The benefits of making your employees feel valued can impact almost every aspect of your business. However, a huge percentage of leaders completely overlook this vital component of business, choosing instead to focus their efforts on lofty targets and grand new plans. The truth is, however, that without a workforce that feels valued—and therefore motivated and driven—things tend to fall apart pretty quickly. In the interest of that not happening, in this article we’ll take a look at a few easy, simple strategies on how to make your employees feel valued.

Why should you aim to make your employees feel valued?

Okay, so this question sounds pretty obvious at the outset. Employees should feel valued because they deserve to be happy and appreciated in the workplace—enough said. Beyond this however, research has found that gratitude shown by leaders encourages employees to be more productive day to day, as well as more sociable and collaborative in the workplace. In addition, their self-belief increases notably, meaning that right across the board, improvements are visible where gratitude is given.

Time and time again, research proves to us that positive reinforcement and displays of gratitude are dynamite for mobilising employees and encouraging effective teamwork. They also show greater levels of innovation and are more likely to stick around rather than looking for work elsewhere. But even if some managers do try to show their appreciation in the workplace, they often get muddled as to how to do this effectively. If you want to learn how to make your employees feel valued, follow these steps.

How to make your employees feel valued

1.   Look for the positives

It all begins with a change of mindset—your mindset, that is. Rather than only picking up on negative behaviours and discouraging them (known as negative reinforcement), instead actively search for the good your team is doing each day, and make a conscious effort to acknowledge this behaviour. Your own thought patterns, whether negative or positive, can impact the way you observe your team. So think good thoughts!

2.   Ask for opinions

As a leader, you should regularly be taking on board the opinions of your team anyway—but for making them feel valued, it’s especially important. Request advice from your team on various issues, and show willingness to both listen to and implement their ideas. Requesting people’s insight on an issue demonstrates your faith in them, which in turn makes them feel trusted and valued as a member of the team.

3.   Make sure you’re always communicating

The illusion of transparency is a phenomenon in which we overestimate the ability of others to read our mood. If this sounds like you, make sure you’re constantly giving indicators to your team that you have noticed their efforts and are happy with them, such as verbal praise or written notes. Don’t simply rely on your team to interpret your body language. Saying nothing at all is very easily interpreted as ‘I’m unimpressed’.

4.   Applaud effort

It could be as simple as a phrase like ‘great job there, you’ve done really well’, or ‘you’ve worked your socks off on this one, thank you’. That’s not so hard, is it? These phrases take half a second to say, but they are crucial when learning how to make your employees feel valued. The more you cheerlead them, the more your team will actively put in that extra effort.

5.   Reward success

It’s down to you how you reward your team when you hit your targets. It might be a monetary reward, or a day off, or a voucher. It might be an ‘employee of the month’ award, a thank you letter, or simply a sincere comment on the quality of their work (within earshot of their colleagues, naturally). The key thing is to match the reward to the result. Big result? Big reward!

6.   Enable your employees to grow

Gratitude doesn’t just mean kind words and gifts. Show your team that you take both themselves and their ambition seriously by investing in them and offering them opportunities to train and grow. Open doors for them, and help boost them up in their careers. Their loyalty in return will be far firmer.

7.   Celebrate milestones

If your employee has a company anniversary, make a song and a dance about it. You should be happy they’ve thought highly of your company to stick around—if they’re still with you, it means you’re doing something right. Birthdays too, and Christmases—celebrate milestones within the company, and give your employees regular things to look forward to.

8.   Show empathy

Life is unpredictable. If a team member falls upon hard times, be ready to support them. This might be within candid conversations, or by offering time off for mental health when necessary. Show understanding and empathy for the troubles your team experiences, and in return your team will respect you and feel profoundly loyal to your leadership.

9.   Give a sense of purpose

Meetings on the general trajectory of the company aren’t solely for upper management. By regularly informing your team of the wider company strategy, and how they fit into it, you instil a sense of ownership in your employees, and a powerful motivating feeling of working together towards a common goal. When each team member feels as though they are contributing something important, they will feel valued.

10.   Give breaks!

One of the most overlooked parts of learning how to make your employees feel valued is to give them a break. When one big project or piece of work is finished, allow them time to breathe and reflect and discuss before leaping into the next project. This needn’t be a huge amount of time, but for example, if your team have had their noses to the grindstone to get a project over the line, allow them an early finish or even a day off to enable them to reset their work-life balance. You’ll reap the benefits in the long term—that’s a promise!