The Meme that Boosted the Morale of Bus Drivers, and How a Little Recognition goes a long way

You may have recently come across the memes encouraging thanking the bus driver. There has a recent surge in these surprisingly wholesome meme, but nobody knows where it started. Some reports have pointed to one former light-rail worker on twitter bringing it to our shores by encouraging passengers to engage in the simple common courtesy, with the likes of Russell Crowe backing him up. Since then, the local comedy site “Brown Cardigan” proliferated dozens of the memes, with my personal favourite being the seagull yelling “cheers mate” at the bus driver.

These memes have had a great effect on the morale of bus drivers by causing a recent surge in people actually thanking bus drivers too. Friday’s edition of the Australian featured one very smiley “Charles Everett” from Marrickville being pleasantly surprised by all the additional praise.

bus driver meme
Source: Brown Cardigan

These memes and the resulting positivity being directed to bus drivers is certainly a heartwarming story. As a daughter of a former bus driver myself, I know all too well that the rewards in menial labour are few and far between, and that for anyone trying to get through the hard slog in order to provide for their family this simple acknowledgement can make all the difference.

How does this apply to work?

It is easy to generate a similar effect in your own workplace. The effect of a simple thank you in general has been shown time and time again to boost employee morale, increase engagement and, in turn drive up productivity. This is much more achievable in a team-based setting, and certainly doesn’t require a viral social media following. Make a point of rewarding your employees for the achievements they may make. Even when there is no specific noteworthy mention to make, say thank you genuinely every day for the time your employees contribute to your office. Remuneration isn’t enough, employees need the feel like they matter and their work is valued to be engaged at work.

Some practical ways to thank your “bus drivers”

Encourage your employees to also call out the achievements of their coworkers by holding a weekly “call-out” meeting. You can also import gifts into workplace chats like Slack so that employees can gift each other with small rewards or favours such as cups of coffee or lunches.

For particularly significant achievements, like being named small business of the year in your field for example, hold larger parties to acknowledge the efforts of your employees. And of course at eofys and christmas, hold the traditional celebrations to both thank your employees and give them some time to let their hair down.

So, to increase the good that this meme is doing, take a lesson out of it’s book and remember to thank your employees at regular intervals. And indeed, in the immortal words of Principal Skinner, “Hail to the Bus Driver, Bus Driver Man”.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

Employee Salary Self-Reporting: Blessing or Curse

A spreadsheet compiled by Google employees has recently caused quite a stir,  as it recorded the salaries of a wide variety of employees across all levels of the company,  specifically comparing the salaries of men and women.

It has been used in an ongoing class action claiming that Google discriminates on the basis of gender,  and lead to Google being ordered by the court to provide more documents for evidence of pay records. Meanwhile, Google continues to insist this is a storm in a teacup, and suggests that the spreadsheet does not take into account other factors such as performance, and that it is not a representative sample.

Gender politics aside though, the current events do make an interesting commentary on the state of pay transparency in some of these major corporations. If employees feel the need to compile this sort of evidence, this suggests that toxicity has crept into the culture. This can only lead to resentment amongst employees, both towards each other, and directed towards management.

Why is pay transparency so discouraged?

The right of a worker to be transparent about their salary and wages is actually protected under American law, under the National Labour Relations Act. If it takes an anonymous spreadsheet to have pay transparency in this company, it sends a pretty strong message, that this kind of disclosure is not widely accepted within Google.

It’s a fairly widespread attitude, it’s seen as impolite to actually discuss what you earn in most of western culture, which big corporations couldn’t be more pleased about. This culture of silence is really not doing any favours for employees in the long run, however. For companies who prefer to keep employees underpaid on the lower rungs of their ladder, in favour of keeping more money in the budget for other employees or other resources, employees without pay transparency are left to fend for themselves without any ground to stand on. Obviously, for companies with this culture, pay transparency is not in their best interests.

A culture of trust

However, this culture of keeping employees in the dark about their colleagues’ pay doesn’t allow for trust in the relationship between employer and employee. Trust is vital in the workplace environment to encourage open lines of communication and maintain employee motivation and engagement.
An employee is likely to find out if they are being severely underpaid compared to their colleagues eventually,  and when they do, a great deal of resentment will be the result. While it is true to say that more money will not help employees be more engaged with their work, pay inequality is likely to lead to dissatisfaction and can lead to lots of good employees to turnover. This is much more expensive than a pay rise or bonus when you consider the costs of re-hiring and training to fill that role.

Ultimately this spreadsheet which has enabled employees to self-report their salaries has been a curse for Google, and may possibly lead to them being ordered to pay millions in compensation of unequal salaries. However, hopefully I have demonstrated that pay transparency in the first place would have been a lot less costly.  Perhaps, this has been a blessing in disguise, if it leads other companies to be more transparent in order to avoid this happening to them.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.


Employee engagement everyday: how to encourage daily self-motivation

There is increasing evidence that employee engagement is vitally important in ensuring the productivity of the workplace.

Yet surveys repeatedly find that the vast majority of workers are either somewhat or actively disengaged, therefore, it is critical to invest in employee engagement. While investments in long term strategies for employee engagement are extraordinarily useful, there are simple techniques that can be employed in the day-to-day which can help employees to self-regulate their own engagement in their daily tasks.

Through taking a “bottom-up” approach, influencing the individual employee in terms of what resources they have available to self-engage on a daily basis, employee engagement can be readily achieved in a cost-effective manner.  

Self-management behaviours

A body of research identifies self-management behaviours as those that help an employee to self-facilitate motivation and structure the workplace environment. (1) The following are recognised forms of self-management behaviours:

  • Self- observation: awareness of work behaviours which may lead to reflection and improvement
  • Self- goal setting: effective when goals are specific, achievable, and measurable.
  • Self-cueing:  writing down list of tasks which need to be achieved, helping employees to reorient to the task at hand
  • Self reward: Reinforcing achievements with desirable traits
  • and self-punishment:  tough self-talk when performance is less than desired.

Together these self-management behaviours will help to reinforce positive work traits, whilst  discouraging lack of drive and commitment, ensuring an overall balance of successful performance.

Workplace autonomy

However, employees are not able to engage in self-management behaviours if they’re not provided with the autonomy to do so. Therefore stepping back, providing less  external control, can enable an employees to engage new self-management behaviours in order to feel more competent at work.

Job resources

Additionally, evidence shows that effective job resources are needed for employees to engage in this self regulation. (1) These include decision latitude (the ability to decide when and how to do tasks that contribute to the workplace),  social support, performance feedback and regular opportunities to use their skills. For example, it has been shown that flight attendants were more engaged on days when they received more social support, and that fast food operators at a restaurant performed better on days when they received more opportunities to act autonomously and coaching to develop their skills. (2) Furthermore, it has been shown that self-management techniques improve not only in the short term during the days in which  actions to improve resources were utilised, self regulation behaviours were also increased in the weeks following. (1)

Finally, to promote self-management behaviours, as aforementioned, a manager should enable employees to have the autonomy in the workplace in order to put these strategies into place. To make the message super clear, hold a self-management workshop to inform and role-play these behaviours in a simulated environment. Then, ensure that you provide the resources your employees need to practice these behaviours, including regular constructive feedback, and opportunities to use their varied skills. Finally, keep it fun, and make sure that employees do not perceive these behaviours as a chore or a withdrawal of support by management. Ensure an open-door policy with all employees, so that they can feel free to discuss any issues at any time to keep the sense of support well-established.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

  1. Breevaart K, Bakker AB, Demerouti E. Daily self-management and employee work engagement. J Vocat Behav. 2014;84:31-8.
  2. Xanthopolou D, Bakker AB, Demerouti E, Schaufeli WB. Reciprocal relationships between job resources, personal resources and work engagement. J Vocat Behav. 2009;74:235-44.

The Chemistry of Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is the buzzword on everyone’s lips in human resources currently. Without it, countless hours are lost to employee absenteeism, resulting in reduced productivity, and retention rates for good employees may actually be driven down due to lack of engagement.
But how can it be achieved?  
Employee engagement can be driven by social cohesion, i.e. by creating “chemistry” between your employee so that they “bond” together. Social cohesion creates a team environment, so that your employees work for not only their pay-packet, but also in order not to let their teammates down. We call this concept, the “diamond” phenomenon.

What does social cohesion look like?

In essence, it looks like a diamond. You probably know that a diamond is created under pressure. Actually, diamonds are made up of carbon molecules highly bonded to each other. So too, with the correct social cohesion, pressure need not destroy the links of a company, but solidify the bonds and turn your company into a diamond.

Creating “bonds”

As an employee, you are in a unique position to create social cohesion. Your actions are like the electrons that form bonds in a diamond, creating the structure that binds your team together by the bonds you form with your team members. What is an example of a bond, I hear you ask?

One example, is to create “coffee dates” between employees. Have all the names of your employees in a draw and match up employees to go on “dates” to get to know one another. If you’re feeling generous you can fund the coffee. The more that your employees are involved with this scheme, the more employees they meet and get to know, and the greater the social cohesion

Another strategy is larger events. Holding office barbecues or Sunday picnics are another way of encouraging social mingling, as are parties for celebrations or holidays. Alternatively, organise a “fun” activity once a month, such as rock climbing or bowling.

Additionally, providing a meeting place for employees can help maintenance of social cohesion. Schools provide a teachers lounge for employees, similarly, a common room can provide an opportunity for socialisation between co-workers. With a common room, you can provide an occasional lunch, or an occasional take-away dinner if people are staying late, creating further opportunity for workers to take a break and mingle.

The effect of one social link

Hemoglobin is an unique chemical structure when looking for a comparison to social cohesion. It is the oxygen carrying component of red blood, and with each bond to oxygen, the structure of haemoglobin changes so that it can bind more oxygen. This is similar to friendships in the workplace, one friendship, is likely to encourage others to form, and the overall structural integrity of the whole company is improved.

Hopefully you’ve learned how to influence the engagement of your employees by improving social cohesion. So if you currently have a bunch of inert gases (people) who won’t bind to each other at all, take these steps to start the process of mingling in the office, and end up with a stronger, more productive company.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

A guide to using humour in the workplace, using famous workplaces from Netflix Shows

All of us remember a particular job that we had which had a more relaxed attitude, jokes abounded and the camaraderie we felt helped us pass the hours just that bit more quickly. So popular, is the idea of humour at work, that any workplace depicted in television has a good dose of humor accompanying it.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

For example, anyone who has seen the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine will know of the hilarious antics that take, place in the police station that the captain not only puts up with but also joins in with. However, if everyone isn’t in on the joke, the situation could be more damaging than it is helpful. This article seeks to explain how you can take of advantage of the productivity which comes with encouraging jokes in the workplace, without causing offence to some of your employees.

Having a good laugh in the workplace has been shown to benefit creativity and productivity in the workplace. Yet, some employers make the mistake of stifling humor, seeing it as a distraction from getting work done. This is definitely a mistake, as humour has been shown to increase productivity, rather than hampering it.

Similarly, the role of humour in the workplace is hardly ever taken seriously by researchers, yet the work that does focus on this area shows overwhelmingly positive effects (1). Humour generally has a hard time being taken seriously, only tragedies being considered truly great pieces of literature. However, if you want a seriously great film, I recommend the hilarious dark comedy “the Seven Psychopaths” starring Colin Farrell. Don’t make the same mistake of these researchers and literature critics, encourage humour in your workplace to benefit productivity today!

The Office

While humour can have all of these great benefits in the workplace, it can go awry quickly. Poor jokes, especially sexist, homophobic or racist jokes can only serve to alienate certain members of the staff.

One need look no further for an example than the seriously awkward situation on “The Office”, when in the process of making a point about racial discrimination, the manager, Michael Scott gives the role of “Black” to Stanley (who is a black man). To combat this, understand that styles of humour can be broken down into:

  • affiliative humour (when you laugh with others)
  • aggressive humour (jokes that are made at the expense of others)  
  • self-enhancing humour (in which one attempts to cheer oneself up)
  • self-defeating humour (in which one uses, or allows others to use negative humour at their expense)

Employees can be educated on these four types of humour styles to understand that affiliative humour and self-enhancing humour are the most acceptable forms. Additionally, ensuring that work behaviour and anti-harassment policies are up-to-date and communicated to employees can be helpful. Once these steps are in place, feel free to encourage as much humour as possible, to the benefit of both your employees, and the bottom line.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

  1. Holmes J, Marra M. Having a laugh at work: how humour contributes to workplace culture. J Pragmat. 2002;34(12):1683-1710.

3 Fun ways to increase employee engagement

Engaged employees are a rare breed. Amongst even the biggest and most highly rated organizations in the world, we will often find that engaged employees would account for at best only about 50% of the total workforce.

A Gallup survey conducted in 2013  suggested that only 13% of total employees are engaged, which truely makes for a remarkable 50% a remarkable number to achieve. Where does employee engagement come from? How do we make sure our employees are engaged? What do we do to ensure an engaged workforce?

Using an employee engagement platform is one of the best ways to increase your employee engagement. Being able to recognize and reward employees based on their behaviours and adherence to company values is one of the best ways to increase employee engagement. Apart from this, there are other fun ways to increase employee engagement.

Here are 8 fun ways to increase employee engagement:

Attaching notes of appreciation to your Kanban

The Kanban is a component of project management used to measure the progress of a given project. Kanban can be used in digital form through programs like Jira, MS Project etc, however it is becoming industry standard to create a Kanban through post it notes and other cards on the wall.
As most projects are made up of User Stories and Epics, the content of the Kanban will indicate what User Stories are completed and which are in progress. As the Kanban becomes increasingly filled, it can be easy to lose track of who is working on what, and to share the wins when something gets completed. The content of the Kanban can be pretty dry at times, so why not spice it up with some notes of appreciation. Usually User Stories are completed by one person, or a small team at best, so it’s important to reward and recognize team members when they complete something. Adding stickers to the notes is a fun way to do this!

Add “thank you” notes of appreciation into your office culture

Using “Thank you” notes around the office is a great way to build employee engagement through rewards and recognition. Though you might think that simply verbally saying thank you is an effective strategy as it is, being able to write it down is even more effective in engaging people. The reason why a physical reminder of a thank you is more effective is because it lingers, long after the action has occurred. This builds employee engagement through rewards and recognition. It also adds an element of fun by giving team members a chance to express their gratitude in unique ways.

If you’re feeling a bit strange about saying thank you, there is a guide.

Have a rage and praise meeting

Rage and praise meeting, though a recent phenomena is actually a great way to increase employee engagement, by allowing employees to air grievances and praise others hard work.

To be clear, a rage and praise day is a day whereby team members go around a circle and say “I raged at … but praise … for making it better“, or something along those lines. A rage and praise meeting is great for giving team members a voice, but also providing their airing of grievances with a balance. Usually, complaints are hard to voice due to a perceived air of negativity, but giving them a voice can definitely help.

The best way to increase employee engagement is through rewards and recognition. Though there are many ways to increase employee engagement, try these!

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.