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This Thanksgiving, show employees your gratitude

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November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays—partially because I love to eat, but mostly because it’s about celebrating and being thankful for what we have. Every year, I write about some aspect that we can focus on in our businesses and this year, I am choosing to highlight gratitude for your employees.

You work in a demanding business. There is no other profession like yours. That brings many pros and many cons. Without your people, your business would cease to exist.

While you can admit there are opportunities available to the profession to address the many challenges going on, from succession planning to leadership development, I believe we all have an opportunity to be grateful for what we have now and to show gratitude to our employees. Here are some fun and easy ideas to help show gratitude to the people that make your business.

•    Food is the language of love. After all, isn’t that the centerpiece of this wonderful holiday? There are lots of firms doing cool things, but two stood out to me recently. Kennedy & Coe and Whitley Penn recently published photos on Facebook of small, informal and impromptu treats in their office. These were even themed. Whether cookies or a nice holiday dinner out for our employees and significant other, breaking bread (or cookies) is a great way to show gratitude.

•    Showcase your employees’ accomplishments. Facebook, LinkedIn, your break room, staff meetings—celebrate your team’s accomplishments and highlight their successes. Something as simple as an email celebrating a staff member passing the CPA or getting through their first speaking event can have an immense impact on company morale and reinforce the type of behavior you want within your company. More importantly, it will show them you are grateful for their efforts and that it is important enough to recognize.

•    Recognize when they go above and beyond. Yes, we all have employees and they all have job descriptions, but that doesn’t mean everyone goes above the call of duty. Recognizing when your employees go above and beyond, whether it’s picking up the slack because you are down an employee or bending over backward to make a client happy, deserves recognition.

One CPA firm I know was down staff members going into last tax season due to unexpected departures of some key employees. That meant the rest of their employees and partners had to put in a lot more overtime than was needed. They could have lost many more people after tax season. To prevent this, they handed out small gifts of genuine interest to employees to show their gratitude. Everything from a gift card to their favorite restaurant to a magazine subscription for a personal hobby was included.

•    Don’t forget your employees’ significant others. The demands of public accounting put a lot of pressure on the other important people on your employees’ lives. The best way to show gratitude for their commitment is by recognizing the family and significant others involved.

Consider following the example of a national CPA firm. They sent gifts and messages to the employees’ families at home thanking them for their support. Another idea would be to provide concierge-type services for members of the firm. This could be as simple as having someone run to pick up dry cleaning or a prescription. Small things can go a long way.

These are just a few ideas. What ways do you show your employees you are grateful?

Sarah Johnson is the chief growth strategist with Inovautus Consulting, a firm that works with CPA, law and professional service firms to help them grow more effectively, and author of “Practical Ideas for Growth,” a blog dedicated to growing professional firms. Her counsel and strategies have helped move firms to the next level in their marketing and sales efforts. Connect with Sarah at 773-208-7170, sjohnson@inovautus.com, or www.linkedin.com/in/sjjohnson.

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