Do This One Simple Thing to Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Employees

Giving thanks to your team builds morale and your bottom line.

We often think of giving thanks to those around us during the holidays. But giving gratitude to your employees and team members should not be a one-time event. It should be practiced year-round.

Giving gratitude is the right thing to do no matter what, but from a business perspective it's simply good business. If you make your employees happy then your customers will be happy and that makes your business happy. It also can cut down on expensive turnover and improve morale and productivity.

Makes sense, but it's not always easy to give gratitude. Some people are not comfortable giving this kind of praise, while others may think it doesn't deserve regular attention.

But it's important. Everyone at times suffers from what is often called "Gratitude Deficit Disorder"--the feeling that they get more criticism than gratitude. It doesn't help either that people are less likely to express gratitude in the workplace, according to one survey from the John Templeton Foundation.

People crave acknowledgement and the feeling that they matter and that their work is important. Begin by asking yourself-- "how are you grateful to your team?" Then tell them why you're grateful for their work on a regular basis and in a way that shows you really mean it. Always share an example of what they did for you and how it made a difference.

Here are five ways you can give thanks and foster a culture of gratitude in your workplace. They are small gestures, but can make a big impact in how you do business.

1. Write thank-you letters.

A thank you email takes seconds to write and send, but a handwritten note shows you took extra time and effort to convey your gratitude. People save thank you emails, but a written note can be hung up and displayed on someone's desk. Sending personalized thank you cards to employees and customers could be about completing a project on a tight deadline, recognizing a work anniversary or thanking a long-time customer or their continued business.

2. Celebrate milestones.

When I have run large projects, after the deadline hits, I ask my team how they want to celebrate. I find doing something fun together helps you bond with your team rather than a fancy dinner where you don't always get time with each person. Try fun outings like cooking parties, escape rooms, and painting.

 

3. Make time with employees.

Don't meet with your team and employees only when there is big business to discuss. Make them feel a part of your business on a personal level. Focus on having engaging conversations with your team or individual members monthly, or even every week, outside of the office. It could be sharing coffee or having lunch together, or even a quick video chat if they are remote. Rather than talk shop, spend time learning more about their life and experiences, so you can get an idea of their professional or personal goals.

4. Treat your employees to coffee.

In one of my businesses, I had remote workers throughout the country. In order to generate ideas and better understand their experiences working with clients, I paired them each month with different people in their location or via video conference. I purchased gift cards to Starbucks and had them go get a cup of coffee and brainstorm about ideas for the business. What did they think could be improved or added to the business? By taking them out of their day-to-day routine, I showed them that their opinions and ideas mattered.

5. Recognize people in group settings.

When you host meetings, use that opportunity to recognize certain individuals or teams. Thank you means much more to people when their peers, managers, and friends are involved. Make sure to be detailed enough in what they accomplished and have them say a few words about what they learned as well.

Giving deserved gratitude is one of the simplest, yet most rewarding, gestures you can do for your business. It not only can make you a stronger leader and sharpen your personal skills, but helps you be an overall better person. People come to work for you every day to help you and your customers live out their dreams. When you step back and take note of how much effort and care your team provides, you really take in something truly to be grateful for.

This post was originally published on Inc.com on December 20, 2017.