Cards for Colleagues

A creative collaboration between Design and Internal Communications

During the pandemic, greeting cards have skyrocketed in popularity. According to Fast Company Magazine:

“The card titan [Hallmark] has recorded triple-digit growth in online sales during the holiday period.”

While I enjoy sending and receiving printed cards, I sometimes can’t wait for the mail to deliver my message so I’m a fan of online greeting cards. In the fall, I wanted to  express my appreciation to a team member, but an email felt too informal and a physical greeting card felt too formal. 

Instead, I opened up my favorite do-it-yourself design tool—Canva, the Australian unicorn start-up that has democratized design. I hacked my way through creating a card, but it just didn’t look right despite the custom brand colors that I added. It needed a designer’s extra touch.  

While the card I created would work for this one time use, I asked myself and a few colleagues if this was a resource that team members might appreciate having access to in the future. There was significant interest — a thank you card would add value to our internal communications, enabling us to celebrate and recognize milestone moments. 

Next, I reached out to the talented Design Team to collaborate. And what started with a Thank You card led to a series of creative collaborations and a suite of cards for employees to customize and send to each other. After the Design Team created the cards, the designs were transferred into Canva for employees to customize, download and share.  

Here’s a summary of the thematic approach we took with our cards: 

Thank You 🙏🏻

As a former philanthropy professional, saying thank you is incorporated into my work philosophy frequently. Thank you cards aren’t just for when you’ve received a gift, they are a way to express appreciation for someone sharing time with you or going the extra mile to help. Indeed emphasizes the importance of thank you cards to

“help build better relationships and boost your career.” 

In one of my favorite podcasts “Hurry Slowly” by Jocelyn K. Glei, she interviewed Wharton Professor Adam Grant who is also the author of many bestselling books, including Give and Take about the untapped potential of appreciation. His research indicates that:

“a sense of appreciation is the single most sustainable motivator at work…“and yet, we rarely go out of our way to express our thanks.” 

Glei summarizes a study featured in Harvard Business Review that demonstrates:

“people who were explicitly thanked for their work by a manager, or even a distant supervisor, were found to be 50% more productive afterwards.”

In addition, Glei shares from Grant’s research that it makes people more likely to pay it forward and help someone else in the future. 

Birthday 🎂

Most employees appreciate birthday recognition. But, it is important to ask first if an employee is comfortable with sharing their birthday (minus the year) with the company. Start-up Snack Nation’s blog references the importance of birthday celebrations at work: “multiple studies have shown a strong link between recognition and performance.

A 2012 report by HR firm Bersin & Associates suggests that companies that integrate strong employee recognition practices are on average 12 times more likely than their peers to generate strong business results.”

For the birthday card, consider inviting several team members to “sign” their name to it. In these virtual times, to go over and beyond, consider a Slack channel for birthdays so that everyone can share their favorite emoji or birthday greeting. 

Anniversary 🎉

It’s also important to recognize an employee who has been with a company at yearly intervals. Bonusly, a startup that’s

“building tools to help people feel a sense of purpose and progress at work” writes on their blog about 10 ways to celebrate employees. 

The first suggestion on the list — a card —

“in this technology-driven age, it’s rare that people sit down to thoughtfully pen their sentiments...The milestone of a work anniversary is the perfect opportunity to gather the team together to express their gratitude in writing.”

In addition, they suggest creative gift ideas to consider to compliment the card - a charitable donation in their honor, swag, time off and more. 

Welcome 👋

How we welcome employees can set the tone for their experience. A personal welcome card offers a meaningful initial connection point. Take it one step further by offering suggested content to include in the card. Calendly has curated this list of recommended welcome messages on their blog. Managers might be busy, but if you can help set them up for success, that will make all the difference. 

The Welcome Card can be taken even further with a public recognition within internal channels like Slack or public channels such as LinkedIn. I’ve seen some great examples of companies announcing team members or managers introducing their new recruits to the professional world. Here’s one that I really liked from Delta: 

I hope these recommendations help you think about your approach to team member gratitude and celebrations. What other categories would you add to the company greeting card list?