5 Easy Ways to Brighten Your Employee’s Days

The gap between employees and the boss can be shrunk by participating, listening and acknowledging good work.
April 04, 2012

With all the responsibilities that come with being a boss, it can be tempting to overlook your role in maintaining your employee's happiness. But some of the best leaders will tell you even small gestures can make a tremendous impact on company morale and, in turn, the success of the business overall. Here is how to manage your employees in a way that lightens their work day.

1. Let them know you appreciate them

The No. 1 employee complaint is that they are under-appreciated for what they do. Not everyone deserves continual praise, but telling people what you like about their work can make them feel better about it.

They are probably doing things that you take for granted. It’s understandable. If we didn’t take some things for granted, we’d be thanking everyone for everything all the time. But your employees’ good work isn’t an abstract thing. You see it every day. Let them know that you do.

2. Get into the trenches

A wise man who hired me once told me, “I will never ask you to do a thing I wouldn’t do.”

If you ask people to scrub floors with toothbrushes, let them see you doing the exact same thing sometimes. Do the dirty work with them. You’re not so important that you can’t ever do your employee’s job.

Do it, but don’t get in the way. You’re only a tourist, but a visitor can empathize better than someone who’s never been there.

3. Ask them what they need

Listen to your employees. Ask them what they’d like to see changed. They no doubt have ideas of how things should be run. You can’t implement everyone’s ideas. But knowing that you heard and then put one of their ideas into action will establish a stronger relationship with all your employees. Remember, they know what needs doing and they likely have good ideas for how to do things better.

4. Give a small gift

When you reach out to your employees with a modest token of appreciation, it shows you care about them.

What do you give?

Listen. Does an employee rave about a favorite lunchtime spot or coffee bar? Get them a gift certificate so their next few visits will be on your bill. Are they always complaining about their pen leaking? Get them a better pen.

5. Give a bonus

Cash is king. As with giving gifts, there is a line to respect. Ask yourself: Am I going to hold a bonus over someone’s head? If so, it’s a bribe. If you expect nothing in return, it’s a gift. At a loss for what an appropriate amount is? Check out 4 Tips for Creating an Effective Bonus Structure.

It’s the gift that will keep your employees grateful to be working for you.

Jacob Harper co-founded clothing store and apparel brand Vintage Vice in 2006 at the age of 23. Jacob sold Vintage Vice in 2009 and is currently writing and teaching. He is a head writer of the weekly political sketch show Top Story! Weekly at the iO West in Hollywood.