Let Them Know They Matter: When Should You Say Thanks To Your Employees?

By Paul Bieber

Right now. Not three days from now or at your staff meeting a week from Thursday. Right now, while it’s fresh in your mind and the employee feels he did a good job. Your recognizing this fact, either privately to your co-worker or in front of a whole group, will forever be remembered by the employee involved.


At best you have 24 hours to say “thanks for a job well done.” After that is too late. By then an employee will be thinking, “Gee, the boss didn’t give a darn that I went out of my way to do something great for the company.”

And this is what people remember when someone comes knocking on their door trying to hire them away from you. Right now, you don’t want anyone on your team harboring any bad thoughts about the company.

How long does it take to say thank you? Ten seconds? A minute? If you can’t create this small amount of time to say thanks, then you are so totally immersed in thoughts that you can’t see the basics in your business. You don’t need to set a whole company meeting; just the small work group the employee is in will be fine. A certificate given a week later is not as valuable as a pat on the back today.


Here’s a trick that worked for me. Keep a calendar with employees’ birth-days and their employment anniversaries. Taking ten seconds to say happy birthday is great. If you’re a small company, have a cake. Or, if you’re a large company, have the department head get a cake for that group.

Include in the employee’s birthday section of your files what that person likes, such as baseball, hockey, traveling to a certain country, etc. If you plan to give a gift, make it fit the employee’s lifestyle. One size does not fit all.

If you give employee raises based on years worked, don’t miss this under any circumstances. You should calendar this a month ahead of the actual date so that you’re prepared to give the raise due.


What happens when you finish a job a week ahead of schedule? You’ve saved some money and that’s never bad. Your employees don’t expect you to share this money, just as they don’t expect to pay you if the job goes long. This is an opportunity for a team thank you. Include the estimator or any in-house people who helped.

You can and should have an employee of the month or of the year. This can be a surprise announcement and should be given at a company holiday party or summer picnic. His or her picture should be up for the month or the year on a special bulletin board. There should be a plaque that the employee can take home and be proud of. Give a special parking space for the month/year.

Do you advertise your company? Use your employee of the month in your ad. Not every employee can be a spokesperson, but they can do a walk-through carrying a product. Better yet, have the employee of the year’s family go shopping in your store as customers during the taping.

In your day-to-day operations, the key is to promptly acknowledge something done well. This costs nothing. In longer-term thoughts, money is important to all employees, but few employees will switch for comparative money if they feel appreciated.

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