These are challenging times for employers and employees alike.
For most, the last several months have been anything but “business as usual.” Employers are putting in extra hours to adapt to government regulations and changing work environments. Employees are either working more or working less, along with balancing changes in their personal lives.
As an employer, you know that without the dedication of your employees, you wouldn’t have a business. You want them to know how much you appreciate their commitment to the company. However, cash may be a bit tight, especially with so many unknowns about the future. There are still plenty of ways to let your team know how much you value them without shelling out a ton of cash.
Leadership is not about being in charge, it’s about taking care of those in our charge.”
Here are 10 low cost, high benefit ways to show your employees how much you appreciate them.
1. Ask “How are you doing?” and wait for the answer.
Instead of saying “I’m here if you need me,” proactively reach out to check in on employees. Give them your undivided attention – i.e. put away your phone and silence all notifications.
With our current situation, many thoughts and feelings are swirling around in our heads and hearts. Encourage your employees to share their fears and concerns, but also ask about their hopes and plans. Some concerns may be about their job security during this tumultuous time. Aim to be as transparent as possible and know that it’s okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers.
Brian Hamilton, author of the article, “6 Actions to Take in the Next 90 Days to Save Your Business,” suggests that “It’s important to be honest with employees about your financial condition, but you need to lead people in such a way that they have confidence that you are capable of turning things around.”
2. Offer flexibility.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, an Emplify survey found that disruption to routine is the second most challenging issue behind financial uncertainty. Working from home, balancing childcare and schooling challenges, and the apprehension of how everything will look in the future can cause a lot of anxiety. Letting an employee design their ideal work schedule can alleviate some concern.
For restaurants, retailers and other hourly workplaces, having employees determine their own schedule may not be an option. Consider creative alternatives!
Self-scheduling, for example, is when a manager determines scheduling needs based on customer demand and other factors. Employees are then allowed to choose or trade shifts themselves. Schedules can be created faster and hourly employees have more control over their lives.
A 9/80 work schedule allows an employee two days off every month, with an employee working eight nine-hour days and one eight-hour day in a two-week period to earn one day off.
3. Give compliments.
Every human being has an innate need to belong – to feel needed, valued, and appreciated. A compliment, by definition, is a polite expression of praise or admiration. What better way to make a person feel like they belong?
In his book, “Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work,” Paul Marciano suggests that people are most motivated when they feel respected by their organization and feel respect for their work. The “R” in his RESPECT model acrostic stands for Recognition – providing positive feedback for work well done.
According to Gallup research, roughly two-thirds of American workers reported that they had not received any praise from a supervisor in the last seven days. Conversely, Gallup found that employees who had received recognition or praise for doing good work in the last seven days were responsible for a 10% to 20% increase in revenue and productivity.
Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.”
Be sure that your compliments are very specific, rather than a generic “good job!” Acknowledge a small improvement of a skill an employee has been striving to master. Announce that an employee’s ingenious invention has boosted the company’s revenue.
The better you know your employees, the better you will know whether they will respond best to a “public” compliment (announcement in a company newsletter, at a staff meeting, etc) or if a private setting (an email or phone call) would be more appropriate.
Passing along compliments from clients that relate to their work is another way to acknowledge that your employee’s hard work is also noticed and appreciated by others.
4. Send a hand-written thank you note in the mail.
If the spoken word isn’t your forte or the way that your employee would prefer to communicate, the written word speaks volumes.
Most recipients will appreciate the time it takes to choose a thank you card, consider what you want to say and write it down, address an envelope and put on a stamp, and drop it in the mail. These are all simple, but meaningful ways to show thoughtfulness.
5. Provide free food!
Did you know that people may be motivated to work harder for the promise of pizza than for a cash bonus?! That was the result of a fascinating experiment that Dan Ariely relays in his book, Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations. The promise of pizza actually increased productivity by 6.7 percent over a control group, with the promise of a compliment not far behind at 6.6 percent. The promise of a cash bonus increased productivity by only 4.9 percent.
Pizza isn’t everyone’s jam, though, so it’s important to know your employees’ tastes and preferences. Donuts, anyone?
6. Recognize their work anniversary.
Although this milestone comes around only once a year, be sure to acknowledge its significance. Employees want to feel recognized and appreciated for their time and loyalty to the company.
Knowing your employee will likely determine the extent to which you celebrate the occasion. At the very least, let your employee know specifically how they’ve contributed to the success of your business and how they exemplify the company values. Publicizing the milestone gives coworkers and clients an opportunity to add their gratitude for the employee.
7. Take an interest in ways they’re developing themselves outside of work.
Take the time to get to know your employees personally. Do they have kids? If so, what are their ages and their names? What about pets? Ask the same questions. What are their hobbies and what do they enjoy doing in their free time? Don’t just ask the questions, but express further interest by following up. For example, if you find out that they are going to a concert, make sure to follow up later and ask how the concert was. If they have kids, inquire about what they are doing and remember to call them by name.
Our Human Resource guru, Natalie, is a big fan of Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People“. She recommends Part 2 and Part 4 for all leaders and managers dealing with people.
8. Send flowers, just because.
Receiving a pleasant surprise can make a big impact. During an interview on The Takeaway podcast, Tania Luna stated that surprise intensifies our emotions by 400%. If we receive a positive surprise, we’ll feel more intense feelings of happiness or joy.
Flowers, however, might not be everyone’s idea of a fun surprise. This is why it’s important to get to know your employees personally and know what their interests, likes, and dislikes are (see #7!). Consider other deliveries, such as gift boxes of food or a “themed” box. Send a gift card to their favorite local spa or coffee shop.
9. Give them company swag.
Who doesn’t love a free shirt or a good water bottle? With your company logo or tagline front-and-center, company-branded merch can unite your team and give them a sense of pride. Giving a new employee company-branded products helps them feel immediately welcomed and part of a team. Studies show that a strong, cohesive internal company culture makes employees happier and more productive.
It’s pretty much guaranteed that the employees’ spouse and kids (or pets!) would love some swag, too. When they’re wearing or using the things that they love, they’re basically free walking billboards advertising your company. Win-win!
10. Ask them what they want!
With any of the above suggestions, if in doubt, get input from your employees. Don’t be afraid to straight-out ask what would make an employee feel valued.
Employees who feel valued and appreciated by their leaders are infinitely more likely to go above and beyond for the company.”
– John Hall