Knowing how to show employee appreciation is one of the most important management skills a woman can have, as employees who feel valued are more productive and more committed to the company. In fact, as employees struggle more and more to strike a balance between their work and personal lives, and paychecks increasingly don’t stretch as far as they once did, showing your employees how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication may be more essential than ever.
Effective employee appreciation includes thoughtful, meaningful gifts, bonuses, support for professional development, and regular verbal praise. It doesn’t have to be expensive to show your employees how much you appreciate them, and if you’re a small business owner, you might actually have some leeway that managers for larger corporate organizations don’t. Here’s how you can make your team feel valued.
Take the Time to Make It Personal
Just as with personal gifts to family and friends, when it comes to employee appreciation gifts and awards, it’s the thought that counts. Take the time to get to know your employees, so that you can make your appreciation gifts personal. Present a high-performing and hard-working employee with tickets to see his or her favorite sports team or musical artist. Gift a new book from the employee’s favorite author. The fact that you put some thought into choosing an appreciation gift that will be meaningful to your employee will show him or her that you value him or her as a person, and understand the unique contributions that only he or she can make to your team.
Support Your Employees’ Professional Growth
Investing in your employees’ professional growth shows them that you’re interested in helping them become more valuable members of the workforce. When you offer your employees professional development opportunities, you’re showing them that you think they can handle more responsibility, and you’re making them more valuable to your organization. In addition to showing confidence in an employee’s abilities, professional development opportunities prepare employees for promotion.
When it comes to showing employee appreciation, never underestimate the value of simply saying, “Thanks.” It doesn’t cost your business a penny to tell an employee how much you appreciate his or her hard work on a particularly grueling day, to express that you’re proud of how an employee handled an especially stressful situation, or to recognize the finesse with which an employee has handled a hard-to-please client.
The best thing about verbal expressions of appreciation is that they can help buoy employees through the day-to-day grind, in between year-end bonuses, awards ceremonies, or appreciation gifts. Frequent and timely expressions of appreciation let employees know that you notice their hard work every day. Boost the signal by making your praise for an employee’s performance public, so that other employees get the chance to praise the high performer as well, and also so that they can see what kind of performance could get them similar recognition.
Gifts, professional development opportunities, and words of praise are nice, and they should all form part of a multi-pronged employee appreciation program that keeps employees feeling valued and recognized year-round. But, if you can afford it, bonuses tell employees that your organization recognizes their part in making the company successful.
When you give your employees part of the company profits each year, you’re rewarding them for the hard work they’ve done to grow the company that year. It’s frustrating and discouraging for employees to work hard day in and day out, even as they struggle to stretch their paychecks further with each passing year. If your employees didn’t need the money, they most likely wouldn’t be working at all; keeping them financially comfortable is the best way to guarantee that they’ll remain engaged and loyal to the company.
If you can’t afford to give a cash bonus, give stock options. If you can’t offer stock options, or you’re a small business that doesn’t offer stock, give your employees extra paid time off, flex working hours, or telecommuting options. These days, flexible hours and extra personal time are almost more valuable to employees than cash.
Where would your company be without your employees? Chances are, they’re the grease that keeps everything running smoothly, and without them, you’d get nowhere at all. Show your employees how much you value their hard work, and they’ll repay you with increased dedication and loyalty to your organization.