Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

It's the Little Things That Count

Creative ideas to improve morale, enhance productivity, and make your lab more fun!

by Barbara A. Glanz, CSP, CPAE
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Barbara A. Glanz , CSPStudies have shown that what workers want from their jobs is not better benefits or more money. Rather, it is the small things that make people feel commitment to an organization. One study shows the top three things workers want are interesting work, full appreciation for the work they do, and a feeling of being in on things. Baxter Labs recently did a global study in which they asked their employees worldwide what they could do to make things better for them. The resounding answer was to be “respected as whole human beings with a life outside of work.”

What seems critical in labs today is for leaders to respond to workers as HUMAN BEINGS and to foster an atmosphere that is inclusive, caring, creative, appreciative and joyful. People are looking for a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their work, and above all, they want to be respected and valued.

Let’s look at eight of my favorite ideas that any lab can adapt and introduce to make an immediate difference in spirit. Common sense as well as much current research tells us that happy employees are more productive employees, so implementing even a few of these ideas will not only boost morale but will certainly impact productivity and profit.

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1. Does everyone in your organization have business cards? If not, that is one of the fastest ways to boost morale. They can be made on the computer for little or no cost and what a meaningful way to tell an employee how valued and important he or she is.

2. Have a contest with employees— “If our lab/department were a T-shirt, this is what it would say...” Then have them actually design the shirt. Photograph, post, or videotape the results. You will learn amazing things about the way people feel about your organization.

3. Collect drawings from employee’s children or grandchildren of “What my Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa/Aunt/ Uncle does at work all day.” Compile these into a company booklet or display them for everyone to enjoy. You are helping to blend work and family by involving workers’ family members, and you are also creating memories.

4. When people in your lab turn on their computers, have a message of the day such as a quotation on customer service, personal growth, something humorous, or even the birthdays of employees during that week. If a day begins with inspiration, it will help lift the level of interaction in your workplace

5. Collect lab legends and success stories on video or audio. If possible, interview the employee or the customer to whom they happened. These recordings become a source of pride for current employees and a wonderful addition to orientation for new hires. You will be recording and celebrating the moments of peak performance in your organizational culture.

6. Add a personal signature to your work to differentiate yourself from all the others who do the same work as you. A United Airlines Captain on each of his flights writes handwritten thank you notes to several passengers whom he picks at random from the computer, thanking them for choosing his airline and offering his help in any way they might need. A grocery store bagger always puts a “Thought for the Day” in each person’s groceries he bags. As employees begin to find ways to express themselves in their work by adding a personal signature, your workplace will become more caring, creative, and much more fun!

7. Have a lab poster party for all frustrated/aspiring artists to create signs and posters that demonstrate the lab’s values. Use quotations, graphics, and bright colors. Display them in clear plastic frames throughout the building. Not only will you find talent you did not know existed, but you will also be creating an atmosphere of inspiration and delight.

8. Post “street” signs to name hallways in your building. Choose names that communicate your company’s mission or values or relate to your core business. You may also want to name hallways after valued employees. By making these values visible daily, employees will constantly be reminded of the organization’s foundation and reason for being.

Remember that it truly is the little things that count. You may decide to try one new idea each month, or form a Spirit Committee and have them design a plan to incorporate some ofthese things into your culture, or simply use these ideas to get your own creative juices going to come up with other ideas that your employees will enjoy. Help create an atmosphere that produces peak performers and committed joyful workers and, as a result, creates more loyal customers. Have fun!

Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, is an internationally known speaker, author and a member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame who works with organizations that want to improve morale, retention, and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the author of 11 best-selling books, including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired By Johnny the Bagger; The Simple Truths of Appreciation; Handle with CARE—Motivating and Retaining Employees; CARE Packages for the Workplace—Dozens of Little Things You Can Do to Regenerate Spirit at Work; Building Customer Loyalty and CARE Packages for Your Customers. Barbara can be reached 941-312-9169;;

Be sure to attend Barbara Glanz’s Lab Manager Academy webinar, “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™—Creating Labs of Passion, Purpose and Productivity!” on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012, or afterwards at to watch the archived video.