How often have we heard some company owner or representative declare, “Our employees are our most valuable asset?” Some companies have even adopted this claim as their byword. In this era of more-than-full employment and a growing shortage of qualified job applicants in virtually every industry, those words have now become a reality. The unfortunate fact, however, is that few companies, their owners, their managers or supervisors have taken that claim to heart. Despite the increasing difficulty and expense of recruiting and retaining suitable employees, little effort has been made by most employers to actually demonstrate that they truly value those “assets.” In all but a few workplaces it remains work as usual, with little if any effort made to show genuine employee appreciation.

While wages are finally trending upward, largely due to the competitive job market, the recent tax overhaul and state-mandated minimum wage increases, it isn’t always a matter of more money that makes employees feel appreciated. Even today, surveys show that most managers and supervisors believe that what matters most to employees are the tangible things such as wages, benefits and promotions. Yet studies have for years confirmed that what is actually most important to the majority of employees is having a boss that genuinely cares about them – one that is fair and makes them feel a part of the company.

What should companies do?

So how does a small business owner, plant or department manager, or even a supervisor create that employee goodwill and a caring workplace culture? Trite as it may seem, an occasional “Good morning,” “Thank you for staying late yesterday” or “I really appreciate your extra effort in completing that project so quickly” and similar sincere remarks can make a world of difference in how employees feel about their company and management. Over the many years that I have worked with employers, the most successful managers I have known were those who every day made their employees their paramount concern. How is that done? Most of the time, it is easier than you might think.

Giving daily attention to your employees and their concerns is critical and requires a sincere effort. But, it is obviously not the only way to show that as their employer, you truly appreciate what they do to make the company a success.

One employer I know implemented something that has been around for years – an incentive program. The company rewarded theproduction line with the best numbers for the month with a chicken luncheon – as well as additional time over lunch to enjoy the meal. In addition, they were joined by the entire management team. This simple and well-known method of rewarding employee productivity created such a competition between the production lines that by year’s end plant productivity was up over 8 percent. Here something seemingly small and low cost paid off in a big way. The company was so pleased with the results that they are exploring other similar steps to demonstrate their gratitude for the employees’ efforts in 2018.

Making it happen

The ways in which to show appreciation for your employees and all they do are only limited by your imagination. Any effort you make, large or small, is effort well spent. Something as simple as resolving to have everyone in management and supervision make a point of regularly and sincerely thanking their employees for what they do can make a real difference. Singling out employees who have made a difference in front of their peers is another small gesture that speaks loudly to all.

A genuine and caring employee focus will go a long way in helping you retain satisfied and productive employees. All that it requires is your decision to make it happen.