In a world full of cyber this-and-that, sometimes the most memorable gifts we receive are simple and heartfelt.
Last week we met Andrea Procaccino, vice president and chief learning officer of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the #1 ranked hospital in the New York Metro region for 15 years in a row, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Andrea is a terrific leader—engaging and enabling to her people—and every holiday season she does something that is remembered long after the turkey leftovers are gone. After reading one of our books a few years ago, she adopted the practice of sending a personalized letter home to each of her employees’ families during the holiday season.
Again, the letters don’t go to the employees, but to their spouses, partners, parents or other loved ones. In the letters, she:
- Thanks the families for sharing the person with her team, recognizing how much time they devote to their jobs, that sometimes they have to travel and be away from them, etc.
- Highlights in detail some of the loved one’s accomplishments that year, so they can be proud of how they serve the hospital system, coworkers and patients.
Said Andrea, “I have gotten unbelievably overwhelming response from these letters! They have had an impact not only on the employees but their families.”
One of her employees is a single woman who travels frequently for the organization. Andrea sent a letter to her elderly father, who cried when he read it and put it on his refrigerator for all to see. He also read it to the extended family at Christmas dinner. “To this day, the letter is still proudly displayed on his refrigerator,” she said.
Another employee shared her letter with her boyfriend who was a partner in a law firm. Incredulous, he asked her: “Is this woman you work for real?” He’d never seen anything like it, and asked if he might take the letter into his law firm. The next week he read the letter to his partners, and told them: “This is what’s missing from our firm: Heart, empathy and engagement.” The partners then discussed how they could change their behaviors to start driving employee engagement.
Andrea has found sometime simple for the holidays, but something that is making a big difference in the lives of her employees and their families. And these letters are free … well, almost. You do need to buy a stamp.
So, here’s our challenge for all of us this holiday season: Sit down and write specific, sincere letters of thanks to each of the families of the people who work for you or who help you in any way. Follow Andrea’s formula, a) Thank the family for their sacrifice, and b) Highlight the person’s specific accomplishments.
Of course, please continue to give out the bonus, turkey, box of chocolates or whatever you normally do, just add this letter of thanks to your gift-giving and see what happens.
Now, we’d love to hear from you: What has worked for you in the holiday season to express your thanks?
Chester Elton is a leadership speaker as well as a New York Times Best Selling author.
The content writers at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau are Experts on the Experts. They hold doctoral, masters, and bachelors’ degrees in business, writing, literature, and education. Their business thought pieces are published regularly in leading business publications. Working in close association with the top business, entrepreneur, and motivational speakers, BigSpeak content writers are at the forefront of industry trends and research.