We’re into this wonderful, magical, and stressful holiday season. So how do you express gratitude—honest and unselfish gratitude—to your business associates?
I love this season, and I especially look forward to the movies–It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Frosty the Snowman, and even Christmas Vacation. But my very favorite movie is Pay It Forward.
If you don’t know the film, it was released in 2000 and stars Kevin Spacey, Haley Joel Osment, and Helen Hunt. It is based on a true story about a teacher (Spacey) who gave his class an assignment to devise and put into action a plan that would change the world for the better. One of the students (Osment) suggests starting a charitable program based on the networking of good deeds. He called this plan “Pay-It-Forward’, which means the recipient of a favor does a favor for three others, rather than paying the favor back.
I know that you won’t lose sight of showing thanks to your employees during this holiday season. The gesture of a holiday party can be one way of showing appreciation and thanks to your employees around this time of year. There are countless ways to demonstrate to others that they are valuable to you.
But appreciation doesn’t need to be expensive to be meaningful. And in fact, research shows that instead of going above and beyond, simply keeping your word is among the best things you can do to keep people happy.
Think about “Pay It Forward.” How can you take all the times you have been a recipient of good deeds and “Pay It Forward” with your employees?
Here are some examples to help you get started this holiday season:
Send handwritten cards: Personally writing a card by hand to each employee thanking him/her for the contributions can go a long way toward making each employee feel good about his efforts and the company.
Allow holiday music: Let your employees play a variety of tunes during the day. This can help put your employees into a festive and easygoing mood which will permeate throughout the team and to your customers.
Give gift cards: Depending on your location and employees, this could range from a gas card to a card to the local coffee or sandwich shop. They don’t have to be large amounts to make an impact on your team.
Take a team outing: Take your team to a movie or lunch and then perhaps close the office for the rest of the day. Not only will this give you time to strengthen your bonds as a team, it gives your employees additional time off at no cost to them.
Adopt a family or a nursing home patient: If you’ve never been involved in doing this, you can’t believe how emotionally gratifying this can be. Imagine bringing a cheerful moment to people who may not have many cheerful ones.
Not all of these suggestions will make sense for the culture of your office. Be careful that when you make an effort to appreciate others, you ensure they are truly engaged. As our own Robby Slaughter noted in an article here on The Methodology Blog a few years ago:
You might think you’re showing your employees you appreciate them with a small gift or a word of affirmation. But if they secretly think poorly of you or aren’t engaged in their work, the effort could backfire. Before you can effectively appreciate someone, you have a genuine relationship based on mutual respect.
Gratitude is all about thanking others for what they have done to impact your life positively. The best gift of all can be the opportunity to give back. This authentic reciprocity is priceless and always appreciated. Paying it forward can be the greatest gift of all to your employees.