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Gifts That Keep on Giving
"The greatest gift is a portion of thyself." Ralph Waldo Emerson
This holiday season, businesses still recovering from a difficult economy, struggle with how to reward their employees, partners, vendors and customers for their competent service, reliability and loyalty. You certainly couldn't sustain your business without these key contributors to your success. But bonuses, big holiday parties and expensive gifts may not be an option again this year.
There are gestures you can make to reward your key contributors without incurring major expenses. These "gifts" can be equally valuable and more lasting than a one-time material reward:
Although the holidays offer a time for us to stop and think about others, showing ongoing appreciation throughout the year is incredibly valuable. Most people do need extra money during these times, but if you cannot manage a bonus, other kindnesses can mean so much.
- Hand-written notes. Our reliance today on quick, impersonal, electronic messaging, makes the personal touch of a handwritten note that much more meaningful. Time is precious to us all, and people are aware of the extra effort required to handwrite a note that reflects the recipient individually. I received one during Thanksgiving from a colleague and was very touched by it.
- Unexpected gestures. Personal gestures in place of a mass mailing will get noticed. Some ideas include, a day off for employees scattered throughout the year, inviting a vendor out for lunch or thanking a loyal customer with a special discount just for them.
- Acknowledge appreciation. With life's fast pace today, extra effort often goes unrecognized. A simple acknowledgment goes a long way. If a customer shows patience dealing with a problem, take notice and thank him/her. When a vendor goes above and beyond to solve a problem for you, show appreciation for their help instead of expressing aggravation about the problem. A great way to do this is to inform the person's boss of their exceptional service.
- Look at the whole person. It is easy for people to feel invisible these days. We are all more than the roles we play in life. As hokey as the television show Undercover Boss can be, it's nice to see CEOs discover a whole new level of appreciation as they realize the demands faced by the people who work for them. They can see firsthand their employees' work struggles, personal challenges and often unbelievable strengths. Don't lose touch with the people who support you every day. Show an interest and listen carefully to them. You may be surprised at what you learn and how your interest has a positive impact.
I hope you are the recipient of many kindnesses this season and all through the year.