Employee appreciation day should not happen only once a year, that’s a given. First of all, your employees have names, lives, families, friends and aspirations. Not only that, they actively contribute to your business’s bottom line – for better or worse.

Appreciating employees is not just about considering annual pay increases or sitting down with them once a month or quarter to talk about work. Nor is it simply a case of free drinks after work or the occasional free breakfast. It is about making them aware you acknowledge the value they bring as individuals to your company.

Have you ever seen that moment in Lord of the Rings where the Fellowship meets for the first time? The leaders of the different worlds end up fighting each other. All of them are mighty, powerful and wise. Each one is convinced they know best when it comes to what to do with the ring. However, they cannot reach an agreement and thus begins a battle of strength.

This scenario frequently happens in our day to day. How many people do you need to do wrong by to prove that you are right?

Back to the Lord of the Rings… one selfless individual, Frodo, who is not the wisest or the strongest, takes it upon himself to carry the burden that is the ring, It is only then that all of them bow and kneel at his feet. His cause is bigger than him. His purpose is greater than the whole. They know that. and none of them can disagree… and so the Fellowship is born. One that ultimately enables Frodo to be successful in his quest.

Businesses operate in the same way. It is not about being a family, as I often hear, or having friendly colleagues who are fun to be with. In business we aspire to achieve success and the most effective way of accomplishing this is to encourage our employees to rally around a greater purpose, our corporate values and objectives.

How well you rally your employees around that greater purpose and unleash a drive in them to achieve your business goals – no matter what challenges they face along the way – depends on how you show your appreciation.

Here are three proven ways:

 Be observant and share your observations: It’s all too easy to focus on the end result and miss the many small contributions different employees make. For instance, Jack, who supported his colleagues in closing that important deal, even though his role was just proof reading a contract.  Or Helen on reception who so warmly meets and greets each and every visitor. Appreciating employees is about noticing and acknowledging these small contributions that add up to a greater whole. On the flip side, it is about noticing where things can be improved and providing constructive feedback. Encouraging and empowering employees to make the necessary changes.  This will have a greater impact than any ad hoc program you may have in place and will go further than any free breakfast.

Treat your employees as more than their job description: We are all human. We are all cut from the same cloth. We have the same needs: to be proud of what we achieve, to constantly grow and develop as well as life a fulfilling life alongside others. So take time to build rapport and nurture a meaningful relationship with them.

Be mindful of your employees’ well-being: We’d all like to be able to fire on full cylinders 24/7, 365 days a year. That’s not possible. We each need to take a break. It’s tempting when you see an employee putting their all into their job, to let them keep at it. The problem is, some don’t know when to stop. So, if you have an employee at risk of burnout, encourage them to slow down. Make them feel safe about slowing down, so they are not worried about being penalised for it. In the long run you will have healthy, happier staff.

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