Quick, Easy Ways to Show Gratitude to Employees and Customers All Year Long

Thank You! Heart Text

Employee appreciation and high morale is key to successfully navigating a thriving business. If you don’t engage with your employees, or show minimal appreciation, there’s no doubt your ship will start to sink. While you should show your appreciation year round, the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, are a great time to truly show them how much they’re valued.

First off, don’t think you have to personally write out hundreds of thank you notes, although that would be quite the feat! There are many other ways entrepreneurs and CEOs can put a personal touch on their tokens of thanks. By thanking employees for a job well done, you’re reinforcing the behavior you’d like to see again. When people feel like their efforts and the hard work are noticed, they are more likely to go the extra mile in future projects.

When you’re an entrepreneur or CEO, being a leader is just part of the gig. The technical definition of leadership is a person who guides or directs a group. Leadership is all about empowering others to realize how much they’re capable of, and to be proud of it. Communicating your appreciation and belief in your employees enables them to meet your expectations time and time again.

Geil Browning, Founder and CEO of Emergenetics International, says that when you thank your employees, be prompt. Recognize the kind of effort you want to see again soon.

How to Give Thanks

Any employee would love a personal thank you note written from the CEO, but it takes time and most want it customized for them. They don’t want something that was copied and pasted from a document onto a card and printed out to the other 1,000 employees. That doesn’t show appreciation, especially around the holidays when it’s expected. What’s not expected, is the CEO taking the time to be specific about what projects or tasks the employee accomplished that were really knocked out of the park this year.

And you don’t have to do all the work yourself. Encourage your leadership team to think of something to do for their teams individually, since they work more closely with them and may know their interests better. Or you could write five notes a day until the new year and give them out to everyone at the same time.

If writing notes for each employee isn’t really feasible this year, there are other ways you can show appreciation for your employees. The easiest? Giving praise, often. Make sure you do this as soon as possible, otherwise people will think nobody paid attention to their hard work. And start right now.

“Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune,” Walmart Founder Sam Walton stated.

Other examples include awarding A-players a special parking spot, a pass for an exercise class, sticky notes, free lunch, upgrading their office space, bottle of wine, special tea or coffee, training opportunities, a post on the company’s website or social media; the list goes on and on. If you’re stuck on ideas, there are dozens of websites full of ideas that include ones that cost nothing to do. You can fine tune every token of appreciation to each individual, if you so please. The more personalization, the better!

You may have heard of Jame’s Clear’s “two-minute rule.” Procrastinators use this strategy to get them started on tasks. Clear says if something will take you less than two minutes to do, you should do it right then and trust that the motivation will follow. Usually, showing thanks takes less than two minutes, so do it when you feel it and it will go a long way.

Value Your Clients

Most likely, your business deals with clients and customers. Extending your thankfulness this holiday season will go far with those who keep your organization running. If you usually send out a standard holiday card from your business or yourself, try thinking outside of the box this year to make it more personal. Simply writing a personalized note will go miles in making clients feel more appreciated. If you know specifics about your clients, such as their favorite restaurant or musician, you can incorporate that into your gift.

Since your team most likely has more day-to-day contact with clients and customers than you do, encourage them to jot down hobbies and interests that they mention throughout the year and record them in your CRM or a Google Sheet, so come the holidays you’ll have plenty of ideas.

Giving thanks to your people who keep your business running all year long will truly go a long way. While you may not think that it makes a difference, you can be reassured that it does. Some employees value appreciation over pay increases, or time off, for example.

Getting to know your employees’ preferences can only improve your relationship with them and their loyalty to you. Showing your appreciation doesn’t have to be monetary, either. Many employees would love to receive a handwritten, personal note from their CEO to show their gratitude. Remember, don’t just give thanks around the holidays, show your employees how valued they are year round.

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