A thank you card.
Running a business

5 ways to say “Thank You” during COVID-19

I’d like to raise a glass to the imminent end to 2020. Yep, it’s happening. We’ve got less than a month to go, and we get to tell this year to kick it. I plan to do so in a fabulous manner. Not sure how yet, but adult drinks and fireworks will be involved.

Sure, we’ve all lived through difficult times, but while trying to keep spirits and morale for my employees, clients, and colleagues, and our own families, COVID-19 has single-handedly been the largest challenge of my career – and I was self-employed during the 2008 Great Recession.

As a child, I once interviewed my grandmother for a class project on what it was like to live through the 1929 depression. She told me, “We just did it. We made do, and we stuck together as a family.” She seemed surprised that it was something so frightening to me. Her grit was apparent, and I’ve frequently drawn on that memory when pushing through tough times.

For me, 2020 was an emotional great depression. While most of us pushed through, losing the daily presence of colleagues, friends, and family, or even feeling guilty when we did see them, was almost unbearable. Make no mistake, 2020 has been a year of national grief for families who were separated, and that does not even account for the heart-wrenching grief of families and friends who lost loved ones to COVID-19.

My heart has hurt for everyone since mid-March, but I do look forward to brighter days and moments of happiness as we plan to be front and center once the vaccines arrive. 2021 will, in contrast to 2020, be a year of celebration in my home. Maybe not in January, but I’m confident that by summer, we will be turning a corner: celebratory reunions, recovering businesses, and more.

As Americans, we’ve always united in our love of community, even if we have differing political opinions. I’m sure that as we move to brighter days, there will be much to celebrate.

In the meantime and afterwards, there are several ways to show gratitude to your own teams and clients, even from afar, and even once we’re back to a regular routine. Let’s take away the lesson of kindness from this year, and make an effort to get to know and mentally support our fellow humans, whether they be clients, colleagues, or otherwise. Here are five ways to say “thank you.”

1. Send personalized holiday and thank you cards

This year has shown the human side of all of us. I feel closer to many of my colleagues and clients than ever before. Instead of sending a company greeting or thank you card, try sending one that shows a personalized look into your own family. Shutterfly is great for creating personal greeting cards. Repurpose yours to show how your family (work family or home) is thankful for their partnership or help. We all need a little more human collegiality this year. Sometimes, when calling a support line, I hear, “If you hear a pet or child during your call, please be patient.” On the contrary, I have loved getting to know the children and pets of those I’ve worked with. They make the days a little brighter, and hearing little voices during a call always makes me smile.

2. Send small gifts

Gifts of thanks do not need to be expensive, but they can be theme-based. We send our team members surprise gifts through the year during times of stress or joy, or sometimes just “because.” Knowing you put thought and care into boosting the spirits of those in your work circle helps to show you care.

My favorite gift to send this year was the Ember mug. They use technology (which my Certum team can always appreciate) to keep beverages warm, while we work those long hours. However, I can’t claim thinking of this one, as our sales director cleverly found them. There wasn’t a holiday involved. Everyone was working through a stressful week, and we wanted to let them know they were noticed. We’ve also sent smart notebooks, Alexa smart speakers, candles, socks, and more. With all of the negative surprises in the news, a happy surprise in the mail always helps the spirits.

3. Focus on escapism

While the day-to-day life may be mundane, you can gift imagination. While recently looking for gifts for our circle, I happened across Blueboard.com that provides specially curated gifts for employees. While I love the site, you can also replicate your own curated kits for cooking, crafts, and more. How fun! Use your own imagination and surprise your team.

4. Offer surprise days off

No one will argue with this! Mental health is an important focus for managers right now, and giving your team a surprise day off for mental reset is a great way to show you care.

5. Say thank you and show your appreciation

It doesn’t cost anything, and letting your team know that you see their hard work and that they are noticed shows you aren’t oblivious to the efforts of those around you. Take it a step further and tell them why you are noticing their hard work. For example, don’t say, “thank you for your hard work.” Say, “I noticed how you …. (helped the client, pitched in on a project, made the company look like a hero). Way to go. I really appreciate what you did there.” People can detect lip service. Make sure you are genuine and notice what your team is doing.

Whatever you do to spread cheer, you are fighting the good fight. The world needs happiness and joy this holiday season more than it has in a long time, and your gratitude and good tidings will have ripple effects that you may or may not get to see, but will have a lasting effect on those around you.

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