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Christmas is a time when we consider our blessings and show our appreciation to those around us. As I discussed a couple of weeks ago, the focus of your business should not be on the bottom line alone. True success and a lasting legacy is determined by the impact that you make on those around you.
Your Business as a Good Citizen
If you run a business, you have a wide reach. Businesses play an important role in making the community they are a part of a desirable place to live. We have many small businesses in our area that make our community a special place to be by investing in and giving back.
Each business is also a community in itself. As you finish out the year and look at your year-end reports, don’t forget to take the temperature of the culture and sense of community within your business. Is it a place where employees feel valued or is it one where they feel dismissed? Do they come to work and feel like they make a difference and contribute to the common goal or is it a place of stress and contention?
There are times when culture is sacrificed, in an effort to boost profits. This is a short-sighted strategy if your goal is to build a business with longevity.
No One Makes It Alone
We have this idealized vision of the “self-made man,” but really there is no such thing. For every successful person, if they are honest, there have been many hands helping them along the way; whether it was a teacher who took the time to go the extra mile when they were young, friends who encouraged and supported an idea, or a professional mentor that gave a helping hand.
While a founder may have an idea, every successful business is helped along the way by employees who contribute their time and their talent. It is not just about contracts and accounts, the people who help man your ship in the ocean of commerce are just as important..
Your Business and the Spirit of Christmas
All of us are familiar with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It has been retold and reworked in movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life to countless renditions on Lifetime. The message Dickens gave in the mid-nineteenth century in the middle of the Industrial Revolution is the same one that Jack Welch gives to business owners today, “Put people first.”
As the ghost of Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol said:
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing his hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business.”
Scrooge was given a second chance to make a course correction and adjust his priorities. For the savvy business owner, the welfare of employees and giving back to the community of which they are a part should always be part of the business plan.
Gratitude is Key
Christmas and the end of the year are often a time when businesses give holiday bonuses. However, did you know that compensation is actually not the primary determinant of employee satisfaction? It’s not. Multiple studies have shown that appreciation is the number one factor.
So how can you show your employees that you recognize and appreciate the contribution they make?
Write a card of appreciation and tell them a specific thing that you appreciate about the job they do. This might be when they went an extra mile to finish a job, or when they showed extraordinary patience with a difficult customer. Maybe it is that they do an excellent job training others, or they pay attention to detail.
What is their primary character quality? Are they: thoughtful, considerate, trustworthy, reliable, respectful, humble, compassionate, fair, courteous, efficient, diligent, flexible, focused, honest, determined, insightful, intuitive, creative, persuasive, perceptive, resourceful, imaginative, punctual, or cooperative? Pick one and tell them how it makes a positive impact on the team and in your business.
Don’t send it in a text, email, Facebook or Slack message. Get some pretty cards, grab a pen, and write the note by hand.
When your employees know that you value not only what they do, but who they are, they will want to do their best for you.
Grow your business from the inside out starting with your people.
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 Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol,” ed. Katharine Kroeber Wiley (New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Press, 2004), 7–88.
 Jane Burnett, “Employees Treasure This the Most When It Comes to Job Satisfaction,” Ladders, last modified November 10, 2017, accessed December 24, 2018, https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/employees-treasure-this-the-most-when-it-comes-to-job-satisfaction.
 Jacob Morgan, “The Top 10 Factors For On-The-Job Employee Happiness,” Forbes, last modified December 16, 2014, accessed December 24, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2014/12/15/the-top-10-factors-for-on-the-job-employee-happiness/.