14 simple ways to show your employees you love them

It is really hard being the boss. Employees generally assume the boss is just being the boss by not doing much, doesn’t understand their pain or how much work they do. Some even think the boss doesn’t know anything about the job. I know this because I was once an employee and that’s exactly how I felt. I thought the directors were just handing down all kinds of laws without knowing first hand what we did everyday – but ever since I became the boss I realised I was beginning to look alot like my ex-boss. There were policies I had to put in place to make sure my business stayed alive but at the same time I had to be cautious about how tough they were by making it a win-win for all concerned. I have also come to realise that the boss really knows much of what you do, they have been there before, they have done it all and can still do it – now it’s the employees’s turn.

I have been running my mum’s school for about 8months now and everyone knows how hard teachers work and sometimes they feel underpaid and undervalued. The truth is in Nigeria, teachers don’t earn a great deal of money except in very few international schools and alot of them are frustrated. Having a teacher who hates his or her job is the worst thing you could do to a child – the child will suffer for it and it will be reflected in their performance. However, I have thought hard about this and have come up with 14 simple ways to show your employees you love them. They will feel loved, appreciated, and happy with what they do. They will also love their jobs.

  1. Have a role and job title. When I started running my mum’s school, everyone called me junior madam (my mum being the main madam). I hated it. It made no sense to me. Seeing as I wasn’t into primary education and didn’t touch the academic side of things but did most of the admin work, ran the business on a daily basis and did all the B2B communications and purchases, and all manner of things that had to do with running a business, I decided to name myself Head of Admin, Business and Resources. To have a job title, you need to make sure it tallies with what you do most of the time if you are the business owner. You need to have an active role to go with that office 😉

  2. Be a servant leader and DIY. You need to perform some tasks yourself. Do you need to make a photocopy? Is the photocopier steps away from you? Or maybe you need a cup of coffee and the staff room or coffee room is nearby or you possibly have a coffee station in your office? Then get up and do it yourself. I do alot of things myself it actually troubles my employees and most of the time they tell me not to bother but I ignore them and go ahead. They rush to help with my bags when I arrive but I say “thank you, don’t worry about it”. This they find shocking as in Nigeria business owners and management are used to having their staff run around them. The truth is I am used to getting things done myself and don’t see it as a big deal. When I lived in London, my manager at work got things done herself and it never bothered me to see her do them. I don’t know how it worked with her own managers and the directors but I want to believe they weren’t into “slave trade”

  3. Know them by name. Yes you need to know the people who work directly under you. You need to know their first names at least and if possible their last names and that of their spouses and kids. When you call them by name, they feel recognised. They know you care. When you ask about their kids and say “How was Kate’s dance perfomance last night?” They feel happy you remembered that little detail about their child. It took a few minutes to learn the names of all the staff at my mum’s school and less than 3 months to learn the names of all the students and recognise their parents. I didn’t just sit in my office, I attended the students’ drama and dance rehearsals and contributed when and where necessary. The parents got to know me before I even met them. Be involved at work – don’t seperate yourself from your staff.

  4. Listen to them. There will be times your employees will need you to really listen to them. They will come to seek permission to leave work early, they will complain about their salaries and certain aspects of their job. Listen to them. Leaving work earlier than they should (for genuine reasons) might mean you have to break some policies – if it doesn’t harm anyone or the business then grant them their desire but make it clear it is a one off and give them reasons why they are permitted. Some employees are chronic early-to-leave-work types, as a leader you should know how to deal with this.

  5. Give them feedback. When they complain, make a suggestion, seek permission etc, you need to give them feedback. Don’t ignore them and hope they get the message. If your answer is no then tell them it’s no and why.

  6. Seek their opinion. Don’t just seek it for the sake of it or because you need to prove you support worker involvement. Meet with them regularly, one-on-one and as a group. Share with them details of what’s going on in the company (not everything 😉 ), ask for their opinions through staff meetings, focus groups and surveys. Show you care about their opinion by making necessary changes. If their suggestion won’t work, tell them why. They will appreciate you for it.

  7. Reward them. Recognise them and the work they do. This doesn’t always have to be with money or a physical gift. It could be time off work, permission to work the next day from home, a weekend away for 2 or with their family if you/the company can afford it. You can also have a staff of the month corner and put up their photo for all to see! When you put up their photo, state clearly why they have been chosen as the staff of the month. Knowing why they were chosen and seeing that they are recognised for all they do will boost their self esteem and make them work harder and more efficiently.

  8. Train and develop them. People love to receive relevant training. Don’t waste your money and their time sending them to every course under the earth just to prove you are a company that trains people. Make sure they attend a course that is relevant to their job, that will develop them and bless them with new skills. I have attended training sessions in the past that at the end I just wondered “why?”.

  9. Feed them. People love food, good food. Everytime the teachers at my mum’s school are to attend a seminar or training session, they ask for food. I don’t oblige them everytime especially if the seminar will last just 1 hour but more often than not, I have something plannned. When it is a cooked meal, they rejoice and show appreciation. This is not to say you should feed them all the time, only do it when necesary or as a gift to the team. If your company can afford it, you can provide a cooked lunch everyday. My sister teaches at a British school here in Nigeria and she gets a nice meal everyday!

  10. Take them out. Your staff will appreciate you for that outing, retreat or team bonding session. This is a much needed opportunity for them to relax and take a break from their jobs. They will be able to spend time with their colleagues without having to discuss work or solve problems. They will come back to work refreshed and ever ready for the tasks ahead.

  11. Forgive them. There will be times when your employees will cross the line, break a rule, fail to meet a deadline and even cause you to lose some money. Forgive them. It is not everytime you should issue a warning. By letting go, they will be in more shock than you were in when you found out about their mistake or miscounduct. Understand that no one is perfect and no one knows it all. People are bound to make mistakes but bouncing back and not making that mistake ever again is more important than punishing them. Sometimes punishment leaves their ego bruised for life and it affects everything else that they do.

  12. Support them. There will be sad times. There will be happy times. Cry with them. Laugh with them. Be there for them. Attend their and their kids wedding, funerals, birthday parties etc. In Nigeria there is something we call aso ebi. I hope I explain what it is properly – aso ebi is like a uniform (not a uniform). For example, if you are getting married, you could get a particular fabric in bulk and get your friends and family to buy so that everyone or most of your guests have the same fabric on but different styles. It is usually a beautiful sight when lots of people are gathered and have a similar look. If you have to buy your staff’s aso ebi to show your support then do it. My mum does it all the time and ensures that the teachers support one another by buying it and attending! I have now been initiated.

  13. Give them additional responsibilities. Giving your staff extra responsibilities outside of their main role shows you believe in them and can trust them to do certain things. Don’t give them tasks because you hate doing them yourself but rather give them tasks that will improve them and hopefully take them to the next level in their career. Make sure they undertand the task and give them support to succeed in their added responsibility if needed.

  14. Fulfil your promises. Yes all your promises in your staff handbook, policies and their employment offer letter must be fulfilled. If you can’t and won’t then don’t make the promise in the first place. When they met with you and you promised to get back to them or give them what they requested then be honest enough to deliver. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be careful not to rush into decisions you think appear good – after careful consideration, you will find out that idea isn’t fantastic at all and might be difficult to change.

Is there anything else you can think of? Please add your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Read my post on loving your employers.