As we celebrate and look at gratitude this month, I was inspired by a recent act of Gratitude at work from Spanx founder Sara Blakely who announced last week that she is giving employees two first-class plane tickets and $10,000 to spend on their trip after Spanx announced a deal with private equity firm Blackstone. I have been a long time Sara Blakely fan, inspired by another story I heard from her years ago about her father encouraging her to fail - it was a huge help for me reframing my perfectionism. It got me thinking about gratitude in the workplace and some of the best practices for showing gratitude to your employees. It also inspired me to write a piece about some of the gratitude I’ve experienced as an employee, particularly at Smudge. As folks return to work and business discuss having trouble hiring (hint - pay more and provide benefits), gratitude is important for employee wellbeing and retention.
Four Keys to Gratitude to keep in mind according to an article on How Gratitude Can Transform Your Workplace by Kira M. Newman - that I think really helps set the tone for how to appreciate your employees.
1. Gratitude is about the whole person
2. Gratitude isn’t one-size-fits-all
3. Gratitude must be embraced by leaders
4. Gratitude has to be part of the culture
With that in mind, here are some ways that you can show your employees that you are grateful for what they are doing and who they are.
Money (Cash or Equity)
Most working folks can always use more money. It’s universal currency and can be used to treat yourself or pay off that bill, whichever takes priority in your employees life. We often don’t know what is going on with folks when they leave the office or what they may need and showing them gratitude with some unanticipated income could be game changing for them. Maybe they just had car troubles and had no idea where the money was going to come from. Or maybe they want to take themselves out for dinner or buy themselves something nice. If your company is really thriving and they’ve been apart of that, when it’s time to go public, gift them some equity.
Take your employees out for a meal together or send them a meal at home. Breaking bread together can let people bond and nourish their bodies and spirits. It lets people know that you are thinking about them and care about them beyond just their ability to produce. It also gives you a chance to get to know your employees in a different and more relaxed setting.
Staycation (Or Vacation if your budget allows)
Treat your employees to come quality self reflection time with a staycation in their area. If you need to space it out in the budget, gift each employee on their work anniversary or if you are ballin’ like Sara Blakely after working her butt off, then treat them all with 2 round trip tickets anywhere and $10,000 - I think very few people would complain about that as a Holiday Bonus.
Let your employees continue to work remotely if possible, or if someone has worked extra hours, let them know to come in late the next day. It lets people know you trust and appreciate them and notice the extra time they have put in. Making your employees feel seen is a huge step towards making them feel appreciated.
Sometimes your employees are also your best customers and work for the company because of their love and passion for what you are selling or doing. Gift them with something they will love and enjoy. Not something promotional or that screams I WORK A X COMPANY but something that speaks to how much you value them that they will truly use with pleasure. Some of my favorite crystals are the ones that Smudge has sent me and I think of how lucky I am to work for such a great company that appreciates me when I work with them. I know it sounds cheesy, I feel cheesy writing it but it’s still true lol.
Whole employees make the best employees so make sure that you have a robust benefits offering that include mental health and wellness. If you do have an office, bring in a masseuse from time to time for chair massages or bring in a crystal healer to give them a new stone or other wellness activities.
Plan an annual retreat or summit
If you have the ability to do so, plan an annual retreat for your company. Survey your employees and ask where they would like to go or what kinds of activities they would like to do during the retreat. Consider making it an annual event, especially if your team is remote to create team bonding. A former company I worked for did an annual summit where we connected, dissected what was working and what wasn’t, and ate and drank all around town. The company was based around Food and Beverage so it was nice to be able to see what they were doing in our HQ city and connect with other City managers each year and share solutions.