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A Little Appreciation Goes a Long Way

What's the number one reason that employees stay with an organization? Usually, it is simply because they enjoy working with their supervisors, according to numerous studies.

"Thanks" Post-It note with a smiley face Building good relationships between staff members and their bosses can pay off handsomely for your company. In fact, some experts estimate that the cost of replacing an employee ranges from 29 to 46 percent of the person's salary.

The key to lowering your turnover rate is to tell employees when they've done a good job and let them know the company values them. While there are many ways to encourage a company culture that appreciates talent, here are seven effective suggestions:

  • Run profiles. Use your company newsletter to run brief stories about key employees. Make sure you include the people in the mail room to top management. Outline their accomplishments at work, as well as their personal interests or hobbies. Include a photo so everyone can recognize them.
  • Send memos. If someone from another department pitched in on an important project, thank the employee in a memo or e-mail and send a copy to his or her supervisor.
  • Put it in writing. Urge managers and supervisors to send hand-written thank you notes to individual staff members at least once a year. The notes should be thoughtful, with details of the employee's contributions to the company and the department. A hand-written thank you makes a bigger impression than e-mail or typed letters.
  • Give praise in public. Acknowledge your staff members' achievements in a public forum, such as a staff meeting. Or hold semi-annual ceremonies to publicly reward employees for their achievements. Be sure to recognize all kinds of excellence, from the receptionist who is complimented by customers to the janitor who goes the extra mile.
  • Take them to lunch. Provide a budget that supervisors can tap into once a month to take an outstanding employee to lunch. This helps develop relationships and a $20 lunch goes a long way toward making employees feel appreciated.
  • Tailor your appreciation. There's no one way to pay tribute to your best employees. You can recognize outstanding staff members with a formal "Employee of the Month" program or use a less formal system such as a face-to-face compliment.
  • Promote two-way communication. Good managers spend more time listening than talking. Maintain an open-door policy. Employees who feel comfortable communicating with you will feel valued and be more inspired to deliver their best work. Get to know your team. Frequent interaction with your staff allows you to get to know each employee on a personal level.
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