Given Out Any Treats Lately?

Photo courtesy of aopsan via

Earlier this week I dropped by the store for a few things and as I was checking out, I hesitated. I had grabbed some cans of cat food and 3 bags of cat treats. This has been a weekly habit for a while and I had to laugh at myself. Our entire family is allergic to cats and somehow we have collected 3 cats over the past few years thanks to the kids. We have acreage so the cats can endlessly roam and explore. They are also spoiled with a cat door into the garage, a soft bed and heat lamp, and of course, canned cat food and treats. Fortunately, they have hearts of gold and keep the critters at bay.

I’m not alone in spoiling our pets and rewarding them with treats. There are more that 70-80 million dogs and 74-90 million pet cats in the United States according to the ASPCA.  That means that 62% of us have at least 1 pet. I’m sure that you know someone (or are one!) that goes a bit overboard on pets by buying them luxury beds, fancy toys, and clothes. According to NBC News this adds up to Americans spending over $60 billion on pets every year. I imagine a large chunk of that is on toys and treats alone.

People have a variety of reasons for spending money on their pets. Rewarding them, showering them with love, training them, or thinking that they are tiny humans. I ‘m a sucker for cat treats because I love the glow in the kitty eyes when I shake the treat bag. Plus, it’s the only way that I can get them to do what I want. Don’t we use similar tactics with our kids or even spouses? We do it because it works.

Pets aren’t so different than people. As a manager, I have enjoyed discovering the gifts in my people and bringing them to the surface. It requires patience and a sincere interest in getting to really know your team. More so, I have been on a journey to see how to reward those around me. Guess what? It doesn’t have to cost a penny. You don’t always need to shell out treats or trinkets with the company logo on them. Most people crave recognition for their work or their skills. They want their gifts to rise to the surface to be utilized and yes, even recognized.

I have a sister that believes her poodle is human – complete with sets of clothing and hair bows to match. When you think about what we spend on rewards for pets it’s astounding. Most of us don’t think enough about how to recognize or reward the people around us. Buying a bag of cat treats is easy, remembering to treat those that we work with, not so much.  Obviously companies shell out billions of dollars a year in rewarding employees however, a large chunk of that expenditure is rewarding years of service, not every day recognition of what are folks doing. What are you doing personally to recognize those around you?

Giving “treats” to those that we have contact with every day is fun, easy, empowering, and yes, inexpensive. If you don’t believe me, think about what you do for your pet every day. A far
flung analogy but it’s true. Think about what you can personally do every day to have an impact on someone that you work with. You don’t need to be a manager to reward, be a person. Let’s get into the habit of treating and rewarding each other.

Ideas on how to recognize those around you

  • How about a good old “thank you” face to face or better yet, in front of everyone else?
  • Drop off an old fashioned thank you card on their desk or mail it to their home
  • Bring in a treat just for a special person
  • Recognize someone on LinkedIn or on an internal social media account
  • Jump in and assist a coworker with a project or task that no one else wants
  • Introduce them to someone that can help them in their career or with their goals. Proudly brag them up
  • Ask a team member to be on a high profile project or team
  • Surprise them with a unique desk gadget
  • Buy them lunch
  • Cover their desk with some scratch off lotto tickets
  • Everyone has a special hobby or passion. Bring them a gift related to their passion
  • Offer more smiles and words of encouragement

Let’s get back to being human. Let’s spend more time and thought thanking others, recognizing coworkers, and offering treats for others. Rewarding doesn’t need to cost anything but your time or attention.  Hey, if you have pets, next time you buy treats for them remember that there are other ways to treat and thank your human friends!