When your employees meet or surpass your expectations, congratulations are in order. But lavish banquets or plaques are not necessary for informing an employee of your appreciation. Also, you don’t want your employees to think that you are expressing your approval out of obligation or tradition. Your respect should come from a place of sincerity, but it also does not have to cost a lot of money. Here are a few ways that you can demonstrate your appreciation for an employee’s job well done without going over budget or appearing disingenuous.
Flexible work hoursOne of the most difficult parts about working a full time job — with the same hours every weekday — is that those hours are always booked. These also happen to be the hours that most other people are working, including at places where you might need to run some errands, such as the doctor’s office or the bank. The doctor’s office, in particular, is difficult to schedule while working a full-time job. Depending on your doctor, there may only be a handful of appointments available each month and these hours may conflict with your work schedule. Your employees might also want to visit their children’s school once in a while as a room parent. It’s hard to know exactly what your employees are passing up or doing scheduling gymnastics to fit in. Therefore, if you are flexible with their hours, it can be the most appreciated and practical reward you can bestow. You shouldn’t allow just any employee to have the luxury of taking a few hours off (and making those hours up later). If you give this indulgence to the entire office, the lazier workers will almost certainly take advantage of it. But if someone has verified their hard work and concern for the company’s well-being, there is no reason they shouldn’t enjoy more leniency.
Handwritten thank you lettersIn our modern world filled with email, text, twitter and the like, we are connected to the rest of the world in a way unprecedented in human history. You no longer even need to walk to an employee’s cubicle to have a conversation. You can just send her an instant message. It’s fast, efficient and non-disruptive. But it is also cold and dull. You can send your employees a quick “thank you” when they accomplish something simple and small. For the larger projects—more ambitious in scale and greater in importance—you should write handwritten thank you letters. The art of writing letters is deteriorating in modern life. But if you opened your mailbox and found a handwritten letter, as opposed to merely solicitations and bills, you would be thrilled—and so will your employee.
Provide networking opportunitiesA cake, although thoughtful and kind, won’t do much to help your employee’s career along, especially for younger workers. The most difficult thing about establishing yourself in a career is the frustrating fact that you need experience to get coveted jobs and you need coveted jobs to get experience in the first place. This applies to many fields. One way to break down certain roadblocks is through networking. Since you are clearly higher up in your career than those you supervise, consider introducing them to other key players in your field. You don’t need to convince your contact of this worker’s importance. That’s his job. But, then again, since he demonstrated his importance to you already, he can demonstrate it to your contact. If one of your workers has helped your career along with remarkable effort, you should return the favor in a manner appropriate to your station as their supervisor. Everyone’s trying hard to make it in the world. Any bit of assistance is greatly appreciated.