An old reliable play that never gets stale. A written “thank you” or “thinking of you” note received through the United States Postal Service is a cherished gem these days. It only takes a minute and a stamp, but this play goes long in endearing you to the recipient. Even a handwritten note left at the desk of your teammate wins bonus points because it is so rare. Think about it!
Pop Quiz! Which mail gets opened first? A) A statement from a company that bills you monthly
B) A pre-printed solicitation letter with an offer
C) A handwritten note card with a real stamp
Ding! Ding! Ding! You win! Yes, the answer is C—the handwritten note card with a real stamp. Since email has taken over the world, this move is such a surprise it’s almost a trick play. It will be treasured and displayed as a trophy.
With rapid advancements in technology, digital consumption has skyrocketed in recent years and is now a part of our everyday lives. While the benefits it offers in convenience and access to information can’t be denied, it also can’t be denied that the increasingly digitized world we live in has had a negative impact on human connection (spend 10 minutes in just about any restaurant and you’ll notice how most patrons spend more time on their phones versus conversing and interacting with their tablemates).
In the workplace, when employees feel disconnected from their leaders and even each other, the consequences can be dire. In fact, one study found that loneliness at work has a “significant influence on employee work performance, both in direct tasks, as well as employee team member and team role effectiveness rated by both the employee’s work unit members and supervisor” while another noted that “without a feeling of social connection at work, people make less ‘discretionary effort’ – the bits of work that lift an employee past being the contributor of the bare minimum.”
One way to build a stronger feeling of human connection among those on your team? Send a handwritten note! Handwritten letters are much more personal than emails and text messages and are therefore more impactful. It shows that you value that person not just as an employee, but as a human being. Taking the time to foster a deeper sense of connection will ultimately build a stronger, more cohesive team. Who knows, with you setting the example, perhaps your team members will start sending each other (and you) handwritten letters. After all, behavior is contagious!
This week, I challenge you to identify someone on your team to write and send a handwritten letter to. It can be a letter of appreciation to someone who has recently gone above and beyond, someone who has been putting in a lot of effort but not quite seeing the desired results who could benefit from a boost, or just a simple “thanks for being a member of our team” to a newer hire.
FUN FACT: Postal services began in the first half of the 17th century serving the first American colonies. Informal independently run postal routes began in Boston as early as 1639, with Boston to New York City service starting in 1672. In 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General, the U.S. Post Office was born.