Foxboro, MA—In a perfect world, we’d all be looking forward to the holiday season without anxiety. Unfortunately, for most employees, that isn’t even close to being the case. Times have been tough, and for several years, workers have been stretched thin as they try to do more with less. They’re feeling discouraged, tired, and perpetually stressed, and to make matters worse, many individuals are worried about the higher-than-usual personal expenses associated with the upcoming holiday season. As an employer, you might want to thank and reward your people for their hard work with a raise or holiday bonus…if only you had the funds.
While you can’t distribute money you don’t have, according to Todd Patkin, you can take decisive steps to make your employees feel happier and more appreciated. And all you have to do is tap into the Thanksgiving spirit.
“People will never admit it, but money is not the thing they desire most from their work. Instead, showing appreciation, respect, and, yes, even love are the three most important ways to make your people feel great about their work,” points out Patkin, author of the new book "Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In."
Five of Patkin’s show-the-love strategies that you can use to say “thanks for a job well done!” to any employee, any time…without spending a cent:
1. Writing and sending a thank-you note is standard practice when you receive a gift. When you notice that an individual has done an excellent job or has achieved an important goal, send a specific handwritten (not typed!) note conveying your most sincere appreciation and admiration.
“When you’re a leader, you’re busy and often overwhelmed,” Patkin acknowledges. “It’s understandable that you might overlook saying the words ‘thank you,’ much less writing them. Remember, though, that positive reinforcement and sincere gratitude will increase the respect your team has for you and will improve their opinion of your entire organization. Also, it will encourage them to likewise say ‘thank you’ more often to their own subordinates within your company.
2. Distribute inspiration. Our society tends to think of work as a place of drudgery, obligation, and boredom, as exemplified in the now-iconic movie Office Space. People certainly don’t think of receiving inspiration and rejuvenation between nine and five. According to Patkin, though, buoying your team’s spirits should be one of your daily goals. If you help them to see the world as a sunnier place and to improve their attitudes and ways of thinking about their entire lives, their professional and personal productivity will increase too.
3. Tell success stories. Even if they brush off praise or downplay their achievements, everybody loves to be recognized and complimented. When someone in your organization has done something great, tell her that you noticed her outstanding work, and tell the rest of the team, too! Whether correctly or incorrectly, many employees feel that their leaders take them for granted and only point out their mistakes, so make it your daily mission to prove that perception wrong.
4. Identify stars. According to Patkin, identifying stars is taking the concept behind telling success stories to the next level. Yes, recognize achievements whenever you see them, but also make celebrating your stars a regular event. Sure, some team members will roll their eyes at “Employee of the Week/Month” programs, but you can rest assured that no one is going to turn down this honor. “Instead of singling out just one person, you might even consider recognizing multiple individuals every month,” Patkin suggests.
5. Make it a family affair. Whenever possible, engage your employees’ families when praising them. Having a leader validate all the hours each team member spends at work will be remembered far longer than a bonus (really!). Plus, when spouses and kids know what Mom or Dad does at work and are “on board” with it, your employee’s performance will be buoyed by support from the ones he or she loves the most.
“For example, if an employee did something really tremendous, I would call his home, generally trying to get the answering machine and not a person,” Patkin shares. “Then I’d leave a voicemail like this one:
About the Author:
Todd Patkin grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wonderful wife, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter.
About the Book:
Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-9658261-9-8, $19.95, www.findinghappinessthebook.com) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and at www.findinghappinessthebook.com.