Valentine’s Day is usually reserved for showering love on your special someone. But if you’re in a leadership position, you probably already know that your employees could use some love too.
In the day-to-day battle of business, you may have developed a perpetually stressful atmosphere in which your employees have been asked to do more with less—often with little thanks. Raises and bonuses may not be an option but you can make your people happy in other ways. And, what better time than Valentine’s Day to show them the love?
“Showing appreciation, respect, and, yes, even love are the three most important ways to make your people feel great about their work,” said Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In. “And happy, engaged employees are the single best way to impact your company’s bottom line.”
Furthermore, Patkin adds that if your employees are perpetually stressed out, they’ll be less motivated and more disengaged. And when they’re unhappy, they’ll do only what they must to avoid chastisement…and you’ll lose money in the long term. Also, they’ll be more likely to start looking for a new job elsewhere.
“If there is one thing I would like to tell all leaders at all levels and in all industries, it’s that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain—including an improved bottom line—by making your organization as happy a place to work as possible.”
Here are five of Patkin’s show-the-love strategies:
Send “love” notes.
Writing and sending a thank-you note is standard practice when you receive a gift. And what is great work other than a gift from your people to you? When you notice that an individual has done an excellent job or has achieved an important goal, send a specific handwritten (not typed!) note conveying your most sincere appreciation and admiration. This will take only one sheet of paper and five minutes out of your day…but it’ll make a lasting impression on your employee.
Our society tends to think of work as a place of drudgery, obligation, and boredom, as exemplified in the now-iconic movie Office Space. People certainly don’t think of receiving inspiration and rejuvenation between nine and five. According to Patkin, though, buoying your team’s spirits should be one of your daily goals. If you help them to see the world as a sunnier place and to improve their attitudes and ways of thinking about their entire lives, their professional and personal productivity will increase too. Share a quote or a story.
Tell success stories.
Even if they brush off praise or downplay their achievements, everybody loves to be recognized and complimented. When someone in your organization has done something great, tell her that you noticed her outstanding work, and tell the rest of the team, too! Whether correctly or incorrectly, many employees feel that their leaders take them for granted and only point out their mistakes, so make it your daily mission to prove that perception wrong.
According to Patkin, identifying stars is taking the concept behind telling success stories to the next level. Yes, recognize achievements whenever you see them, but also make celebrating your stars a regular event. Sure, some team members will roll their eyes at “Employee of the Week/Month” programs, but you can rest assured that no one is going to turn down this honor. As a special treat for Valentine’s Day, you may want to recognize your entire team.
Make it a family affair.
Whenever possible, engage your employees’ families when praising them. Having a leader validate all the hours each team member spends at work will be remembered far longer than a bonus. Plus, when spouses and kids know what Mom or Dad does at work and are “on board” with it, your employee’s performance will be buoyed by support from the ones he or she loves the most. Send a note or leave a message on the family’s voicemail.
Todd Patkin grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wonderful wife, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter.
Category: Recruit & Retain