Making your people feel appreciated and empowered at work is one of the best things you can do as a leader or a business owner. As the billionaire chairman and founder of Virgin Group highlights his leadership style, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Many may disagree with such practice, but Branson’s group of companies worth billions of dollars have grown enough to prove the effectiveness of this strategy. If he can do it, then so can you!
How can YOU celebrate your employees?
This has been around for years or even decades but has been heightened as many companies have encouraged remote work this year. Leaders may choose to recognize an employee’s performance or contribution through an email while copying team members or executives who may also acknowledge the employee’s efforts. If other team members or the executive members respond, it will be collective recognition. The more people that recognize the employee, the better! However, if emails seem too formal, some may opt to send it through their group chats through Microsoft Teams, or even a text/group text through WhatsApp. Choose the most appropriate and frequently used messaging platform by the individual, team, and executives. Whichever platform you decide on, it is important to reach the target employee.Simple yet so effective “pat-on-the-back” statements can change your employee’s day all because of your words.
2. Incentives and Rewards
May it be monetary or experiential, employees would feel appreciated by such gestures. Cash incentives may require approval from the higher management and could take time, but you would be happy to know that employees are more than willing to wait. In other instances, employers provide vouchers, coupons, or gift certificates instead of money. They could still enjoy it anyway. Employees who love movie passes or food coupons would enjoy these a lot. Employers may also allow employees to have dinner for two (or anything relevant) and have the expense reimbursed. Make sure to give them a budget cap!
Companies have different programs and practices in celebrating special occasions – it would depend on the organizational culture, allotted budget, and probably, tenure. One of which would be giving birthday cards and cakes when employees celebrate their birthdays. At other times, the leader and team members may choose to pitch in to surprise the employee with a gift. This is also applicable during employment anniversaries. Some companies send email blasts or recognize the employee through LinkedIn about the special day. Always be aware of employees’ (or at least the ones in your team) special occasions so you can plan things out in advance to celebrate it with them or prepare something nice for them.
4. Hellos and Goodbyes
Aside from recruiters and HR, leaders play a huge role in welcoming new members and the company. The first few weeks of an employee with his new company are critical as it is when newbies make an impression of the company and decide if they want to be part of it in the long run. Make sure onboarding goes as smoothly as possible! First impressions do last.
On the other hand, employees who have expressed their intention to move on from your team (or company) should also be given enough attention. Do not burn bridges. Make sure and be of assistance to the employee so they can leave on a positive note. The least you can do is wish them well in their new journey and give them a proper send-off.
5. Group Bonding
Great morale booster for employees to be rewarded upon achieving a team goal. Who better to enjoy rewards with but the people you work closely with, right? This works best with a supportive and collaborative team. The leader can choose from many options to enjoy group activities. Some go for team lunches or dinners-out. Others are into laser tag or visiting amusement parks. Endless opportunities to bond with the team! This is an opportunity for you to get to know your team on a more personal level and to allow them to let their hair down.
Oftentimes, leaders would prefer to make decisions or devise a strategy on their own. After which, they share it with the team so they can brainstorm and work on task delegation. In other instances, leaders ask the opinion of employees. As simple as, “What do you think?” This makes employees feel valued as the boss is relying on them – not just a teammate! It makes their voices heard and ideas valued. You do not always have to go with their suggestions but giving them a platform to be heard is more than they can ask for. Leaders should also ask for feedback because employees may have things to say but are not comfortable in doing so. They wait for opportunities. Why not give them? Who knows? Maybe they can help you improve your work or in dealing with your customers.
And not to worry, you don’t have to do everything alone!
Who can help YOU?
1. Your Team
They are the people who spend most of their time together. They can let you know what they want, what works for them, and how you can make them feel appreciated. Take time in getting to know your team, and allow them to get to know you, too.
These are the decision-makers. Let them know your employee’s contributions and see if they can approve of a token of appreciation. This allows them to see the employee’s value, and it puts you in a good light in front of your employee by making it happen. Win-win!
3. Human Resources
Not so confident in motivating your employee? Not so creative? Not your leadership style?
Not a problem! You may ask HR for some tips in engaging and retaining employees – it’s what they do on a much larger scale minus the leadership responsibilities. Sounds good? I hope so! After all, employees stay longer and work better if appreciated at work. No harm in trying.