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Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man's Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and Finally Let the Sunshine In, says bosses don't have to spend a cent to show appreciation.
What are ways to show appreciation that don't impact the budget?
Showing appreciation, respect, and, yes, even love are the three most important ways to make your people feel great about their work. Tried-and-true options include sending handwritten thank-you notes to employees and spotlighting employees' successes with their families, coworkers and other leaders. When you take the time to make your employees feel valued, they'll know that you care about them on a personal level, and they'll be much happier at work. When you've achieved a positive atmosphere at work, and the improved bottom line that will surely come from it, you'll feel amazing, too.
Describe other show-the-love strategies.
I would encourage business owners and managers to be creative. For example, you can couple your thank-you notes with a gas gift card, or surprise the employee by letting him or her have some paid time off. And don't underestimate the power of a pat on the back, a congratulatory handshake or even a hug when an employee has had a big win. When done correctly and appropriately, these are great ways to show appreciation.
How can families be included?
When I was running my family's auto parts business, I would call employees and leave a message on their home answering machines, to tell his family what a great job they had done. Then, I would encourage the employee's family to show appreciation, as well. In fact, years later, many employees whose families received these phone calls told me that although they didn't remember how much their bonus checks were for that year, that special homecoming was still etched in their memories. You can also include the family by rewarding the employee with a gift card to a family-friendly restaurant. If you want to celebrate a companywide success, host a picnic at park and invite everyone to bring their families for an afternoon of fun.
Describe other success stories.
When someone has done something great, tell her that you noticed her outstanding work, and tell the rest of the team, too. Often, employees feel that their leaders point out only their mistakes. Sharing individual achievements is a great way to end this perception. When I saw that one of my people did something noteworthy, I made sure all the other employees knew about it by sending the story about her accomplishment in an email to the entire chain. The highlighted employee would be happy for weeks. The bonus was that many other team members would then work harder to earn a write-up.
Twitter@DawnHouseTrib Todd Patkin, author