It’s time to cheer up the nation, starting with our colleagues.

I don’t know about you, but, as glued as I have been to the news since the Covid pandemic reached our shores, I have my moments when I wonder why I’m watching. It’s that mental health preservation alarm in my brain that screams “Enough! Too depressing! Please cue up something funny on Dave or Netflix!” [Other streaming services are available]

By: James Blair on

It’s natural to be deeply moved by the dreadful situations around the world and to harbour concerns about the economy, but it’s also OK to want to balance this with some light relief, be that a light-hearted catch-up with loved-ones or an escape into your favourite comedies.

And the same applies at work. It’s such a mixed bag of scenarios out there, with many people worried about the future viability of their role, working under new and different circumstances or no longer working right next to their office bestie. Some are working from home, some are shielding, some are covering furloughed colleagues’ responsibilities. Some have been off and are now returning, some never left and some still aren’t back. The list of variables in endless.

But what connects them is that we all need some light relief, some morale and confidence boosting, and we need to enhance our interpersonal experiences after this rude interruption to normal service!

We know that recognition and appreciation are worth their (post-lockdown) weight in gold. That’s proven fact. But, given that the playing field is no longer level in so many work settings, I thought I’d suggest five light-hearted alternatives to the more usual “best sales performance”, “most calls handled” or “account retention” recognitions…

“Nicest Smelling Hand Sanitiser”

Let’s start with a topical one. Or could it be a tropical one? Maybe you share a workspace with someone whose Carex smells like Love Hearts. [Other hand sanitizers are available]. Or do you have a colleague who leaves a lingering cloud of Mediterranean citrus fruits at your desk each time they waltz by. Why not celebrate how much more their chosen product tickles your olfactory senses than your own boring old Aloe Vera one does?

“Meals on Heels” Award

Got a colleague who always offers to “pick you up something from town” when they nip in to buy their lunch? Got a workmate who generously ruins your post-lockdown diet with a bag of crisps or cheeky chocolate bar when they’ve been to the local sandwich emporium? Thank them using your recognition scheme!

“Stationery To Die For” Award

Do you find yourself gravitating toward a particular colleague every time you need a specific shade of Post-It note, or because you left the lid off your highlighter again and now it’s drier than your auntie’s Christmas-ruining fruit cake? Has one office superstar got the best range of scented Sharpies and glitter gel pens ever? [Other felt tip pens are available.] Tell them how much you appreciate their multicoloured supplies!

“Favourite Fixer” Nomination

If, like me, you die inside at the sight of those heinous words “paper jam”, or if you want to cry actual tears every time a printer goes offline or your router goes on the fritz, then this one may be for you. If someone you work with has spared you from getting copier toner up to the elbows on both arms, or saved you the pain of having to raise a ticket with those lovely IT folk, then shout about their outrageous selflessness and afford them the glory they truly deserve.

“A Cheer for the Cheery”

We all have different senses of humour (or, in the case of some of my ex-colleagues, a black hole of misery where one should be) but you’ll relate to this one if you have a colleague who just brightens your day. Maybe they just have a cheery disposition regardless of what’s going on around them. Maybe they have an endless supply of terribly funny (or funnily terrible) jokes.

If a colleague combines their kindness with humour and a contagiously positive outlook, all of which makes your day all the more enjoyable, then they probably deserve an OBE from our very own Queen Elizabeth II. But if she’s too busy to swing by your office next week, why not thank this wonderful colleague publicly using a more available channel.

These are just five suggestions that sprung into my peculiar little brain. There must be dozens more that would work where you are. The point is they will bring a smile, some joy, a boost to their recipients in what is, for many, a fairly murky time.
Now, more than ever, let’s recognise and appreciate our colleagues.

[Other recognition schemes probably are available. But I like this one.]