Want to help your employees reach their full potential and try to go above and beyond every day? Then show them that you genuinely care. And if you already do plenty of that, then consider this fact: Thirty-one percent of workers report that their bosses don't appreciate them. And guess what? Unappreciated workers are workers who won't give their all to the businesses that employ them.

When you take the time to show your people you care--in a variety of ways--they are going to be happier, more engaged in their jobs, and more productive. The bonus is that when your staff is happy, this typically leads to better customer service, too. And who doesn't want that? Here are seven ways to accomplish this.

1. Give them more than the usual.

Think outside the standard wage and benefits box you provide to your employees. Observe them at work, and see what you can do to improve their work environment and make it a more welcoming and pleasant place to be. Ask your employees what their career goals are and help them achieve them. If your company has the budget, reward outstanding performance with extra perks such as gift cards for gas, dinner at a local restaurant for your employee and a guest, or a surprise day off with pay.

2. Hire people who will play nice.

Show your staff members that you care about them by making a point to hire people who are collaborative team players and are genuinely nice. You can pick them out because they're the ones who have that easy smile and warm handshake, and they sincerely care about their co-workers and customers.

3. Get the welcome mat out.

Make sure that new hires feel welcomed. Have an existing staff member--preferably a volunteer--mentor new hires until they get on their feet, and host a welcoming party with food and beverages so that everyone has a chance to meet your new hires in a relaxed setting.

4. Show your soft side.

Show that you're more than just the boss. Show that you genuinely care about your staff members by chatting with them about things other than work. Take a genuine interest in what they do outside of work. And really listen--the simple act of reflecting back to employees what they are trying to tell you confirms to them that you really are listening and that you really do care.

5. Let them boss themselves.

Don't act like you're better than your employees. Be more of a coach to your employees than a boss. Provide as much autonomy as possible to staff members to explore new ideas and complete projects their way, not your way. Agree with your people on specific goals and outcomes, and then let them figure out the best way to attain them.

6. Always have their backs.

It is always important to have your employees' backs, even if an issue has something to do with a customer. The customer is not always right. Show the members of your team that you respect and care about them by defending them when needed. And yes, sometimes that will mean losing a customer.

7. Be considerate.

Be thoughtful about your expectations. Overloading your staff by setting the bar too high or assigning too much work within a short time frame can undermine your efforts to gain the respect of your staff and could cause your employees to shut down or even quit. And that's an outcome neither you nor your employees can afford.

Published on: Sep 18, 2014