HR Consultant - McGeachy Consulting




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Employee Appreciation Day Formula that Delivers an Excellent Experience

According to the research conducted by Gary Chapman and Paul White the authors of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, people feel appreciated in 5 different categories: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Tangible Gifts and Physical Touch (that last one is not appropriate for the workplace!). Given our workplace climate, we will focus on the first four. As you think about your workplace, showing your appreciation in a variety of forms will be the best way to reach your diverse team.

Employee Appreciation Day Formula --->

food + gift, act of service, or event + handwritten note of appreciation = employees who feel appreciated


  • Lattes

  • Specialty donuts

  • Locally sourced bagels

  • Healthy, delicious, catered lunch

Gift, Act of Service, or Event:

  • Schedule a chair massage therapist to come to your office

  • Car wash (or car wash gift card)

  • Magazine subscription (how about Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Inc.?)

  • A special book

  • Bottle of wine

  • Use chalk on the sidewalk outside your office to draw your appreciation: 'Our team ROCKS!' If your team is large, have a few of your leaders meet you early in the morning to help cover the sidewalk with appreciation of everyone on your team. You could even use alliteration to match the first letter of their first name with an adjective such as: Can-do Carly or Sales Slugger Sam.

Handwritten Note of Appreciation:


Write handwritten notes of appreciation for each person on your team.

Finally, it’s not about how significant your appreciation day events or gifts are, it’s how much love goes into the act of appreciating your team members. Something simple with buckets-full of appreciation can be magnificent.

Onboarding is the ‘secret sauce’ to cultivating great team

As published in the Vancouver Business Journal on July 20, 2018


Sixty-nine percent of employees who experience a proper on-boarding stay on the job for three years. If that’s not enough to catch your attention consider this: 20 percent of turnover happens in the first 45 days (Click Boarding).

We know that no business sets out to create an environment of chaos or one that is unwelcoming or even one that is boring, but new hires frequently report that their on-boarding is all three. New hires often report that they don’t have enough to do. Sitting at a desk or workstation staring at the computer with nothing to do to be productive is dreadful. And, it happens to new hires frequently.

An onboarding plan is a method by which a company acclimates, engages and retains new employees (Society of Human Resource Management). On-boarding is the secret sauce to cultivating a great team.

What should be included in an onboarding plan?


Before the First Day:

  • Stay connected to your new recruit between the offer and their first day.
  • Start on-boarding before your new team member’s first day by sending a welcome email or even a video greeting. This email will tell the employee what time and where to arrive on the first day of work, what they should wear and perhaps a bit about their first-day schedule. It will also convey how excited you are that the team member is coming to work for you.
  • Share the news with your current team about your new hire, their start date, and some details about their background. Proactive communication with your team will help create an inviting environment for the new hires’ first day and transparency for your workforce.
  • Mail a card to the new hire signed by the entire team.


First Day:

  • The ideal first day should have a fully booked agenda with minimal downtime. Okay, just a little to let the employee login to systems and email. But not too much or things get boring. Naturally, the first day will include a meeting with their manager and also Human Resources or Payroll for important first-day paperwork.
  • Show team members that you are expecting their arrival by creating a new hire welcome kit and have it sitting on their desk on the first day. Perhaps add some company swag in the form of a water bottle, coffee mug or company logo-wear to their welcome kit.
  • Power-up their workstation to include all necessary supplies, technology, usernames and passwords that will be important for their work. If applicable order business cards, name tag, and ID badge before their first day.
  • Provide a tour of the office along with introductions. Also, include a map of workstations so that they can easily find team members after the tour. Give new hires access to an employee directory and organizational chart.
  • Take the new hire to lunch. Make a plan to take the new team member to lunch either in a group or 1:1.
  • End of day wrap-up. Schedule a check-in at the end of the first day. Ask what went well and what could have gone better to gather insight as you plan for the remainder of their on-boarding. Repeat this check-in often.


Beyond the First Day:

  • Create a schedule for the first two to three weeks. Pre-set essential meetings throughout the first weeks so that the new hire knows what to expect. Ideas include: meetings with business leaders, meetings with peers, having them sit in or join a special task force or project.
  • Plan a formal sit down, or 1:1, with the manager and new employee at 30, 60 and 90 days.
  • Assign ramp-up goals. What should the new hire accomplish in the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
  • Schedule time for the new team member to train on all aspects of the business, not only their department. Cross-training and introductions to all departments in the first weeks can be helpful.
  • Ask the new hire to rate his/her on-boarding at the end of 90 days. What went well? What could have gone better?


How long is the onboarding process?

A full 90 days. Yes, it is more intense upfront with the first day planned out by every hour. As the on-boarding progresses, you can check in and guide less frequently. Managers fail though when they stop engaging with their new hire after the first two to three weeks and assume they are all set.

The ideal scenario with onboarding is that a business recruits a talented superstar and they meet their superstardom beginning on the first day. Engage them, train them and set them free to contribute their talents to the business. On-boarding can go one of two ways: an employee reports to their friends and family that “it’s fine,” or they report, perhaps even brag on social media, that they “made the best career decision ever.” It’s your choice.


Amy McGeachy, PHR, is an HR consultant in Southwest Washington and the founder of McGeachy Consulting and The Exceptional Workplace. She has spent nearly a decade working hands-on with small business owners to cultivate their workforce and create the kind of businesses they’re proud to lead.

What are you grateful for at work? [Team Builder]

Supplies: Whiteboard or large post-it paper (for virtual teams a shared Google doc will work) and markers (colorful markers are best)

Participants: Any number

Time: Unlimited (could run Monday - Wednesday of Thanksgiving week)

Team Builder Gratitude at Work - McGeachy Consulting

Gratitude is contagious and most often it doesn't cost anything. Grab the post-it notes and start decorating your office!


This team builder can be kicked off at a regular staff meeting or even via email. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and being grateful, have participants share on the whiteboard or post-it paper what they are grateful for at work. The goal is to have employees reflect on what is great about the workplace and build a bond among the team as everyone collectively takes this time to reflect. There is no limit to how much each person writes; one person might write a word or multiple words while another might write a sentence.

Start with a whiteboard or large post-it paper and put it in a prominent location in your office. A location where people walk by often is the best. Write in the center, “What are you grateful for at work?” A bucket of colorful markers will help liven up the team builder.

Every workplace will have a different end result, some might be full of words while others may even have icons or pictures drawn. Encourage creativity.

Results: The individual and collective group reflection about what makes your workplace a great place to create a bond among the team. It’s simple and collectively effective at drawing out insights into your workforce.

Take a picture of the final product. Perhaps send the picture to your team expressing your own gratefulness or keep it for yourself for a rainy day to remind you of the synergy you've created. And if you want to brag about your workforce send me a picture of this masterpiece. Nothing makes me happier than a grateful workplace.


Love practical tips for creating an exceptional business? We’ve got loads more in The Exceptional Workplace! We help small business leaders (CEO, Owners, HR, Controllers) cultivate exceptional workplaces through strong HR and people practices. Learn more here.

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Simple Halloween Inspired Spirit Booster [Team Builder]

As featured in The Exceptional Workplace - an eLetter for conscientious business leaders. Sign-up to receive bi-weekly team builders and much more.

Supplies: Photos from team members, tape or pushpins

Participants: This is a relaxed spirit-boosting team builder for both small and large teams (3+)

Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Have team members bring a photo of themselves in a Halloween costume. They should secretly give it to you prior to the next staff meeting. All photos must be workplace friendly! Prior to the staff meeting, post all of the photos on a whiteboard (or wall). Let the team try and guess who is who. The person with the best-disguised costume (the hardest one to figure out) is the winner. This may be arbitrary! Give a pat on the back or a candy bar to the winner, your choice.


A fun stroll with your team down memory lane. Some employees may choose to bring a photo from their young childhood while others may want to bring something more recent. Either is acceptable as long as it’s workplace appropriate.


Love practical tips for creating an exceptional business? We’ve got loads more in The Exceptional Workplace! We help small business leaders (CEO, Owners, HR, Controllers) cultivate exceptional workplaces through strong HR and people practices. Learn more here.