The Power of Employee Appreciation

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I’m sure many of you have heard of Mary Kay cosmetics, one of the largest network marketing companies in the world. There are more than 800,000 Mary Kay beauty consultants throughout the world, who have accomplished more than $1.2 billion in sales. The founder of this hugely successful organization was named Mary Kay Ash — and I am one of the many people who have purchased her products and contributed to those numbers.

Many people have asked Mary Kay what she owed her success to. What was her secret to building an empire and acquiring so much wealth? There are two quotes in response to this question that I want to share with you today. I frequently ponder on them and even have them posted in my house as a reminder of how I should live my life.

  • Quote No. 1: “I have learned to imagine a sign hanging from every person’s neck that says, ‘Make me feel important today.’”
  • Quote No. 2: “Everyone wants to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone, don’t keep it a secret.”

Isn’t that an amazing mindset and perspective to have? Imagine if we could all master the art of appreciation in our lives. How different this world would be! It’s not that we would do this to make more money and have more power. Perhaps it would be a natural result as was the case with Mary Kay. But I believe that if we expressed appreciation to those around us on a daily basis and proactively sought out ways to make people feel important, not only would our own lives be enriched, the lives of countless others would also be uplifted and changed for the better. Everything about humanity would be better.

Appreciation is especially vital in the workplace. I have heard many business owners say “Why do I need to reward my employees for doing their job? That’s what I pay them for.” I have also heard “What’s the point of incentives? I shouldn’t have to pay someone to do their job in the first place.” I hope you’re like me and cringed when you read that.

So, let’s break it down: There is a difference between paying your employees to do their job, appreciating them for doing their job, and incentivizing them to take it to the next level. I am going to provide you with some ideas that I hope you will find valuable and helpful in connecting and growing your team.

Paying Employees to do their job

Everyone in your company is going to be all about the WIIFM — what’s in it for me? Your team, no matter how much they love what they do or find purpose in it, will always want to know how much they are compensated for doing their job. Having clear roles and responsibilities is very important so people know what is expected of them in return for a paycheck. But so often employees are given new or different tasks that might be outside of their daily duties. Sometimes people are more than happy to jump in and help, but if they are given a project that backs them up with their normal job and takes them away from their family and having a life, they are going to want to know the WIIFM.

Appreciating employees for doing their job

So, you pay your people to do their job. But appreciating them to do their job is different. It has to be a show and tell. Many business owners and leaders might give shout-outs at company meetings or say things like “I appreciate all you do.” Words of affirmation are great, but they are just words. What are you doing to show your team you value them? Here are some ideas that I’ve seen just within the last year since the pandemic hit:

Since my husband started working from home full-time, his company has sent him a swag box in the mail every single month to say thank you. It would have a new sweater or jacket, Yeti water bottle, Cabala’s gift card (we love that store), gourmet chocolate, journals, flashlights, etc.

Sarah Hammond, owner of Atlas Plumbing, Air, and Electric, buys each employee a bag of fruits and vegetables every single month to take home to their families. She advocates health and wellness and wants to support them in this way.

Jennifer Bagley, owner of CI Web group, got all of her team members a Peloton exercise bike, and they actually do company workouts together from home.

Ryan Kohler, owner of Hire Dimensions, provides a housecleaner to each one of his employees every month to do the deep cleaning.

These are just some of the ways the leaders are saying thank you to their employees. They are saying thank you with gifts and actions, not just words. Gifts matter.

Incentivizing your team to take it to the next level

Apart from paying your employees to do their job and appreciating them for doing so, motivating them is a whole new ballgame. No matter how much someone loves what they do, they will get burned out. Everyone needs a break to reset every now and then. They also need something to always stay motivated to continue helping you build your empire.

Incentives should be short-term and long-term. You might need a certain task completed by a certain deadline — such as scheduling membership appointments by the end of the month or reaching a specific revenue goal. If you are needing something done fast, creating individual and team incentives is the way to go.

Long-term incentives can also be super beneficial — like at the end of the year if your business reaches a certain level, everyone gets to cash in on the prize. Bonuses, spiffs, and incentives are a great way to keep your team motivated, help them feel appreciated, and provides you opportunities as a leader to keep people engaged in growing your business.

Short-term incentives can come in the form of gift cards, PTO, spiffs, work-from-home day, prize box, lunch, etc. Long-term incentives could come in the form of vacations, (I know a contractor who gives away a cruise for two every month to his employees), large scale and expensive prizes, cash, gym memberships, etc.

Just have fun with it! Find out what your employees want and then help them get it by creating a plan of action to achieve their goals.

I want to encourage everyone, and challenge myself, to find someone each day of our lives who we can make feel important. We always remember the thoughtful things people do for us. Let’s all commit to becoming better at being the person who does thoughtful things for others on a daily basis.

Erica Leonor is Executive Trainer for Power Selling Pros. As an Executive Trainer at Power Selling Pros, Erica Leonor is constantly developing new content and curriculum that will enable home service businesses to achieve a higher level of success for themselves, their teams, and their customers. A mentor, coach, presenter, and public speaker for over 10 years, Erica also serves on the Board of Directors of Women in HVACR. She received a B.A. in anthropology from BYU-Hawaii.

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