SAYING ‘THANK YOU’ ON A BUDGET AND MEAN IT

by Kate Vogelsang

For the past year I’ve worked in the NHS in Newcastle, working on the rather large-scale citywide vaccination programme.

Our team has vaccinated more than 200,000 people – a massive challenge, and one we couldn’t have achieved without a large group of volunteers working alongside our team.

Because of this, I wanted to lead a session at this year’s CommsCamp on saying ‘thank you’. It’s never felt more appropriate as it has been this past year, but the importance of also being authentic when saying thank you has also been essential.

I’m not the only one who found ‘clap for carers’ somewhat inappropriate after too long. 

So, here are some of the top tips from a fantastic group of people at the session on ways to thank staff or volunteers. Thank you to all of them for their contributions and for a really inspiring session!

  1. It’s not just about thanking people. You need to ‘see’ them, notice them; say good morning, offer a cup of tea, find out their names. And use them.
  1. Make sure you say thank you all year round, not just at staff awards. Share customer/patient comments on your internal channels, but also on social so those on the receiving end can be celebrated by friends and family.
  1. Give shopping vouchers for local shops as a thank you gift. Not only will this bring a smile, but it will also boost the local economy
  1. Mugs, pin badges and stickers are also often well received. One comms team distributed packets of seeds to their volunteers which was really positive.
  1. A gift of time is appreciated – whether that’s a day’s leave, or an offer to support someone when they are under pressure.
  1. Thank people yourself and encourage your team to do the same. Hopefully it will rub off on others in your organisation. 
  1. Be prepared with the cost of any spending if you buy gifts to say thank you, in case of negative press and give a robust response of the importance of valuing staff.
  1. Use Volunteers Week to thank volunteers and put together award submissions to highlight good work

Kate Vogelsang is a co-organiser of commscamp and runs the Birdsong Consultancy.

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