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3 (cheap) ideas to keep your top performers

3 (cheap) ideas to keep your top performers

March 12, 2009

Did you hear about the pharmacist who gave his employees thousands of dollars in bonuses to spend on things they need? It's a great idea and I'm sure we'd all love to do that.

But what if you can't just give away money to your employees? I've got a few ideas that have worked for me and my clients over the years that you should know about.

First, more about the pharmacist. It's a great story that ran on KABC in Los Angeles earlier this week. When Danny Cottrell summoned his employees to a meeting in his Alabama pharmacy, they feared the worst. Instead, Cottrell handed his full-time employees $700 and part-time employees $300 for a total of $16,000 ' all in $2 bills.

He told them to spend it on things they need, preferably at local businesses, and to give 15% to charity. Some were so overcome with Cottrell's generosity, they wept.

Like I said, that's a great story. And I'm sure most of us would love to show our appreciation for our employees and do the same thing.

But what if we can't in the middle of a recession that seems to have no end in sight?

Here are my '3 R's' to show appreciation to your employees that won't cost you thousands of dollars.

1. Recognize your best performers. I hate to admit it, but there are many business owners ' large and small ' who feel they don't think they need to do anything at all because they feel the job market is so bad they won't leave. I hope you don't believe that. Because the fact is, good employees will always have a home ' somewhere. Often, when a company begins laying people off those who are left are the ones that couldn't find jobs elsewhere. So be sure to recognize your best performers. Talk to them. Seek their input on what could be done differently and how the company can improve. Your star performers also want to be stakeholders so give them an opportunity by getting their advice.

2. Reward your successes ' and failures! It's easy to reward successes, but how often do we really do it? Gift cards for Itunes, Amazon.com, Target, etc. are always good ideas but you can also reward someone without spending a dime. Tell them what they did well. Feature their success story in an email to your employees or in your next company meeting. And reward failures! It sounds counter-intuitive but you want to encourage creative ways to serve your customers. Not all of the ideas will work but it's important for your employees to know you understand that. I always say, 'F is not for failure. It's for Finally knowing what doesn't work so we can keep trying to figure what will work.'

3. Remind your team of your successes.
No one wants to follow someone who doesn't have a plan or isn't sure how to respond. Let your employees know you've been through difficult times in the past and how you overcame them. Tell them your story. Let them know about your optimism for the future. People don't work for a company. They work for their direct supervisor ' and right now they want to follow someone they trust and who inspires confidence.

What are some ways that you're showing appreciation to your employees right now? I'd love to see them. Drop me an email at jongoldman@brandlauncher.com and let me know.

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