• Elana Duffy

The value of valuing employees


- Stacey Ebert

Companies have many similarities to schools, only now we are all grown up. Jobs replace assignments, bosses replace teachers, and paychecks replace grades on report cards. Just as students want to impress their teachers, today it’s adult employees feeling the same about their supervisors. Valuing employees benefits all parties and might just be the secret to maintaining the best talent. Regardless of age, we all like to feel valued.

Whether it’s public or one-on-one the simple words of “thank you” are never said enough. Those who feel valued are often empowered to put in greater effort yielding better outcomes. For employers, this better outcome translates to stronger company loyalty and increased profits.

People, no matter the age, want to feel as if they matter. Employees want the opportunity to provide input, to shine, and they want to be recognized for providing value to the company. As retention and human resources experts explain, treating an employee as a stakeholder might makes the difference between retaining and replacing a critical employee. Present Tense has multiple blogs on this topic; one discusses what happens when leaders move into the background to encourage greater employee input. For a business, figuring out a way to tap into that need and find a way to show employees how valued they are will turn into positive profits. Each entity is different; but any company involving people has the opportunity to foster a feeling of value showing their employees that they matter. It may be different than that first sticker, but regardless of place in life, it’s nice to be noticed.

How to Make Employees Feel Valued:

Listen and Use Their Input: Advertising guru David Ogilvy once said “[If] each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” This does not mean that every idea from every junior employee is a game-changer. But it does mean that employees have valuable perspectives that need a forum or an outlet regardless of whether it is a general aspect of office or business life, or way to solve a problem on a project. Brainstorming sessions provide employees with a chance to voice their opinions and share their own ideas. Just as students like to be acknowledged when they raise their hands to participate in a discussion, so too do employees want to feel ‘part of the process’. By involving employees in the conversation, they are more likely to have ownership of the project and put their best efforts forward. Each idea doesn’t have to come from them, but it's often enough to know they matter.

Just Say Thank You, One to One: A classroom of thirty students varies greatly from a company of thousands, but there’s always a way to say “thank you for doing a great job” no matter how big or small the accomplishment. It doesn’t have to take a great deal of time to recognize someone, and the benefits from the acknowledgement could have a lasting impact on morale. For a personal achievement, it might be appropriate to keep the gratitude between you and the person. Perhaps it’s a quarterly email or a personal message that says, ‘we appreciate you’. Perhaps it’s a handshake or a moment to take someone aside to recognize his/her energy, efforts and dedication. It could be as simple as pat on the back. No matter the manner, the desire for recognition of a job well done never fades and a simple thank you may be enough for your employee.

Shout it from the Rooftops: Everyone, be it individual or corporation, likes to be recognized for a job well done. A social or public thank you can go a long way towards encouraging performance beyond the individual. A public commendation amidst peers or welcoming praise at annual meetings only boosts self-esteem but also reaffirms company loyalty, showcases appreciation, and increases pride for one’s work. This could be as simple as an all-hands (BCC that listserve!) email or as formal as a plaque on the wall. The Carrot Principle, as defined by HR and recognition expert Chester Elton, shows definitively that the central characteristic of the most successful managers is providing employees with frequent and effective recognition—a practice that unquestionably taps into human nature. Elton’s theory is that public recognition is useful in valuing, and thus retaining, quality employees as well as in developing the drive for such quality in others. Acknowledging exceptional work will reinvigorate other employees, thereby providing even greater output. Just as my students were always happy with that ‘Good Job’ written on top of a paper or that phone call to parents praising achievements, adults thrive on positive feedback and enjoy the acknowledgement of success among peers and extended networks.

Make a Monetary Difference: Students that put in a grand effort are often given extra credit. This ‘credit’ may take the form of points on an average, greater flexibility or even exemption from future work. The setting may change from a classroom desk to one in an office, but who doesn’t love a bonus? Bonuses can take on many forms. Perhaps it’s a one-time reward for a well-done project. Perhaps it’s a set of perks that take employees’ individual needs into consideration. Perhaps it’s an addition of time off or the freedom to choose from a list of workplace incentives. Either way, a bonus is that non-verbal decree of a job well done that all people crave. According to Forbes, it can be a critical mistake to fail in the reward of employees who are high performers. While not all companies are always in a position to provide monetary compensation, comparable bonuses should be considered for exceptional work in order to retain the best of the best.

No matter what the case, if they deserve it it’s up to you to make sure they feel valued.

Thank you.

Stacey Ebert is a former educator and event planner. She is currently making her way around the world as a travel blogger and freelance writer, with articles in Rolf Potts Vagabonding and Wandering Educator and published in American Camping Association Camping, tourism sites, Elephant Journal and more. Follow Stacey's adventures on The Gift of Travel.

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