Dr. Cindy McGovern offers five meaningful ways employers can say “thank you” to their staffs during the holidays and throughout the year.
A holiday party for employees is a nice touch as the year winds down, and nobody ever turned down a big bonus as a reward for doing a good job month after month. But the best way a business leader can say “thank you” to valuable employees might not have anything to do with parties, money, or gifts.
The most meaningful way to show a hard-working, loyal staff that you truly value and appreciate them is to listen to them and respond when they have ideas, complaints, and personal struggles.
Here are five ways to show your gratitude to employees this season and all year round.
Solicit their ideas
When former PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico sent a video to the corporation’s thousands of employees saying they should “take ownership of the company,” janitor Richard Montanez took it seriously. He pitched Enrico an idea for a new product that he created by dusting the company’s popular Cheetos with chili powder instead of cheese powder. The result: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are among the company’s top sellers, and Montanez, who never went to college, is a marketing executive worth millions.
Montanez didn’t set out to create a goldmine snack. In fact, he was just trying to salvage a pile of Cheetos rejects that had come through a malfunctioning machine without any cheese dust so his family could eat them.
But Enrico gave Montanez the same attention and respect he gave to the corporation’s product development team. Now, Montanez is one of the company’s most-enthusiastic ambassadors.
Let them solve problems
At Audi, two maintenance workers noticed the ventilation system in the car maker’s buildings ran overnight even though no employees were present. They suggested switching the ventilators off after 10 p.m. and saved the corporation $122,000 a year.
Audi has an employee suggestion program that encourages workers to find and correct waste in their own areas. The approach saved the company more than $40 million in 2017 alone.
Employees who save the company money win a financial reward.
Accommodate personal needs
Managers who bother to get to know their employees understand that they occasionally have a need for extra time off, an alternative schedule, the ability to work from home or another accommodation because of family obligations.
Companies as large as GE and as small as a five-employee contracting company are agreeing to flex hours to help out their employees—and to boost their ability to recruit newcomers.
In a USA Today survey of 520 hiring managers, 44 percent said their companies are allowing flexibility as a way to attract and retain employees.
Reward them for good deeds
Hardee’s presented a 17-year-old employee with a $1,000 check simply because he offered his arm to an elderly customer who was walking to her car with the aid of a cane. He was washing the store’s windows at the Knoxville fast-food restaurant when he spotted the customer, who told the news media that she felt “a little touch of heaven” when she took the teenager’s arm.
The owner of a McDonald’s franchise in Florida told news media that an employee who jumped out of a drive-thru window and ran in front of a coasting car to help stop it is “just that kind of guy” after the heroic act went viral on the internet. A customer had lost consciousness while placing her order, allowing the car to drift forward with screaming children in the backseat.
Allowing staff members to react according to their own consciences and then rewarding them when they do can encourage more helpful behavior—and get the company some positive publicity in the process.
Involve them in service projects
Businesses that give back to the community are as popular with their own employees as they are with the recipients of their charity.
“Purpose has become something of a corporate buzzword in recent years,” author and engineer Christoph Lueneburger wrote in Harvard Business Review.
To that end, businesses are engaging employees in community service projects, which, Lueneburger wrote, engages employees, makes them proud of their employers and helps to retain them.
He pointed to American Standard, which launched a program to donate sanitary latrine covers to poor communities with no plumbing. Its sales increased 62 percent in the 20 months following the launch, and employee involvement skyrocketed by 180 percent.
A tip: Whatever you do to say “thank you” to your employees, make it last all year. The holiday season is the traditional time to show your appreciation, but don’t make it the only time.
DR. CINDY MCGOVERN is known as the “First Lady of Sales.” She speaks and consults internationally on sales, interpersonal communication and leadership, and is the author of the Wall Street Journal business best-selling book, Every Job Is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
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