Showing Employee Appreciation — Experts Weigh In

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re doing a three part series called, “How do you show love?” Today, we’re finding out how our small business experts show love to their employees not just on V-Day but all year. From Valentine’s Day massages to year-round unlimited PTO, we got some pretty sweet answers.   

1. “I love happy surprises so whenever a team member does something noteworthy I like to surprise them with a gift. Sometimes I let them use my GrubHub account to order lunch and other times it might be a massage or facial.” –Emily LaRusch, Back Office Betties, LLC

2. “At Kabbage we show love to our employees in numerous ways. All our employees have top of the line tech, flexible schedules, catered lunches daily, beer on tap, full coverage of health benefits, unlimited PTO and many other great things. As a result of this, we were voted #28 on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list for 2016.” –Clinton Dugan, Kabbage

3. “For the guys on my team, I buy them gift cards to flower shops. For the girls on my team, I have my wife help me pick things out so it doesn’t look like I’m buying women gifts for Valentine’s day, other than my wife. Plus she has great taste and knows what a woman wants on Valentine’s day. Often it’s a gift card to a mani-pedi place, or some amazing chocolates. 

Year round, to show love, we have a pretty open policy about missing work for legitimate reasons. Family member is sick? Not a problem. I just treat them like I wanted to be treated when I was an employee. And they hustle harder for me because of it.” –Stephen Twomey, MasterMind Digital Branding Solutions

4. “I’ve found that offering my employees flexibility is one of the best ways to show my love for them. I realize that not all my employees want to work the strict 9AM-5PM hours. The solution? I let them set their own schedule as long as they’re clocking 8 hours a day and not missing any meetings. This allows everyone to have time outside of work, making them better employees while at work.” –Brady Keller, 

5. “We show love to our employees by offering them four weeks of paid vacation every year. We know our employees value time spent outside the office and we encourage them to use this time for family, friends, travel, and more. This helps to prevent employee burnout as well. Everyone wins!” –Leon Sun, SocialLia

6. “One of the main ways we show love for our employees all year round is ultimately with our flexibility! We understand the importance of work-life balance, and encourage our employees to take care of themselves so they can perform at their best. Whether it’s working from home, or taking a yoga class; if you’re your best self, that translates into your work.” –Shelley Janes, SideDoor Inc.

7. “We give our people gift cards, monogrammed Yeti mugs, thank you cards, public recognition, and random bonuses for going above and beyond their normal job duties. Sometimes it’s an in office lunch on a Friday or maybe taking them out to lunch on a Tuesday. We change it up and try and keep it fresh so it doesn’t become expected or routine.” –Benjamin K. Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC 

8. “At RAMS Home Loans, we like to reward our employees monetarily at times when they have shown great leadership, surpassed goals or milestones, or have demonstrated the ability to do more than what is asked of them. For example, we have frequent office-wide contests where the winners will win movie tickets, restaurant gift cards, cash, or even extra time off. These kinds of rewards motivate our employees to go the extra mile, and it really shows them that we care.” –Chasen Nick, RAMS Home Loans

9. “I teach and coach my employees on a regular basis and enable them to be successful at their job. I break the things I try to teach them into two groups. One is the strategy and direction of the business, the other is the set of skills they need to thrive at their individual roles. I believe that regular communication and training is really important and it shows your employees that you care about and appreciate them.” –Steve Benson, Badger Maps

10. “My employees are the backbones to my success and without their hard work and dedication I would not be here today. I like to show my employees love all year round not just the holidays. Small jesters like writing a handwritten letter highlighting their success and showing appreciation goes a long way. I also like bringing lunch to the office every Friday so we get can sit and bond with my employees. Creating a family positive environment is my way of showing love to my employees.” –Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco

11. “In an effort to maintain a positive company culture, I like to show my staff love year round by making sure they know I care about their work/life balance. My goal is to consistently engage the staff as a whole in quarterly outings similar to an office field trip. This could be anything from a day at the museum, art gallery opening, or even wine tasting. Of course these field days are still taken with pay so that everyone can relax and take time for a little self-love.” –DeeAnn Sims, SPBX Social

12. “I started an online marketing agency in Madison, WI just last summer. It’s been a challenge learning to find clients and run everything this first year, but one thing I’ve been committed to from the beginning has been paying and treating employees well, even if I’m hiring them on a 1099 basis. Short-term profitability is hard for any new business, but I believe in investing long-term by being flexible with people as life situations come up and paying them as much as I reasonably can even before the company turns a profit.” –Eagan Heath, Get Found Madison

13.  “I spend some time during the week to chat with each of our team members to see how they’re doing. I ask them about work and their family life, as well as write letters to their families when they’ve done great work!” –William Bauer, Royce New York

14. “I write handwritten notes to everyone and express what I appreciate about them. We throw pizza parties, celebrate anniversaries with cake and ice cream, have a year-end dinner and have a picnic in the summer. We work hard on walking around and complementing the good we see. For my leadership team it is more hand written notes, an off-site beer every now and then, a yearly dinner at my house, etc. Plus we share the love on our social networks and any kind notes we get from clients.” –Betty Brennan, Taylor Studios, Inc.

15. “Showing love and appreciation for employees is important to us at CoverWallet, so we do this in a few ways year-round. First, we make sure to share positive feedback from clients and with our team at our daily standups. In addition, we bring in cookies and sing whenever one of our team members has a birthday (or we have a company milestone to celebrate).” –Maxime Rieman, CoverWallet

16. “We have always shown appreciation and love to our teachers at our quarterly trainings in which we have gifts of gratitude, a teacher of the training award, and monthly get together dinners.” –Doreen Foxwell, The Children’s School of Yoga

17.  “I love my employees year round by recognizing the things they do great and and show them how much I appreciate the work they do for me. Every year at Christmas and at the end of our season in May, I get a fully catered lunch for the whole company to Celebrate their efforts and our success.” –Katie DeCicco,

18. “Many employees appreciate when food is brought into the office, and restaurants are no different. We frequently have restaurant-wide menu tastings where each employee gets to try out the new items on the menu. We also give all our employees a substantial discount on any food or drinks that are purchased. If your office doesn’t do this already, try incorporating free food into the environment, and watch as your employees thrive.” –Kristopher Johnson, The Gantry Restaurant & Bar

19. “A great way to show your employees love is by investing in them for the long term. Try sending your employees on a business retreat that is half training and half rest and relaxation. You could also offer to pay for tuition for classes that are related to your industry. Another option is to send your employees to national or international conferences where industry experts will be speaking. By providing opportunities like these, you’re showing your employees that they’re worth a lot to you.” –Marisa South, Vet & Pet Jobs

20. “As a company that takes pride in, and holds true to, our principles, we’re committed to creating remarkable experiences not just for our customers, but also our employees. 

Here are a few of the ways we show love for our employees at ONTRAPORT: 

– We host many local businesses on campus throughout the year to offer employees free massages, outdoor workout classes, and educational forums right on ONTRAPORT’s campus. 
– We offer employees free biometrics screenings each year to ensure they’re meeting their health and wellness goals. 
– To foster personal success after life at ONTRAPORT, we provide complimentary retirement saving consultations multiple times throughout the year with a local expert. 
– We send out an employee benefits survey bi-annually and evolve our programs accordingly.” –Josephine Cheng, ONTRAPORT

21. “The business I work for, Huemor, is a web design company located in Farmingdale, NY. The owners, Jeff and Mike, definitely show their love for their employees all year-round. Not only do they provide a great company culture, they show their appreciation through gestures here and there. From hosting holiday parties and potluck lunches to giving us some refreshing time off during the holiday season, we are always feeling the love.” –Lyndi Catania, Huemor

22. “A lot of companies struggle with showing love/appreciation for their employees once they start to grow past the face-to-fact small business scale. To help out, apps like Spoil make it much easier to integrate friendly, delightful emails with app store purchases – you can literally spoil your employees with love straight from your inbox. And if this doesn’t work, you can always go the Directive Consulting way and install on-tap cold brew and beer in your office.” –Sean Martin, Directive Consulting

23. “As small business owner, I have found the best way to show your employees appreciation is through verbal affirmation of their hard work and dedication to making your dream a reality. Show them that they are valued in the company by encouraging they share new ideas and opinions, provide opportunities for them to put these thoughts into action, and ultimately include the most successful initiatives into the day-to-day operation of the company. Also, find out what motivates your employees, whether it be group outings, donuts, company apparel, or something else entirely, and acknowledge and reward times your employees go above and beyond. A happy team feels empowered, appreciated, and respected.” –Craig Bloem,

24. “We show love for our employees by communicating with them and making sure they are taken care of. We constantly let them know how important they are to our team. We encourage communication between employees and owners to ensure they are well taken care of and happy with their job.” –Jeff Street, Boss Heating and Air Conditioning Inc.

25. “The way to our employees’ hearts is through their stomachs, right? Catered lunches are a great way of showing some appreciation because who doesn’t LOVE free food?!” –Amanda Thomas, Liaison Technologies

26. “One major way to show your employees you care is to take an honest interest in helping them develop their career that looks beyond what they can do for you. People want to be in their job for more than just a paycheck – they want to be in it to grow and improve. Most people have genuine interests in climbing to bigger and better things. Consider working alongside them to help them reach their career goals even if that means they eventually grow beyond being part of your team.” –Charles Dugan, American Image Displays

27. “One of my favorite ways to show some love for my employees is by allowing them to bring their dogs to work. Almost everyone in our office has a dog, and it can be hard to leave them alone at home for 8+ hours a day. So as long as the dogs are friendly and trained, they are welcomed into our office environment. It really makes the atmosphere more relaxed and is a great way to reduce stress.” –Dan Roberge, Maintenance Care

28. “We work in transportation. The drivers spend a lot of time on the road. I invite my team to home events like Thanksgiving and Christmas. At various times I leave snacks in the trucks including cookies, popcorn, ice tea, chips and water. I also buy things for them that they may use on the road. When possible I give small bonuses. It is important for business owners to respect their employees. So I also listen to their feedback and concerns. Further, I always take the time to say thank you and extend positive thoughts for the journey.” –Marcella Williams, CDL Focus

29. “At AppInstitute, we like to think of ourselves as one big family, from founders and employees to contractors, suppliers and customers. When we started back in 2011, we wanted to focus on keeping everyone happy, and that remains true today. One way we show love to our employees is through our traditional ‘Beer O’ Clock’ on Fridays. Every Friday at 4PM, we wind down, have a beer, and give a quick update to everyone about what’s going on within the business. Then, we invite employees to nominate someone based on something helpful they did that week to spin a wheel of fortune, with prizes like Free Pizza, App Store Vouchers and Early Finishes. This keeps everybody motivated and is a great way to transition from the work week into the weekend.” –Ian Naylor, AppInstitute

30. “Aside from the standard company-paid-for Christmas party, I show the love to my employees all year round. I do this by offering continued rewards to those who keep meeting targets or go above and beyond the call of duty. This can stretch from a small thank you such as gifting £50’s worth of shopping vouchers to an employee who has excelled at a particular event, to promotion and pay rises for continued hard work and loyalty to the company.” –James Nuttall, Dreambooth

31. “We are just planning our *Annual Frog Dollar Auction*, where our employees throughout the year gain virtual money for going above and beyond, doing great work, outstanding performances, etc. Every Manager in the business has an allotted amount and they can give to whomever they wish (also allows cross departmental thanks). With these Frog Dollars, we auction away International Flights, Hotel stays, TV’s, ipads, Restaurant Certificates, etc. It’s an opportunity for the whole company to get together with their families in a venue that has a pool, soccer pitch, bar, and much more! 

The staff love it as they get free stuff that has great value and it is earned by their hard work, as well as spending time with their families and other people’s families.” –Richard Bexon, Namu Travel Group

32. “What I love doing for my employees around Valentine’s Day (and any day) is taking them out to eat and then a little extra for them. Usually as a group we go out for an extra-long lunch and just sit around and enjoy the early afternoon. From here, I like to surprise them with some type of gift such as a gift certificated I know they will love, or a gift basket with items in it they love use. Nothing like putting a smile on my employees faces this time of year.” –Chris Pontine, Creating a Website Today

33. “I show love to employees in two ways. The first way is by acknowledges their successes. Anytime an employee meets a goal or gets a big win, I make sure everyone else knows about it and that the employee is recognized in a positive light. The second way is by having fun in the office. Our work space has a recreation area with foosball, ping pong, and other games. Every day I invite an employee to play a game with me to relax, get a break from work, and have some fun.” –Myron Goldsmith, F13 Works

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