Most small business owners appreciate how valuable their employees are. Small businesses tend to live and breathe the values of the people who work there, which is why it is so important to recognize them at a special time of year.
The holiday season is fast approaching and wouldn’t it be nice if you could close up shop for a couple of weeks to take your staff of five on an all-expense paid Caribbean cruise?
Probably unrealistic for most start ups, considering the delicate nature of finances at such an early stage of a business’ life history.
You want to properly show some love for your people, yet if your cash flow will only take your recognition so far, you need some alternates that aren’t cynical or cheap, and that sincerely show your appreciation for their hard work.
If you aren’t quite ready to provide a profit-sharing scheme or to divvy up stock options, remember there is a middle ground! Consider whether some of these simple and affordable ways of honouring your staff over the holiday season will meet the need for your small business.
For example, look around your own life and see if you have a surplus commodity of value that you’re willing to share with your workers. In my case, I’m lucky enough to have relatives from Europe who ship over a once-a-year vat of pure olive oil. My gift to employees was simple but personalized (and delicious!). Each worker received a bottle of the olive oil with a personalized message of gratitude and appreciation affixed to the stylized bottle. Small details make a huge difference and the thoughtfulness was what made this gift memorable.
When in doubt, always remember the wisdom found in the expression, “It’s the thought that counts.” The most impressive gestures aren’t expensive, but they have to be thoughtful.
Time off – Allow employees time off to attend holiday concerts or a half day for shopping.
Flexible work schedules – Give your employees a chance to move their schedules around or provide some alternating flex days to cover off scheduling and resources. Also, if you notice one of your top performers shows up early and leaves late more often than not, don’t think twice about acknowledging this and offer a few afternoons off during quiet times.
Banking hours – Allow employees to bank hours for use during the holidays, or a time of their choice later in the New Year.
Staff/Family Luncheon – Plan a company luncheon to celebrate the season and build team morale in a “non-work” environment. Expense is usually not an issue for providing a few treats, some snacks and beverages, along with an innovative, inexpensive local caterer.
Gift Certificates – Consider providing gift certificates to another small business as recognition to employees during the festive season.
Personalized Notes – If resources don’t allow for some of the options above, just saying “Thank you” in a personalized note of appreciation can go a long way in letting your employees know how much you appreciate their hard work throughout the year.
Tour of Duty – If your small business has a few loyal suppliers or clients, you may wish to arrange a meet and greet tour of their space or facility. This could be a great way to develop relationships and connections, while further linking your people to the broader flow of your business.
A Recreational Outing – The Gift of Time is always valuable and nature provides a bounty of fun activity, basically for free: tobogganing, ice skating, nature hikes, snowman-building competitions…winter outdoor activities offer a long list of options. Add some hot chocolate and snacks and you’ve just created a fun team-building event where your people will bond and take away warm memories.