In a world of media that likes to feature cool workplaces with people playing ping-pong, sliding down slides, dining at in-house food courts, it may seem a little intimidating to compete when it comes to showing appreciation to your employees. However, research has proven that the very things they really want, don't involve high-priced toys at all.
Provide them clear direction and understanding of priorities. With all of the busyness of day-to-day effort, make sure that you establish good communication and reporting routines that keep everyone on the same page, and understanding what is most important to meet the needs of your customers. Don't misunderstand this to be a series of meetings; actually, just the opposite. Consider a more efficient system of web-based project management tools, a simple chart on the wall, or brief call or huddle (no more than five minutes).
Ask for their input. In many businesses I have had the privilege to work in, I continue to be surprised at the number of employees who truly care about what is best for both the customer and the business, however have no say in how that happens on a day-to-day basis. Let's face it; the people doing the work most often have the best ideas to improve the process. Ask, don't just tell. Respect their experience and opinions; after all, that's why you hired them. You will be surprised at what amazing things can happen!
Offer and support opportunities for personal & professional growth. Your team members joined your organization because they saw something they liked and wanted to be a part of. If they had all the same knowledge and capabilities that you do, they would be your competitor, not your employee. Look for ways to build their capabilities by allowing them to work on new projects, try and test new technology tools, and attend webinars, workshops and other special events.
"What You Allow, You Approve."
Create a culture of internal customer service & accountability. While it's wonderful to tell your team members that you appreciate what they do, what you do not say and do can actually be more harmful than you realize. Having clear job requirements is great, however, when employees are not held accountable when they do not perform as required, everyone suffers; particularly those employees who are performing. What you allow, you approve; whether you realize it or not. Lack of timely and appropriate action can make your team feel unappreciated as well and have a critical impact on overall team and business performance. Create and implement consistent performance management routines, to insure accountability with all employees.
Believe me, implementing these simple steps will be better than any cool toy you can put in your office. It will improve employee & business performance and help retain top performing employees.