Let’s Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day!

Everyone likes to feel appreciated for his or her contributions at work. Have you been making it a point to show gratitude to your employees recently? Observed on the first Friday in March each year, which happens to be today, is Employee Appreciation Day! Take some time today to participate.

Let us count the ways:

1. Organize a Recognition Ceremony
Have a ceremony to recognize the accomplishments of your coworkers. Whether it is their work anniversary year, great customer interactions, or meeting sales goals, your employees will enjoy being recognized for their accomplishments.

2. Have a Food Day
Order out for lunch, have a breakfast buffet, or bring in some baked goods. Whatever you choose, employees will enjoy free food and a reason to hang out in the break room.

3. Provide Professional Development
Become a mentor or provide training opportunities for your employees. Allow them to develop within their careers.Employee Appreciation Day

4. Send Thank You Notes
Create personalized thank you notes to recognize your employees. Take the opportunity to show your coworkers that you care about their work and accomplishments.

5. Small Gifts
This one depends on your company’s gift policy, so make sure to check with Human Resources before buying any gifts. If HR gives you the go ahead, buy small gifts or gift cards to hand out.

6. Take Time to Listen
Listening to your employees is one of the keys to great communication. In this case, listening does not mean only paying attention to work-related conversations. Take time to listen to your employees all the time. What do they like to do outside of work? Do you know?

7. Create Opportunity
Show your coworkers that you appreciate them by creating opportunities. Send someone to an important meeting to encourage him to step out of his comfort zone.

8. Extra Time Off
Surprise your office by sending everyone home early. If that won’t work, give out some PTO or vacation time. This will allow your coworkers to rest, relax, and be ready continue their great work.

9. Give Away Apparel
Giving away shirts, polos, sweatshirts, or blankets with company branding makes a great employee appreciation gift, boosts morale, and serves as a marketing tool. What more could you want?

10. Keep It Up
Don’t wait for Employee Appreciation Day to recognize your coworkers. Find ways to show your gratitude throughout the year.

How are you going to show appreciation to your employees this year? Share in the comments below!

14 Ways to Express Love for Your Job This Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! While everyone is discussing ways to show love for their friends, families and significant others. We are going to give you 14 ways to express love for your job.hearts-937664_960_720

1. Learn about Your Coworkers
Instead of always covering the same topics like weather and sports, take time to learn about your coworkers’ hobbies and interests outside of work.

2. Food
Show your workplace or department some love by stopping for bagels or donuts. Even better, if you like to bake, your coworkers will appreciate some homemade baked goods.

3. Referrals
A company’s best new hires are usually referred to the organization by its current employees. Do you have a friend who is looking for a change? Refer them to your company.

4. Participate
Does your office have holiday parties, happy hours, or birthday celebrations? If so, show appreciation to your workplace and coworkers by participating as often as possible.

5. Decorate
Add your personal style to your workspace. This helps to both make you comfortable and spark conversation.

6. Say Thank You
A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way. Whether it is an email, Post-It, or even a more elaborate card, be sure to say ‘thank you’ to those coworkers who choose to help you out during the workday.
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7. Mentor
Take time to share your knowledge with those around you. There is nothing more valuable to a new employee than a trustworthy mentor.

8. Volunteer
Does your workplace sponsor volunteer activities? If so, volunteering is a great way to help your community, while showing appreciation for your workplace.

9. Give Compliments
If you like a coworker’s outfit, tell him or her! Do you like something management has changed, let them know! Compliments can spark conversation and help create a cohesive environment.

10. Be Optimistic
Even if you do not LOVE something about your job, don’t be negative about it. Optimism and critical thinking will help solve problems in the office.

11. Collaborate
Teamwork is something we all get tired of hearing at work. However, collaboration is one of the best ways to show love for your job.

12. Gratitude Board
Inspire your company or department to create a gratitude board. A gratitude board is a space where everyone can participate in leaving notes of gratitude for the office, management, coworkers, or customers.

love-903178_960_72013. Be Present
Some days you may be just going through the motions at work. Make it a point to be present throughout the day. You will do a better job if you are sure to stay mindful.

14. Be Genuine

No matter the way you choose to show love and gratitude at your job, be sure that it is genuinely how you feel.

 

Do you have any other ways to show love for your job this Valentine’s Day? Leave them in the comments below!

Health and Wellness: Super Bowl Recipes, Tips, and a Workout!

super bowl atlanta falconsAre you ready for some football? Although our Pittsburgh Steelers will not be playing this weekend, many of us will be attending or hosting a Super Bowl party for the food, commercials, and Lady Gaga! Here at ABG Capital, we are not quite ready to give up our healthy New Year’s Resolutions for the big game. As an organization, we focus on creating a culture of health and wellness; for example, check out our other healthy blog posts here! Before this weekend’s festivities, we would like to share with you some ways to stick to your resolutions while still having fun.

Let’s start with the food! Here are a few of my favorite healthy party recipes:

Sweet Potato Bites with Bacon and Guacamole

These are a great alternative to the potato skins, chips or fries. They have just the right amount of protein and fat without all the excess starch and carbs. They’re sure to be a hit at your Super Bowl party.

Greek Lemon Chicken Skewers with Tzatziki Sauce

Who doesn’t love chicken on a stick? This recipe packs a lot of flavor while being healthy. They’re also easy to make for a big crowd as they can all be marinated and grilled easily.

If these recipes aren’t enough for your party, check out this list of 20 Healthy Super Bowl recipes from Pinterest!

Another source of calories on game day comes from your drink choices. If you can’t possibly have fun while drinking water, here are some suggestions. If you’d rather keep it simple try to stick with flavored vodka, water, and ice or diet coke and rum.

Lastly, get off the couch! Use this football workout to get your exercise during the game!

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Do you have a favorite game day recipe or cocktail? Will you be trying to lighten them up? If so, share your suggestions in the comments.

Beware the Office Time Wasters!

Look out! This Friday is the first of two Friday the Thirteenth’s the year. The second is in October (because that’s not ominous or anything). Many people get wrapped up in the superstitions on days like these and are throwing salt over their shoulders left and right. However, there is something we should beware of more than Friday the Thirteenth; office time wasters! You know, those little things that derail your concentration throughout the day–stay away from them! Here are a few superstitions you should be mindful of on Friday and every day so you steer clear of bad luck and office time wasters.

img_0027Don’t let a black cat cross your path: I love animals, especially if they are fuzzy, but superstitions say that if a black cat crosses your path on Friday the 13th that’s bad juju. I think black cats get a bad rap (Thackeray Binx was a pretty sweet and helpful black cat); but watching cute kitty videos that are ubiquitous online can be a major time waster. Resist the urge to get sucked deep into the void that can be YouTube videos while at work. Don’t open that silly text, or email titled “I haz hamburger.” Save that for weekends when it is below zero outside and you can snuggle under blankets and binge all you want.

Don’t break any mirrors: Ever break a mirror? It’s a chore to clean up; those shards can go everywhere. So, this is more a PSA than a superstition I think. But, people think its unlucky nonetheless. To avoid any bad luck try and avoid the bathroom (and the bathroom mirror) at work. Now, I’m not saying not to go when nature calls, but maybe you should avoid that greasy burrito you know will give you bubble gut the rest of the day. By planning healthy lunches you can avoid you running to the bathroom multiple times a day. You also will save time by not running out for said food and have more time to enjoy your lunch break.

Don’t walk under any ladders: I think this is just a common sense rule right? Apparently, this particular fear is linked to an antiquated belief that walking under a ladder is blasphemous; as it is an insult to the Holy Trinity, and means you are in league with devil. Though we don’t believe this these days, it’s just not safe to walk under ladders. In the office try to avoid walking under metaphorical ladders by getting involved in water cooler gossip (the devil of the office). Not only does this distract you from your work, we all know how damaging gossip can be. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be friendly with those you work with, but we all know that one person who always has some “juicy” news about someone in the company. Don’t engage this person; simply smile, exchange pleasantries, and move on. And by no means should you repeat their stories!

Don’t start any new trips: It’s also bad luck to start any new trips on this superstitious day. Though I don’t think traveling on Friday is a bad idea, it can cut into your productivity. Be it wasting time in traffic or in airports, if you can lessen your travel time and concentrate on work more you can get more accomplished. Instead of flying back and forth for meetings try to have them virtually if possible. This will save time, frustration, and money.

There certainly can be many things that distract us during the day and pull us away from our work. What are some the time wasters that trouble your work environment? How do you avoid the temptation? Do you have any superstitions around the work place? What are they and why do you have them? If you are looking for some good ways to avoid distractions in the office check out our previous post “No Interruptions Day” for more tips.

It’s No Interruptions Day!

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The last days of the year are ticking down, soon it will be time to ring in 2017. I bet you’re thinking, “But I still have so much to do in 2016!” and are rushing around to finish up those last few projects. We all have so much on our plates that time just tends to get away from us. Some days we get so distracted we can’t remember what the original project we started on was. If this sounds like you join us in celebrating No Interruptions Day!

No Interruptions Day celebrates the last work day of the year and aims to help us all concentrate and round out the year feeling accomplished, as well as allow us to walk into the office in the new year with a clean slate. This year, No Interruptions Day is Friday, December 30 (unless you work weekends too, by all means, celebrate on the 31st). So let’s take some time to get centered and finish this year out right!

Here are some ways you can celebrate in the office this year:

  • Make it an office-wide event–Get the word out and let the office know about No Interruptions Day. Broadcast it through your company intranet and encourage clients and/or family to take part as well. By making it a group effort you’ll be able to accomplish more. This also lowers the likelihood being distracted by co-workers, family, or others (unless it’s an emergency) as you’ll all be focusing on year-end projects.
  • Turn off your cell phone–Our cell phones go everywhere with us, even to bed. On the 30th (or whatever day you decide to celebrate), leave your phone at home, or shut it off and keep it out of sight. This way you won’t be tempted to check any of your social media accounts or personal texts that tend to derail your focus.
  • Shut your door–If you are lucky enough to have an office door, shut it and place an educational note about No Interruptions Day and how you are celebrating on it. This way others will be less likely to intrude on your “work holiday” and you’ll be able to concentrate better by having the noise of normal office commotion deadened by the door.
  • Noise canceling headphones/Music–Not lucky enough to have an office door? If you are distracted by background noises consider bringing in some noise canceling headphones to help you focus. Are you motivated by music rather than silence? Bring in your headphones and shuffle your favorite playlist. If you are looking for playlists that will help you concentrate check out this list for some inspiration.
  • Make a plan–Much of our day in the office is taken up by replying back and forth to emails or returning phone calls. Try and make a plan to best manage your time and optimize it. Set aside a specific time period when you will check your messages, address them, and then move on to your next project.

We wish you all productive last days of 2016 and hope you have a successful and prosperous 2017. If you are planning on celebrating No Interruptions Day let us know! If you have suggestions on ways to participate share them with us!

A Festivus (at work) for the Rest of Us!

Festivus! A holiday celebration created by Seinfeld writer Daniel O’Keefe, which became a popular culture phenomenon when it was written into a 1997 episode of Seinfeld. Seinfeld fans, as well as, those who have never seen the show celebrate the unofficial holiday annually. Typically celebrated on December 23rd, Festivus is celebrated as an alternative to commercialism and the pressure of the traditional holiday season.

Keep reading to learn about traditional Festivus activities, and how to make them safe for your workplace this year!

festivusFestivus Pole

In contrast to your fully decorated office Christmas tree, a Festivus pole is a plain, unadorned aluminum pole. This is the ultimate symbol of Festivus, with no glitz or glamour. You can buy an official Festivus pole for the office from FestivusPoles.com, or go to your local hardware store and pick up a plain aluminum pole. However, in the anti-commercialism spirit of Festivus try to find an aluminum pole in an office closet or storage room.

Festivus Dinner

The official dish of Festivus is meatloaf! Although meatloaf might not be practical for your office Festivus celebration, why not turn it into a potluck. Ask everyone to contribute by bringing a dish. After all the importance of the meal is to prep for the Feats of Strength!

Airing of Grievances

Now this part of the celebration, although it created many comical TV moments, may not be work friendly for some. A few tips for including this in your work celebration are to remember to keep your grievances light-hearted, try to focus your grievances on celebrities and politicians and most importantly, remember that you need to keep your job!

Feats of Strength

Lastly, the Feats of Strength should follow your meal and Airing of Grievances. Although the traditional Feats of Strength wrestling match isn’t work appropriate, you can choose from some of these suggestions; arm wrestling, thumb wrestling, staring contest or board games.

 

The most important thing to remember when celebrating Festivus in the office is to be safe! We hope that you enjoy your Festivus celebration and have your share of Festivus miracles.

 

 

New Year, New Office: 5 Resolutions for the Workplace

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Looking out my window, the snow has finally begun to fly. In a few weeks, Christmas will be upon us and after that New Years. With the ringing in of 2017, we all want to start fresh. New year, new you, right? What about new year, new office? Here are five office New Year’s resolutions to help get you started with your list.

1. Get and stay organized–If you are anything like me and your desk looks like a tornado hit it, this might be a good idea. I am always digging through piles hoping the document I need hasn’t been thrown away. I can’t imagine how much time I’ve wasted just looking for a Post-it with a phone number I wrote down days ago. By taking the time to organize your desk each evening before you leave and developing a better filing system, you can help save your sanity and save time.

2. Stay Positive–We all have days that try our patience, and sometimes all we want to do is complain. Though venting serves a purpose, it can spiral out of control and create a culture of negativity. This hurts productivity and quality of work. By trying to look at challenges in a different, more positive way it can change your mood and your work. When presented with a challenge instead of outwardly expressing your irritation, take a second to breathe and reform your thoughts.

3. Get Healthy–Many people include a health goal as part of their resolutions so bringing that to the office is only logical. If you have snacks in your desk take inventory and try to remove any bad temptations. Take it a step further and organize a workout challenge group in the office and cheer each other on towards your goal.

4. Give More–There’s something about giving a present to someone or contributing (time or money) to a good cause that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Taking time to give more in the workplace can help build better relationships with your co-workers and create a culture of caring. This can be a two-part resolution, internal and external. Part one: Start by giving more within the office and making small gestures among co-workers. If you know a co-worker is having a bad day, buy him or her a snack to help cheer them up. Part two: Take things outside of the office and volunteer as a group for a non-profit of your choice. For help and ideas on how to do this visit the Tapolci Foundation.

5. Focus on the Mission–The new year is always a great time to evaluate and re-focus your mission, be it organization-wide or just departmental. Getting everyone on board and moving in the right direction will help you conquer the year ahead effectively.

Making New Year’s Resolutions is a tradition. We’d love to know what you have done in the past and what you are planning for in the future. What office resolutions did we miss? Do you have any suggestions on how to successfully keep them?

National Letter Writing Day

Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you actually wrote a letter? Not an e-mail, or a text message, a paper and pen, envelope, and stamp, letter? For most of us the answer is “I don’t remember” or “third grade?” Well it’s time to get that pen and paper out, buy some stamps, and sit down to write because December 7th is National Letter Writing Day!

lettersLetter writing has a very long history; it can be traced back to ancient times in Egypt, India, Rome, and China. Only recently has society begun to correspond in 140 characters or less. Although you might not feel a need to write a letter to your family and friends (because they follow you on Twitter), let’s discuss who would still appreciate receiving a letter…Potential employers!

Writing a thank you letter after an interview is still an important use of the letter. Whether you actually mail the letter or attach it to e-mail in letter format is still hotly debated. The point is that potential employers love to hear words of gratitude from those they’ve interviewed.

Here are some tips when writing thank you letters.

Address the letter to your interviewer

Addressing your interviewer by name will reinforce to the potential employer that you are detail oriented. The best way to make sure you get the name and contact of an interviewer correct is to ask for a business card before leaving the interview.

Reaffirm your interest in the position and company

Let them know that you are still interested after the interview. Include a few highlights from the interview that reaffirm why you’re interested in the position. Make sure to be enthusiastic, but genuine.

Highlight your strengths

Was there something during the interview that made you think, “I would be really good at that?” Make sure the interviewer knows what it is! Tell him again what you would bring to his team, and why you’re a better fit than the other candidates.

In conclusion, don’t “write” sending letters off as an ancient art form, but use them to your advantage to wrap up a great job interview and land your dream job!

5 Ways to Prioritize Your Time During the Holidays

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Thanksgiving is behind us. We all returned to work this week with full stomachs and a growing to-do list. This time of the year always seems like a whirlwind, in the office and at home. If you are like me, you make a list of all the things you need to accomplish before the holidays and the end of the year, all the events you have coming up, and what you still need to run to the store to pick up. As I make this list, I grow anxious, and at times overwhelmed. We’re busy all throughout the year, but there’s something about the holidays and the coming new year that makes it seem even more urgent. How can we make the most of the last month of 2016? Here are five ways you can prioritize your time, fit in all your holiday activities, and make strides in the office as well.

1. Make a List – “He’s making a list and checking it twice…” we all know how the rest of the song goes. Hey, if it works for Santa it should work for us too, right? We all have multiple to-do lists; one for work, another for home, shopping lists, and more. Keeping lists is a great way to organize your thoughts and get a game plan together. I know it’s a simple suggestion but that’s the beauty of it.

2. Keep a Routine – This time of year is all about traditions; try to keep to your routine as much as possible during the day. This will help you stay focused, especially in the work place. Not deviating much from your normal routine will help you be less stressed and able to work more effectively.

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3. Delegate – During this time of the year there is usually family around; or maybe you have/know some kids who are looking to score a few extra brownie points before the big guy in red comes down the chimney. They may not be able to help you with office work, but you can definitely use those around you at home as a resource. One less thing on your mind and your to-do list will help you concentrate on bigger more pressing tasks.

4. Categorize – When you made your list I bet you noticed that some overlap. When working through your list, complete tasks that are related rather than jumping all over the place, it’ll save you time, energy, and even some sanity.

5. Reflect – Another big part of the holiday season is reflecting on the year that was. As you rush to finish all your work, take a moment, step back, and reflect. Take time to evaluate what truly needs to be completed and what can wait until the next year. Some things you will not be able to complete in this short period of time. Recognizing this will help you be less stressed and more successful in completing the projects that are time sensitive.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the season. We all feel pressure from many directions–from work, from our family, and from ourselves. We want everything to be perfect. By taking time to step back and prioritize our work, hopefully the holidays will be less stressful and we will be able to enjoy the season and each other.

Do you have any other suggestions for prioritizing during the holidays? What type of tasks do you have on your to do list in December and how are you conquering them? Let’s help each other create a strategy for the best way to accomplish our goals in this last month!

An Office Thanksgiving: 7 Ways to Show Employees You are Thankful for Their Work

img_4130The start of the holiday season is upon us. In just about a week we will gather with family and friends and gobble down as much turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing as our belly will allow. We will enjoy each other’s company and be thankful for many things. We know how to celebrate with our family but what about our work family? What are we thankful for in the office? How can we show our employees we are thankful for them?

You and your staff have worked hard during this year and are starting to look forward to the holiday break. Before cooking the turkey and hitting the Black Friday sales, take inventory of what your office should be thankful for this time of the year. Ask for input from employees. Make it an office community activity. Most importantly, don’t forget to thank your employees! While free turkeys are great, here are some other ways to show your fellow workers you are grateful for them and all they do.

Tell Them! It sounds so simple and it is, but everyone likes to know they are appreciated! You can write a card, send out and email, or give them a pat on the back. Just say Thank You!

Give a Small Gift: Again, this can be super simple, maybe it’s a gift card for gas or coffee, or a catered lunch or surprise dessert bar.

Celebrate Accomplishments and Milestones: Have employees who have been furthering their education and earned new degrees or certifications? What about those in the office who have gotten engaged/married or had a child? Take time to congratulate them; be thankful for their accomplishments and new beginnings.

Have an Office Thanksgiving! This is the time of year we loosen our belt buckles and share meals together. Take time to relax; celebrate as a work family for all the things you are grateful for as an organization.

Give Them Time Off: It’s a busy time of year. If possible, be flexible with employee schedules and let them take the time they need with their families. Take it from a former retail worker, breaks during the holiday are needed and greatly appreciated.

Donate on Their Behalf: Many employees burn the candle at both ends, working to support their family during the day, then working to help others in their free time. Show you are grateful for their hard work and sacrifice by donating to their cause.

Relax the Dress Code: Within reason, say thanks for your great work by letting employees let their hair down and relax while continuing to be productive.

What are you and your organization thankful for this year? How do you show employees they are appreciated and you are grateful for their hard work? Let us know what we’ve missed.

Most importantly have a great Thanksgiving and eat as much turkey and pie as you can!