Show your employees a little love and appreciation. It’s easier than you think.
For many small businesses, including ours, the single biggest business expense may be the employees. At BBR, we strive to offer the most generous employee benefits package we can afford: in addition to salary, we offer profit-sharing bonuses, health insurance coverage, a 401K match, and paid time off (sick and vacation). The cost for covering these benefits, not to mention payroll taxes, can sometimes be overwhelming and downright scary. Still, I’m always trying to come up with small, inexpensive ways to show our appreciation for a job well done or to highlight an individual’s superior performance. Through the years these are some of the ways we’ve shown our employees a little extra love, without a lot of extra expense.
• Recognition Awards
A few years ago, we began giving “Dinner & a Movie for Two” awards to any employee who impressed either the owners or a colleague. These awards are usually given for extraordinary client service, going above and beyond what is asked, or just generally showing a kick-ass BBR attitude. The D&M42 award is a $25 gift card to The Grand and a $75 gift certificate to the restaurant of the winner’s choice. That way, an outstanding employee gets to take his/her significant other to dinner and a movie, and brag about how awesome they are at the same time. It’s a definite win-win for all.
• Birthday Car Washes
BBR has a regularly scheduled car wash service that comes every two weeks to clean cars in our parking lot. BBR treats any employee to two free car washes during their birthday month. While it may sound insignificant, ask any of our employees and they’ll tell you how exciting it is to get out of work to a clean car!
• “Bonus Friday”
As an owner’s perk, the partners alternate Fridays off (which we adore by the way). I get the first Friday of the month, Cherie the second, and Cathi the third. That left the fourth Friday open. The employees suggested we give each of them the fourth Friday off (in rotation, of course) and we agreed. So now each employee enjoys a “Bonus Friday” off in rotation, simply for being a loyal BBR employee.
• Random Comp Days & Extra Holidays
Our employees seem to love time off. I mean they really, really love time off. With such a diverse group of creative individuals, this is the one common trait that they all share. The partners randomly give comp days off for spectacular performance – and boy, do these gifts of appreciation go over well. A few years ago we were able to close the office in between Christmas and New Year’s and the comments of appreciation were really amazing. It was like they had won the lottery – or at least a large sum of money!
The following year we were not able to close the office for those extra five days because of the workload, but we have made a commitment that we will seriously evaluate the ability to offer this additional paid time off whenever we possibly can.
Don’t get me wrong, our employees like monetary rewards too. But it’s been my experience as a business owner that money is not always the right reward for showing appreciation. Think creatively and open yourself to new ideas. Open recognition for a job well done and small rewards go a very long way toward employee satisfaction. I mean, who doesn’t like getting two free car washes to help celebrate their birthday month?