March 4th was employee appreciation day, but we’re taking the whole month to celebrate. Your employees are your business’ front line, and they deserve enormous recognition for the hard work they put in day in and day out. While you can’t give them a raise every single day (even if you’d like to), there are ways to show them you care.
Because employee recognition not only improves company culture, boosts morale, prevents costly turnover, and yes, increases your bottom line, we’ve put together this list of 5 ways to show employees they matter.
Provide Written Recognition
TAB Denver West CEO Blair Koch believes small gestures go a long way when it comes to employee appreciation. “While company leaders may gain intrinsic rewards simply for doing what they do each day, employees naturally don’t have that same level of investment.”To keep employees motivated, she recommends providing a written representation of their extra efforts. “Copying an employee on an email recognizing their great idea to a superior or giving them a handwritten note thanking them for their performance are gestures that can go a long way. Oftentimes, these simple acts of recognition can be every bit as powerful as a raise or promotion.”
Encourage Pet Projects
Giving your employee's side projects “lets them know how important they are,” says TAB Member Don Harrington of Sage Consulting. Not only do side projects have the potential to propel your business forward, but they also show employees you trust them. “Nothing motivates people more than knowing that their boss trusts them and will back their judgement” adds TAB York Owner Ed Reid.
Show Interest in Their Life Outside of Work
Asking an employee about their ski trip is a great start, but actually investing in their life outside of work makes a bigger statement.TAB Member Jim Consedine, President of Benefit Plan Strategies offers each of his employees a $500 annual budget for the personal development activity of their choosing. The employees are encouraged to think outside of the business sphere and work on something they've always wanted, but never had the time or opportunity to do. Employees have tried music and language classes, as well as educational retreats. Since implementing the program, Jim has seen increased engagement between employees (sharing their experiences) and loyalty to the team and company. According to Jim, “Well-rounded employees offer a distinct competitive advantage."
“No perks are going to make up for bad management,” says TAB UK's Jo Clarkson. “But there are a lot of other things you can do to help keep employees happy.”Jo’s executive team hosts a monthly “lunch club.” Employees receive free lunch and are welcome to bring up any topic that doesn't warrant a formal meeting but will benefit from other’s input. “For the price of a few lunches, we get an extra 20 hours of input a week and a much higher level of employee engagement.”
Provide Regular Feedback"It's essential to provide feedback – both positive and constructive – to show employees that you value their contributions, and there’s always room to grow.” says Reid.To make evaluations less tedious, TAB Member Dale Malcom of Gardyne Holt suggests managers organize a book with one page dedicated to each staff member.“Create three columns on each page, one for the month, one to document what the employee can do for the company, and one to document what the company can do for the employee. The monthly column focuses on employee goals and achievements, the second column on longer term impacts the employee can have on the organization, and the final column centers around what the employee needs from the company to be successful.” Malcom recommends meeting monthly to discuss items in one or two of the lists. “Taking this approach, evaluations are quick with no surprises. A legal record is created, ideas are discussed, problems are identified, corrections or actions are taken, and, unsurprisingly, improvement is the outcome.”
Above perks, promotions, and even raises, employees most want their contributions to be valued. Providing regular acknowledgement of their efforts keeps employees around longer, saving your company’s time, money, and reputation.
Keeping employees engaged is one of the most important and challenging aspects of entrepreneurship. Peer advisory can help you find new ways to motivate your team, based on the insights and experiences of other business owners who have been there and done that. Contact a local board to reshape your leadership strategy, one employee at a time.