6 Easy & Effective Ways To Show Your Employees Appreciation

If you’ve watched any of our Power Business Minute videos or read any of our articles in the past, you know that we strongly believe that your employees make or break your company. They’re the face of your company, an extension of you, and if they’re overworked, under-appreciated, and unhappy in their work, that will come across in their interactions with your clients.

Not only that, but the research shows that the number one reason most American workers leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. Finding good employees is hard enough — wouldn’t you rather keep them once you find them? We thought so. And that starts with appreciation.

March 1st is Employee Appreciation Day, which means now is a good time to sit back, reflect, and assess if and how you make your employees feel appreciated. What can you be doing to make your employees feel appreciated March 1st, and every day of the year?

#1 Buy the team lunch.

The saying is, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” But as a foodie myself, I can confidently say that saying doesn’t just apply to men. After all, who doesn’t like being treated to a delicious and free meal? By treating the team to lunch, you’re saving your employees money, making them feel cared for, filling their bellies, and encouraging fellowship. It’s a win across the board. In fact, the only way this can backfire on you is if some of your employees have special dietary restrictions and you don’t take that into consideration.

For example, if you’re ordering BBQ for the office, you need to make sure you have something tasty for the vegetarians, pescatarians, or vegans in your office (if you have any). Are a lot of your employees riding the Keto wave? Don’t bring in a carb fest as your “reward.” In other words, be thoughtful. It doesn’t have to get complicated, especially not if you know your employees, which brings us to our next tip.

#2 Get to know your employees and take interest in their lives.

One thing that will make your employees feel especially appreciated is if you take interest in them and their lives outside of work. Ask about their family, their pets, their hobbies. Yes, it requires some extra effort on your part, but it communicates something to them: that you care about who they are and how they’re doing.

A lot of bosses think of their employees as cogs in a machine, and they make it abundantly clear. They have no interest in getting to know the people doing the work, they just want the work done. How loyal do you think an employee will be to a boss like that? How satisfied do you think they’ll be with their job when they’re viewed as a cog in a machine?

This type of mindset may have worked for managers past, but that’s not the way to build a loyal, happy, and productive team in this day and age. Millennials and Gen Zers won’t put up with it. So if you want to have a business when the older generations age out of the workplace, you need to take interest in the people working for you.

#3 Recognize good work regularly & publicly.

Hard work has its own rewards, but one thing that can make your employees feel appreciated all year long is being recognized for the hard work they do for your company. Some studies report that nearly 70% of employees would work harder if their efforts were better appreciated.

“Global research conducted by the Cicero Group shows that employees receiving strong performance recognition are much more likely to be highly engaged at their job, and as a result, likely to perform at their maximum output and develop innovative ways to improve their company.” Cicero specifically found that “well-recognized employees have more drive and determination, better work relationships, improved personal standing, and stronger connections to their company.” In other words, by recognizing good work regularly and publicly, you can boost the morale, productivity, culture, and loyalty of your team.

Here at Spark Marketer, one way we show appreciation and recognize people for their hard work is through Slack, which we use for internal communication. We have a channel called“#FTW,” which stands for “For The Win.” In this channel, anyone can publicly recognize a “win” or a job well done at any time. There’s no need to wait around for a specific meeting — recognition is given immediately, publicly, and regularly. The recognition in the FTW channel can come from peers and leaders in the company, which trains us all to be more appreciative of each other and to recognize quality work when we see it.

It’s really a win for everyone.

#4 Give gifts and awards for a job well done.

Here at Spark Marketer, we also have monthly meetings, during which we give out awards: the “Do Epic Sh*t” award and the “Not Today, Satan” award. The employee receiving the award is recognized for the work they’ve done, and given a trophy to keep on their desk for the entire month. This award acts as a public symbol and reminder that their work does not go unappreciated or unseen. It’s motivation to continue doing good work, day in and day out.

Trophies aren’t the only options for showing appreciation. You can also give out small gifts, like lottery tickets, gift cards, and of course, time off. Get to know your employees, figure out what would have the most meaning to them, and budget it in. Don’t think of it as “just another expense” that you’d rather not have; keeping your employees happy will have serious ROI, so make it a priority.

#5 Ask for their input.

We’ve all had that one friend who seems to love talking about their problems, but never wants or heeds any advice. Sometimes being in those kinds of friendships can feel like being asked to step into a boat that’s full of holes, without being given the option to first plug the holes. Maybe this allegory is a stretch (my mom says mine usually are), but your employees might be feeling like they’re in a boat filled with holes they know how to plug — if only someone would ask them.

The truth is, when we’re asked for our opinions, it makes us feel valued and, you guessed it, appreciated. How often do you ask for your employees’ opinions and feedback? When they provide it, do you really listen? Consider adding a company-wide suggestion box or having 1-1s or lunch meetings with each of your employees. Hear them out, ask them what they would change or do differently, and find out how they see the company growing.

It may not make sense to implement every suggestion they share with you, but just being asked, being heard, and being considered a valuable member of the team with valuable contributions to make will go a long way towards making your employees feel appreciated and invested in the company. Whether you’re looking to improve every day operations, make big changes, or plan the year ahead, take the time to involve your team.

#6 Get together for company-wide events and celebrations.

Just because we work together, doesn’t mean we necessarily get to spend much quality time with our coworkers. So how can you foster a sense of community and celebrate your employees at the same time? By organizing company-wide events and get-togethers.

Here at Spark Marketer, we fly our remote employees in at Christmas time for a company holiday party. We just hang out, play some games, do some sort of gift-exchange, share food and drinks, and have a grand, ol’ time. There may not be a clear-cut ROI in terms of profit for the company, but it’s worth every penny.

The sense of community, appreciation, and purpose that these types of events foster is one of the biggest drivers for Millennials and Gen Zers, and it reminds them that they’re a part of something bigger than just the tasks they perform from 9-5. It reminds them that they’re part of a team, working towards the same goals, and that together, we can all do some pretty epic sh*t.

Quick Tips On Using Video On Your Social Media Channels

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Quick Tips On Getting Reviews For Your Business

Do you feel like you and your team know the value of reviews, but have some discomfort around asking for reviews? Our very own Chris Pitts has some helpful tips to make getting reviews easier and less stressful.

The Benefits Of Offering Health Care Benefits

The Benefits Of Offering Health Care Benefits

Determining whether not to it makes sense for your business to offer health care to your employees is a big decision, and by no means a one-size-fits-all decision. Obviously no blog post can make the choice for you, but here are some of the perks of offering health care benefits in the workplace:hands-holding-tablet-with-word-healthcare

  • It’s attractive to those looking for a career. When people are looking for a job, pay is often the most important factor. But the best workers — the ones who are looking for a career — want a place that offers them more. Health care is expensive, and when you’re thinking about where you want to stay and build your career, you want to make sure you’ll have what you need to provide for yourself and your family. Yes, pay rate is still important, but without our health, what good is that extra money? When it comes down to it, if another company is offering a similar pay, health insurance can be the difference between you getting that great employee or someone else getting him or her.
  • You can lessen the financial worries and stresses of your employees. Even if you can’t cover all costs, providing some help with health costs can really make a difference in the lives of your employees. Things happen — we get sick, we add on to our families, our kids break limbs — and because we have nothing if we don’t have our health, we can’t just save up or wait to take care of ourselves. We won’t get into how broken our health care system is here in the U.S. or how absurd costs are, but it’s important to remember that our health is not a luxury. By providing health insurance to your employees (and their families), you can lessen their financial worries so that, should they ever need to go to the hospital or have emergency surgery, their only concern is getting healthy, not whether or not it can wait or how they’re going to pay for it.
  • Healthy workers are more productive. When your health is poor, it’s all-consuming. You can’t think about how to streamline a process or how to do your job better if your head is pounding or you have chronic bronchitis or a serious back injury. But when your health is good, you don’t even think about it. You feel good and you’re freed up to focus on getting work done. By providing health insurance to your employees, you can help them maintain better health and get the treatment and medication they need so they can focus on daily life. And healthier, more content workers have less sick days and are always going to be more productive, period.
  • You may be eligible for tax advantages and credits. While the government doesn’t do a lot to benefit small business owners, it does offer some tax advantages and credits to businesses offering health insurance to employees. For example, you can deduct your employees’ health insurance costs (as well as your own insurance costs), and if you have fewer than 25 employees, you may be eligible for an additional tax credit. Head here to learn more.

So should you offer health care to your team? That’s a decision only you can make, but we hope we’ve given you something to think about during the consideration phase.

Great Apps For Small Business Owners

Great Apps For Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, any tools that can make your life easier, streamline communication, or save you time are pure gold. Thankfully, developers are always working on new apps to address some of your biggest challenges. Here are some of the apps we recommend to business owners and what they can do for you:hand-holding-a-phone-with-app-icons

Google My Business — With the Google My Business app, you can manage your GMB information, respond to customer reviews, share photos, and get insights into how you’re performing online, all from your phone or tablet.

Evernote — You don’t always have a notebook in hand when brilliance strikes, but you probably have your phone nearby. With the Evernote app, you can easily jot down ideas; organize notes; create to-do lists; save business cards; and scan, store, and organize important contracts and documents. And since it’s all right there on your phone, you can reference it anytime.

Google Drive — Like Evernote, the Google Drive app allows you to create documents, store them, and share with others for collaboration. Want team feedback on a new direct mail flyer? Want your team to be able to easily pull up contracts, Google sheets, or other important documents? Google Drive makes it possible.

Slack — Slack is a great tool for real-time communication with your team, no matter where you are. Within Slack, you can easily direct message anyone on your team, but you also have the ability to create channels, like a general channel where you can post important information that’s relevant to the whole team, or project/topic specific channels. You can also pin documents within channels (Google Drive integrates with Slack, as does Asana, Salesforce, Dropbox, and others), and the search function makes it easy to look up previous conversations using a keyword. Another great thing about Slack is that you can select when you want to be notified: when conversation happens in any channel, when someone messages you directly, or only when you’re mentioned in conversation with an @.

Voxer Walkie Talkie Messenger— Voxer is a messaging app that allows you to have real-time private and group chats in a walk talkie style. Unlike walkie talkies, with Voxer, you can choose to listen and respond immediately or wait until a better time. You can also have your voice messages transcribed to text so you can read them, and easily share your location, photos, videos, and dropbox files with others.

Messenger/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter — Your customers want to be able to reach you through their preferred method and at their preferred time, and many are now using social media to do so. Customers also want quick responses, which is why we recommend getting Messenger app, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the apps of any other social media platforms you have a business profile on. With the apps, you can make sure no messages, comments, or tweets that need to be responded to go unanswered.

Yelp for Business Owners— Whether you love or hate Yelp, many customers and potential customers still use the app to learn more about you, review your business, and get in touch with you. With the Yelp app, you can easily manage your profile, track activity, add photos, respond to reviews, and answer customer messages and questions quickly, right from your phone.

Facebook Ads Manager — Running ads on Facebook? The Facebook Ads Manager app allows you to easily check in on ad performance, create new campaigns, and stay up-to-date on important info and updates. With Facebook ads, time is money, so being able to check performance and learn about potential problems or concerns quickly and easily is important.

AdWords Express — Running ads through Google AdWords express? With the AdWords Express app, you can quickly create and edit ads, set ad goals, and track ad performance right from your phone.

Square Point of Sale (POS) — The Square app makes it easy for you to accept payment for a job, regardless of whether your customer is paying with a debit card, a credit card, Apple Pay, or a chip card. All major credit cards are accepted (2.75% per swipe) and money is deposited fast. Within the app, you can set up products, services, photos, and prices, and at the POS, your customer simply signs directly on your phone or tablet. All you need is the Square reader and the app and you can kiss checks goodbye.

QuickBooks Accounting — Let’s face it, as a business owner, you have to know your numbers. Looking for an app that allows you to create and send invoices, capture photos of receipts, manage cash flow and expenses, and quickly view your P&Ls? The QuickBooks app is it.

Your Business Banking App — Most banks these days have apps that allow you to transfer money from one account to another, view past transactions, track direct debits and direct deposits, and view bank account totals quickly and easily. Many also allow you to quickly deposit money without ever stepping foot in the bank. Simply snap a photo of the check and hold onto it until it clears. Whichever bank you use for business, get the app on your phone or tablet so you can keep your eye on your money and say in the know.

Closing Commander For business owners, time is money. But have you thought about all the money you’re losing out on because you don’t have the time to follow up on every open estimate? It may take up to 7 touches for a customer to move forward after receiving an estimate, and that’s a lot of work for an already busy business owner or service team. Enter Closing Commander. This app makes following up and closing sales easy. It’s automated, personalized, and affordable. Some users are seeing more than 34% success rate in closing more of these open estimates. Check it out!

What are some must-have apps you rely on? Let us know in the comments below!