UofL CARDGram samples

A simple thank-you note can go a long way—all the way across campus. Laura McDaniels, an engagement specialist from the University of Louisville Employee Success Center, has been putting a creative spin on UofL’s ability to foster an encouraging and appreciative culture.

When the Employee Success Center began in 2020, McDaniels saw annual recognition methods and awards in place, but no way for employees to be recognized in a daily, on-the-spot manner. She began creating an easy tool, using Microsoft and four initial card designs, that could send personalized appreciation through email. Thus, the CARDGram was born.

“Research says that a highly rated reason people leave a job is because they didn’t feel appreciated,” said McDaniels, who also is a certified facilitator of Workplace Appreciation Languages. “Sometimes we get really bogged down with heavy workloads, and we just don’t think to take time to write an appreciative note. Having this tool makes it easier for our employees to find ways to support each other.”

Since the program started, almost 7,500 CARDGrams have been sent, whether by individuals or by schools within UofL who see the chance to encourage all students in their department. Participation tends to rise around a holiday or the change of season.

“Last Thanksgiving, I decided to create a fall-themed thankfulness card design and put it in UofL Today the Monday before the holiday,” she said. “I believe we had about 250 sent out in three days. That was extremely exciting, so I did it again this year, and had about 350.”

As engagement grows, McDaniels aims to design several new cards to keep things fresh so folks can have more options to fill someone’s inbox with color and kindness.

“The program has sparked the interest of other universities, and getting that feedback is a great feeling.” McDaniels said. “We hope the CARDGram becomes a household name around campus, known by everyone—and I think we’re starting to get there.”

CARDGrams can be found on the Employee Success Center website. Make someone’s day with a little encouragement!