Tuesday, October 9, 2007

10 Low Cost Ways to Show Your Employees You Really Care

It’s approaching that time of year when Wall Street starts calculating bonuses for its top performers to show their appreciation to employees for a strong quarterly performance. Many other companies will soon be digging into their coffers to shower employees with year-end rewards, gifts and bonuses. But, don’t kid yourself. These companies aren’t giving away greenbacks just to be nice. They do it to keep their best and brightest employees motivated, committed, and primed for another record-breaking quarter or year. Employers understand that bonuses and other forms of recognition build employee satisfaction and strengthen employee loyalty.

But, what about smaller companies that might not have millions of dollars to spend on performance bonuses or incentive trips for their top performers? What can you do to show your employees that you really care?

Here are my ten favorite ways any boss can show his or her appreciation to employees throughout the year without breaking the bank! How many of these fun ways are you currently using in your organization?

1. Write personal notes to thank employees for all they’ve done to make your business a success. Personal notes from the boss mean a lot to employees. Don’t underestimate their long-term value. At a retirement party for one long-term employee named Joe, he produced 32 hand-written notes from the CEO and told attendees “I’ve kept every one of your notes over the years. It’s the best present I ever got from the company!”

2. Host periodic in-office pot luck luncheons to celebrate team achievements.

3. Create a “Wall of Fame” where positive letters from customers are posted for all to see. And, be sure to personally acknowledge the work of those outstanding employees who generated the high praise from customers.

4. Provide three training days a year for every employee who meets their quarterly goal or performs above-and-beyond the call of duty. Send these high performers to a professional development program of their choice. Allowing the employee to choose his/her own training program makes it more meaningful for that employee.

5. Celebrate employees’ birthdays and special work-related anniversaries on their actual day. If the special day falls on a weekend, celebrate it on the Friday before. The point is not to wait until the end of the month to celebrate these special dates because the celebration will lose its emotional impact and goodwill if you’ve missed the actual date.

6. Twice a year, host a “Praise ‘Em” event. It can be as simple as a bowling party or lunch at the pizza parlor where you shower each person with high praise. By the way, this doesn’t replace the annual holiday party. Find at least one meaningful thing to say about each employee present and mean it! Let them know you appreciate the good job they are doing. (Yes, I know that a few of your employees might be slackers, but certainly, if you’re paying attention to their performance, you can find at least one good thing to say about their work twice a year, right? If not, they don’t belong on your team!).

7. Involve employees in key decisions that directly affect them. People have a right to participate in their future. This is a good way to treat your people with dignity and respect. Let them know they are an important part of your business success by seeking their ideas and input before you make key decisions that affect their lives.

8. Don’t keep secrets. This is what fuels the negative water cooler gossip machine. Avoid secrets at all costs because they only create an atmosphere of deception and resentment. If you are not at liberty to discuss a particular corporate decision, just tell your employees you cannot talk about that issue at this time. Otherwise, be open and truthful. This tells your employees that you respect them.

9. Give your employees the gift of a listening heart. As the boss, you should be sympathetic to the personal problems of your employees. Every employee has “issues” whether it’s a troubled teen-ager, an abusive spouse, a sick parent, or too much work and not enough time off. If you are doing your job as the boss, you should know what’s troubling your employees and be understanding and helpful in their time of need, especially family emergencies and tragedies affecting the company or an employee.

10. Stand up for what is right. Don’t be the kind of boss who cowers under the pressure of the corporate hierarchy and sells his soul for a few bucks instead of doing the right thing for his people. In the final analysis, it is more important to preserve your integrity and self-respect than to do something stupid, immoral, illegal, or hurtful. People never forget the heroic actions of a true leader. Do battle for what is right and your employees will follow you anywhere… even out the door!

These are just ten ways to show your employees that you really care. They cost very little and, in the end, you will find that you have happier, healthier, and more dedicated people working for you and creating record results!

Tom Hinton is a popular business speaker and author. He can be reached via email at tom@tomhinton.com. His website is: www.tomhinton.com

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