Leadership Blog

Celebrate a Year of Overcoming Obstacles With Your Employees


When the pandemic first arose, many companies — Jelmar included — had to adjust to the constantly changing environment with new methods of work, business plans, and so much more. It was a stressful time, and employee appreciation became essential. Business leaders had to prioritize their teams’ well-being in an effort to neutralize some of the stressors of a world gone amok.

Those efforts to show appreciation for employees paid off for Jelmar and plenty of other organizations. Even amid massive uncertainty, our workers kept upping their game and performing better than ever. This shouldn’t be a surprise to leaders who believe in giving back to their team members. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 93% of workers who felt valued by their employers were more apt to go the extra mile. In stark contrast, about half of those who felt unsupported looked for new job opportunities.

In other words, it’s smart business to show appreciation for your people. Besides, it’s the right thing to do. And even though we’ve normalized hybrid work schedules and constant Zoom meetings, appreciation is still critical. Team members need to be recognized for their contributions —especially as the pandemic continues on.

Quite honestly, Jelmar employees contribute some of our best ideas. If they become disengaged, they can’t help us reach that next level of success. Additionally, they might be tempted to leave negative reviews on career websites such as Glassdoor, which could affect future recruitment efforts in a big way.

Of course, you might wonder how to show your gratitude in meaningful ways. Beyond offering up your thanks verbally on a regular basis, try some of the following strategies. They’ll help you show the love and keep employees engaged amid the continuing pandemic:

1. Send thoughtful gift boxes.

Everyone likes receiving unexpected presents in the mail. Even if your office staff has moved back on site, have something special delivered to their homes. This shows you’re still thinking of their important contributions during the pandemic. At Jelmar, we send out snack and goodie boxes. We try to include seasonal items when we can, such as special spring treats. Sometimes, the boxes include different activities that our employees can do solo or with family members and friends.

2. Hand out generous gift cards.

My employees really appreciate “night-out” gift cards. (In most cases, they can also be used for “night-in” events). For example, on Valentine’s Day, we gave everyone Grubhub cards. This allowed them to take time off from kitchen duties and have a meal with their Valentine. Although it might seem like you can’t customize a gift card, you absolutely can — especially if you manage a smaller team. Find out what each person likes and choose cards accordingly.

3. Remember your colleagues’ kids, pets, and loved ones.

Do you have parents on your team (including pet parents)? All moms and dads have spent the past 12-plus months dealing with new realities. Provide them with coloring books for their youngsters or toys for their furry friends. Above all else, get creative. You can have tons of fun coming up with imaginative family care packages. Don’t forget workers’ significant others, too! Your employees’ supportive partners deserve appreciation as well.

4. Call it a weekend a few hours early.

Everyone feels the pinch of jam-packed schedules and the resulting burnout. When feasible, send everyone home early on Friday or give them the option to come in later Monday. The gift of a few extra free hours can send a wave of positivity throughout your company, and your no-strings-attached generosity could be just what your team members need to rejuvenate after a stressful week. It’s impossible to put a dollar amount on the gift of time, but your employees will surely appreciate it.

Without the talent and loyalty of your employees, would your company be where it is now after a year of masks, social distancing, and impromptu Zoom meetings? Probably not. Show your workers that their continued commitment is appreciated by offering up your heartfelt gratitude in the form of the above gifts. In turn, you’ll have a more engaged, happy team.