As a small business owner, you probably pride yourself on the personal touch your business offers to customers. You convey to the world a business that's attentive, down-to-earth and in every way opposite from cold, corporate giants.
You just may not be sending the same message to your own employees.
According to Baudville's employee recognition blog, 39% of employees don't feel they receive the appreciation they deserve at work. In turn, 67% of employees named manager praise as their greatest incentive for working harder and with a better attitude.
Even without statistics, though, you know as a business owner that happy employees provide better service to customers, and customers who feel they receive great service are more loyal to the business that provides it. By this logic, you also know that starting this chain of loyalty between you, your employees and your customers starts with making your workers feel appreciated.
There are many ways to show appreciation to your employees, but one of the simplest and most genuine is to write them notes by hand.
All aspects of life have been largely affected by the rise of the digital age, and while this has made communication amazingly more far-reaching and efficient, it has also caused a great loss.
Emails, texts, Facebook messages and the like have now become so ubiquitous that it can be overwhelming just to open your inbox. Think, for example, of a business contact who constantly interacts with you via email. Every time you see a message from them, you probably brace yourself, wondering whether today's news will be good or bad.
If, after bracing yourself as usual one day, you open the message to discover a simple, electronic thank you, you'd probably feel relieved. Relieved. You'd be glad to see that the sender wasn't asking anything of you, and yes, you'd be glad to have that moment of recognition — but then you'd get right back to sifting through the rest of your endless emails.
Is this the feeling you want to give your employees when you try to show appreciation?
The correct answer is no. Employees should feel valued, not relieved, when they receive an appreciative gesture from their boss. That's why handwritten notes pack such a punch. If you were to receive a card in the mail from your business contact, you'd be intrigued by this unusual development, not bracing yourself for bad news. Upon opening the card to see a personalized, handwritten note, you'd probably take a moment to marvel at the kind gesture.
This is what true appreciation looks like, and this is the feeling you want your employees to have.
There are two main genres of notes you should consider using in the office: the informal work note and the special occasion greeting card.
An informal work note can be as simple as leaving a Post-it on Steve's desk after he gives a presentation, saying "Good job on that presentation today! You rocked it."
A special occasion greeting card is perhaps a more traditional way of showing appreciation. By sending Susan a birthday card each year with a quick handwritten note inside, you tell her that not only does her birthday matter to you, but you also care enough to buy the card and put some thought into the message inside.
Using either — or, even better, both — of these types of notes reminds your employees that you are not a faceless, disconnected corporate manager.
Rather, you're creating for them the feeling that you're all something of a "work family." You recognize and appreciate their work, care about their well-being and are a real person.
As an added bonus, there's a wide variety of specialized greeting cards you can take advantage of in your appreciation-showing endeavor. The more specialized the notes you send, the more connected your employees will feel to you and your business.
One small warning: Even if you feel you have a "fun office," remember to use your common sense. Not everyone celebrates the same holidays or appreciates certain types of humor. Know your audience, and make sure you're staying professional.
As a small business owner, you do have an advantage over large corporations. You have better opportunities to get to know your workers and thereby give them the individual attention and appreciation they deserve.
In addition to increasing employee and customer loyalty, writing notes by hand benefits you on a personal level as well. Doing so gets your creative juices flowing, gives you a chance to have fun with your employees and makes you feel generous.
So, if you want to benefit your company, your workers, your customers and yourself, try appreciating your employees in this simple but effective way.
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