Employee Appreciation Day comes around on your calendar once a year, but that doesn't mean you only get that one opportunity to throw a little love their way. How can you give something back to your workers besides just saying thank you?
Meeting your team where they are is a great way to show that you appreciate them, no matter how big or small your company is. Good leaders aren't afraid to be seen on the same level as their employees, so there isn't a hard separation between every position. It's important to have set roles that are clearly defined with every new hire, but creating an environment that's solely based on superiority might not retain the best talent.
By spending time with your team, you can create a relaxed environment that allows employees to feel like they're working with humans as opposed to just titles. Starting a new job or gaining extra responsibilities can bring on some anxiety, but being part of the team can help create a less stressful environment for your employees.
Humanizing your office, yourself, and your employees is important to build trust in the office. This is true of any authority figure; how students perceive teachers, how citizens look at police officers, and so on. The problem with these dynamics is that people are seen as their titles: A student is only a student, a teacher is just a teacher. Without human empathy in these interactions, it can be difficult for both parties to work toward a solution. We all have a job to do, but we aren't limited to just our job.
When you open your door to your employees, they begin to trust you as someone that they can come to with a problem instead of someone they're afraid of asking for help. Your employees aren't going to start hanging out with you on the weekends, but they'll feel comfortable working through a problem, asking a question, and being upfront about not having an answer to everything.
It can ultimately come down to accessibility. If you spend too much time with a closed office door, this starts to create an air of intimidation. As SAP President, Jennifer Morgan explains, "As you move up the chain, what becomes more important is what everyone below you thinks." Your employees might feel uncomfortable knocking on your door to talk to you or ask for help with something, so it's important to find that healthy balance for everyone. It won't happen overnight, but it's definitely something that becomes even more important as your company continues to grow.
There's a way to do this that won't come across as Michael Scott from The Office. Being involved in birthday celebrations, joining your team for lunches, and being a part of team outings are all great ways to get started.
TransitScreen cofounders Matt Caywood and Ryan Croft join the rest of the team for catered lunch on Mondays. It's a great chance for them to casually chat with everyone in the company and join in on conversations that usually aren't about work.
Taking little steps like that to make employees feel more appreciated in the workplace is what sets companies apart and give people a great experience. Current employees will be happier and more productive, and potential ones will be able to sense that during the interview process.