Employees who feel appreciated feel valued.
And when people feel valued, they're more likely to go above and beyond for the organization. They're quicker to hold themselves accountable for their part of a project. Most importantly, they're happier in their roles, which means they're less likely to leave.
When leaders disregard opportunities to connect with their team and show employees their appreciation, they lose a secret weapon in building a dedicated, long-term team.
The first Friday of every March is Employee Appreciation Day, but don't wait until then to celebrate and appreciate your most important asset. Make employee appreciation not an annual event but a daily habit.
Here are nine great ways to show your employees some appreciation:
1. Do little things that make a big difference.
Appreciation doesn't require big extravagant gestures. Send a handwritten note of appreciation, write a quick email, make a call of encouragement. Even little gestures can make a big impression.
2. Create new opportunities.
One of the best ways to win the hearts and minds of your employees is to give them as many opportunities as you can. Let them take on big challenges like a highly visible project or a new leadership role, or pick up the tab for a workshop or conference.
3. Make it personal and specific.
Be specific about your expressions of appreciation and recognition. Don't just say "good job"; give a bit of detail about what impressed you. For example, "Thanks for having the courage to speak up in the meeting. It made a big difference in breaking the ice when everyone else was too fearful to talk about the problem."
4. Show you trust them.
When you can show your employees you trust them, it sends a very important message. In essence, you're telling them their work is good enough that they don't need you looking over their shoulder.
5. Make internal improvements.
Make sure your team has the tools they need to do their job--up-to-date technology, good lighting and HVAC, and comfortable, ergonomic fixtures. Consider taking suggestions and adding extras like a break room or lounge.
6. Make time to connect.
Leaders have a lot of responsibilities, and it's easy to get caught up in your own work, without paying much attention to your team. But one of the best ways to show your employees you appreciate them is making the time to connect with them. Find out how they're doing--including their lives outside work.
7. Make mentorship part of the culture.
In almost any organization, there are newer employees who could benefit from being paired with an old hand. Whether you establish a formal mentorship program or a more casual buddy system, there's no better way to transmit helpful information and give newbies a support system right from the start.
8. Give them ownership.
A surefire way to motivate people to bring their best is to hand them the keys to a project close to their expertise and interest. If possible, let the project be based on the employee's own ideas. Not only will the employee be empowered to grow and succeed, but other employees will be inspired by seeing their colleague's creativity rewarded.
9. Be honest and transparent.
Honesty should be a given, but it's easier at some times than at others. Many people believe you shouldn't talk about the bad news, but those conversations--difficult as they may be--prove you care enough to deliver even hard truths. Truthful and transparent feedback will gain you respect and garner the best possible results.
The bottom line: Once you your employees know how much you value them, there's nothing they won't work to accomplish for you and the team.