AS GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE, the French poet and critic, once observed: “Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” The same could be said of managing today. Every now and then, we all need a break from striving to make things happen to just reflect on and appreciate what has happened — and think about the people who have made it happen.

A sales manager at Novartis Pharmaceuticals recently told me how he took some time with his team to reflect on what each person was good at. For example, he'd say: “Sherri is one of the best I've ever seen at probing clients to determine their needs. If you are stuck with how to do this with a client, or want to develop your skill in this area, ask her how she does it.” He found that not only did the attributes he identified in his team members become points of pride for them, but they each also became exceptional at those skills. His team grew stronger together as its members learned from each other — all from just a few minutes of reflection and appreciation.

At Gene-Trak Systems, management created a Ferris Bueller's Day Off, named after the movie starring Matthew Broderick. All of the company's employees were gathered together under the guise of a business meeting. Instead, they were given an all-day celebration to thank them for their efforts. The festivities included a showing of the movie, of course, complete with candy, soft drinks, and popcorn. As the CEO stated: “Sometimes life moves pretty fast, and if you don't pay attention, you can miss it.”

It doesn't take a fortune to make employees feel appreciated. At Worzalla Publishing Co., the quality services department exceeded its goal of 99.85 percent accuracy for the past five years. To recognize the achievement, Bill Downs, the company's quality supervisor and continuous improvement manager, took the department to lunch and gave each team member a certificate of appreciation and a gift card for “dinner and a movie” (a movie rental and a pizza). His total cost per person: $20.

These are just some of the many employee appreciation ideas that I've seen organizations use throughout the years. For many more examples — 101, to be exact — take a look at my new project, 101 Ways to Boost Morale at Work. This e-document is can be downloaded instantly from

Bob Nelson, PhD, is president of Nelson Motivation Inc., San Diego; best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, and Managing For Dummies; and a frequent speaker to management groups, conferences, and associations. For more information, call (800) 575-5521, visit, or send e-mail to