5 Small Gestures To Make Your Employees Feel Appreciated | Entrepreneur

Gene Marks
4 min readSep 15, 2023

Acts of kindness can go a long way in your organization

(This column originally appeared in Entrepreneur)

As a business owner, you’re probably wondering what you can be doing to retain your best people, particularly in today’s tight labor market.

Having a happy workforce is a surefire way to avoid employee turnover and produce a team that is highly productive. Positive relationships at work between the employee and employer are well worth the time and effort.

Here are five ways you can make your employees feel valued and respected.

1. Say happy birthday with a gift

More than nine out of 10 workers surveyed in a new study said that receiving birthday gifts makes them feel valued and loved; employers who give birthday gifts to workers have higher company morale and employee retention rates.

Acknowledging an employee’s birthday with an announcement, email or a card is appreciated, but let’s not deceive ourselves — people like gifts. So much so that, according to the survey, workers prefer that either their company or their boss spend an average of around $60 on a gift for them.

Related: Tele-Mental Health in the Workplace is Crucial to Employee Morale

2. Acknowledge milestones

Remembering an employee’s milestone — such as their work anniversary — is also very important. Payroll company ADP reports that people switching jobs currently receive about a 10% pay bump, which is almost twice the typical salary increase offered to employees who remain at their jobs.

Of course, you should be paying your employees enough to keep up with inflation. But almost as important is recognizing loyalty. Sticking at a job for two, three or even five years is a big deal nowadays. Make sure everyone knows how much you care about that.

3. Offer regular rewards

Good management regularly rewards their people for doing a good job. Rewards platforms like Bonusly, Awardco, Worktango and Motivosity have all proven to be effective, and all of these applications work in a similar manner.

Employees start a period with a points balance and are required to award these points to their colleagues based on a job well done. This way, not only managers participate; others on a team can show their appreciation to their coworkers. The points can then be exchanged at the end of a period for a myriad of benefits, including cash, paid time off, gift cards, company bling or a charitable contribution.

Acknowledging your staff’s accomplishments with a small reward can go a long way and help improve morale and retention.

Related: 5 Easy Things You Can Do to Boost Company Morale

4. Make a contribution to their favorite charity

Americans are among the most charitable people in the world, and I’m betting that most of your employees are involved in some sort of charity or non-profit organization.

Related: Your Company’s Biggest Threat Is Already Infiltrating Your Team

Showing your generosity is a great way to tell your employees that you care about the things that they care about. Offer a matching program or volunteer your staff and resources to support charities and nonprofits. Management can also set up a system where they exchange vacation with their employees for a charitable contribution.

5. Spend time with your team

Making charitable contributions and giving out cash, gifts and other perks is certainly appreciated, but there’s one thing that I’ve found is appreciated the most by employees — the boss’s time.

One of the biggest advantages of working for a small business is that employees can really feel like they’re making a difference. Unlike being at a large corporation, people at smaller companies can be part of a team where their opinions and their actions have a much greater impact on the overall success of an organization. And because there are fewer layers to the organization, they also have better access to the boss. That’s a huge perk that we often don’t appreciate.

If you’re not a big fan of celebrating birthdays and anniversaries or implementing a rewards system, try this: Spend more time with your people. Walk around the office. Chat. Invite people to lunch. Show up at a happy hour. Take an interest in their families. Talk about sports, television, Barbie or their last vacation.

Above all, engage. You don’t have to get too personal or look within the soul of a person. You don’t have to be their mom or dad. But you can be a positive role model and a supporter. People appreciate a good boss. We look for mentors. We are humans and want to connect. We feel more loyalty and a greater connection to those that we spend time with, and the better and more positive your personal relationship is with your workers, the harder you’ll make it for them to leave you.

Originally published at https://www.entrepreneur.com on September 15, 2023.

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Gene Marks

Columnist on smallbiz, economy, public policy, tech for The Guardian, The Hill, Philly Inquirer, Wash Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur. Small Business owner and CPA