workplace behaviors that supported the organization’s culture.

So, grab a pen and a stack of thank you cards and give it a try. I am certain you will get the same rewards that I did in return.

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