“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” – G. B. Stern, British author One day, two old friends meet by chance in the street. One of them looked really sad and fed up, so the other asked, “What gives? Why so forlorn, my friend?” His friend replied, “You won’t believe what’s been happening the last few months.” “So tell me,” his friend replied. Sitting down together on a city bench, the sad friend began his story. “Three months ago, a relative I’d never even met died. A distant cousin, I think. They left me $60,000.” “Wow, that’s a stroke of luck,” came the response. “Then, two months ago, an uncle passed on and he had left me nearly $100,000. I hadn’t seen him in years.” “Starting to sound like an angel has come down and blessed you, my friend.” “You don’t understand, and you won’t believe this. A great-aunt died last month, and left me a cool quarter of a million.” Now his friend was getting really confused, and just a little irritated. “So why do you look so unhappy then?” “Why? Easy. This month? Nothing.” Being grateful is a simple, normal reaction for when something good happens when things turn out well, and especially when someone does us a good turn. We ask, we receive, we’re naturally grateful. Unlike, of course, the guy in the little anecdote above. As an employer, recognizing the efforts of your employees, and duly rewarding them for those efforts is a key element of what it takes to be a boss with well-honed leadership skills. If you want to be the captain of a winning team, showing gratitude for a job well done is a prerequisite of that position. Encourage and praise — two words that will stand you in good stead as an employer, especially when things aren’t quite going so well and it’s everyone’s shoulders to the wheel to keep your business moving forward. So how best do you reward those employees who deserve it? This article will provide you with 4 cool ways to say “thank you” to your employees. There are many more out there – just be creative. Some of these will involve you putting your hand in your pocket (or putting your hand in the business’s pocket), but, as my dear Mom always says: “What goes around… Comes around.” She says it a lot, actually. It’s one of her favorites. Thoughtful Verbal Praise It doesn’t take much to say thanks. In fact, you just need to open your mouth. However (and this one’s free), providing thoughtful verbal praise to an employee who has demonstrated great qualities is a lot more professional and personal at the same time. Pick out what was admirable about their performance, and give details. That way, they’ll be under no doubts as to what you see as good practice. Remember, everybody benefits when people experience clear direction. Flexible Scheduling Everybody has a life outside of the workplace. Sometimes, as an employer, you get to know your staff pretty well. You may meet socially, share similar hobbies, even live near each other. But one thing is certain. Unless you become their best friend, you’re never going to know what pressures and challenges they face once they leave the office for the evening. Bearing that in mind, a sure sign of gratitude, of appreciating someone’s worth to you as an employee, is to be as flexible as you can be if the need arises. It may be a family emergency or a legal or financial issue – it doesn’t matter. What really matters is that you are flexible and helpful as you possibly can be when it comes to requests for time off, a change in their working hours, or even a need to leave early on that particular day. Personalized Gifts Even if you don’t know your employee’s personal likes and dislikes particularly well, having a little, discreet word with their peers will offer up some useful information about “what floats their boat.” In a nice way, of course. Armed with such knowledge, you can then present a personalized gift to them for outstanding performance, going above and beyond the call, or simply being the happiest one in the office. Personalized gifts for employees show that you appreciate and are grateful for their contribution, whatever that may be. Corporate gifts not only just reward the employee either, because as long as the gift is stylish and useful, it will also mean they are carrying the company brand, and proudly so. This is also a great opportunity for you to be a little creative, even humorous. Remember, they put a smile on your face, so put a smile on theirs. Provide Opportunities William James, U.S. psychologist and philosopher, once said: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” Nothing shows more gratitude to an employee than your dedication to their career progression (except, maybe, a larger than expected end-of-year bonus, or an all expenses-paid Hawaiian vacation, but bear with me). Showing an employee that you are willing to invest in them as a person, as an integral part of your company’s future development, is a sure-fire way for them to feel appreciated for their continuing efforts. So, provide opportunities for them to grow whenever you can. Use Your Imagination Rewarding employees is an integral part of positive leadership. By doing so with these 4 cool ways – thoughtful verbal praise, flexible scheduling, personalized gifts, and providing opportunities – your employees will be under no illusions about their worth and value, and, in turn, you’ll be rewarded with a happier and more motivated workforce. What cool and imaginative ways have you found to reward your employees? What kind of response did they get? Please feel free to share your experiences and thoughts with a comment below. Our gratitude for them is guaranteed.