There's no better time of year than the approaching holiday season for company owners to roll up their sleeves and spread gratitude to the people who have contributed to the business all year long: the amazing employees who embody the culture, vision and soul of an organization.
Showing appreciation should be a regular year-long practice at any business. But the end of year is a great time to step up the expressions of gratitude and go above and beyond in saying, "I love you!" Here are five simple ways to say thank you to your people:
1. Give thanks.
For the past seven years, my partner and I compose a long "we give thanks" email to our entire company. In that email we list every single person in our organization and explain why that individual is special to us in just one sentence. Some of the remarks are funny, many are serious and all are heartfelt.
For example, "We give thanks to Michelle R. for always being a team player and being the first to sign up for community events." Our list is composed of more than 300 team members. My partner and I labor over it for two weeks and release it on the eve of Thanksgiving. We enjoy the process of writing something special about each person and our team members love reading what we wrote about everyone.
Find a way to let members of your staff know that they are not just numbers but an important part of the workplace family and that you, the business owner, care about them individually.
2. Stage appereciation events.
One great way to show your people you love them is to having parties. Throughout the year, we host parties for our team members. The best ones include their spouses and children. This sends a message that we love not just the employees but their entire families for the contribution that they collectively make to our organization. It takes a village to run an awesome company.
Every employee, every team member makes some sacrifice to be part of the organization and sometimes that sacrifice comes at the expense of spending time with their family members.
Say thanks with a company outing, a party or a huge get together that celebrates your people, their families and your organization.
3. Plan an excursion.
Organize a day off for your team. This year at the advice of my employees, I organized a holiday shopping trip to New York City (a three-and-a-half-hour drive). This simply involved organizing a charter bus and negotiating discounted pricing for the team.
I wasn't sure my sales agents and employees would be interested in this until the bus trip sold out in less than two days. It turns out that the idea of getting out of town for a day — for shopping, eating and fun — was exactly what people wanted.
What better way for an employer to show caring than to listen to what employees want and then come through with an organized day out of town.
4. Send personal notes.
Sending love and appreciation to a team member can be as simple as sending a note. I try to write five notes a day to my people. This gives me an excuse to sit down and think about who in my company deserves a pat on the back. It doesn't have to be a long letter and can simply be a note of thanks for the contribution this individual makes and your gratitude for the hard work and loyalty.
When I know that one of my team members is struggling with something in their life, then I also send along a book with my note. I'll find a book that I feel will help them through the difficult time and include a note of inspiration.
5. Help your staff show appreciation to others.
Most of my company is composed of salespeople. I own a real estate firm with 260 real estate agents and 20 staff members. One way I show appreciation is by helping members of my team express appreciation to their clients.
For the past five years we have organized a Thanksgiving-time event with a pie giveaway for the agents. The company prints up individualized marketing materials for each agent, negotiates discounted pricing on pies from a local farm and then drops the desserts at each agent's office for distribution two days before Thanksgiving.
Make it very easy for your staffers appreciate their clients — and extend the circle of gratitude way beyond the doors of the company.