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This Valentine's Day, Love Your Employees and Customers, Too

Feb 13, 2014

This Valentine's Day, Love Your Employees and Customers, Too

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and hopefully you’ve already gotten a thoughtful present for your spouse or romantic partner. But have you also thought of a way to express your love for your employees? How about for your customers?

(Before HR gets all uptight, we’re talking about platonic love here—the philos as opposed to the eros, as the Greeks would put it.)

Here are some examples of ways to express love and appreciation for your employees (including contract workers) and customers.

Don’t assume that appreciation has to be monetary. "People will never admit it, but money is not the thing they desire most from their work,” says Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man's Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and – Finally – Let the Sunshine In. “Instead, showing appreciation, respect and yes, even love, are the three most important ways to make your people feel great about their work.” That sort of appreciation can even take the place of a raise or a bonus—at least for a while. For example, write a note, perhaps including an inspirational quote that reminds you of the employee and how they work, he suggests. And in particular, make sure the note is handwritten, advises HR Voice.

As the saying goes, “catch them being good” by noticing and complimenting them on something they do well. “When someone in your organization has done something great, tell her that you noticed her outstanding work—and then tell the rest of the team, too,” writes Laura Walter. “Some employees feel that their leaders take them for granted or only point out their mistakes, so make it your daily mission to prove that perception wrong.” You could also acknowledge employees and customers on a regular basis in a newsletter or staff meeting. (The Container Store regularly celebrates February 14 as We Love Our Employees Day.) Walter and Patkin also suggest including the employee or customer’s family in the appreciation.

Another way to show love and appreciation is to keep employees in the loop of what’s going on. “Trust and good communication are the foundation stones of employee engagement, just as they are in a flourishing relationship,” writes Acas, a UK-based advisory, conciliation and arbitration service. “Managers need regularly to communicate their vision of the future and give employees a voice by listening and responding to their ideas, opinions and concerns.”

The Great Place to Work Institute has a number of other ideas, including giving each employee a blank card so they can write an appreciative note to another employee.

When you’re thinking about ways to express love and appreciation for your employees and customers, make sure you think about the kinds of people they are and how they would like to receive this love and appreciation. Some people are going to be all about the raises or gift certificates or bonuses or other cash-based recognition. At the same time, some other people prefer to be acknowledged and appreciated, and they’d love to have their accomplishments presented to the community so they can get applause. Other people would rather drop dead than be recognized in public and would appreciate a nice plaque.

Finally, keep in mind the next big holiday, which this year is celebrated on Saturday. What, you never heard of Cheap Chocolate Day?

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