Tightrope: Incentives for your workers are good for you, too

— -- Dear Gladys,

I have a good staff of people working for my property management company. And, they have helped me to build a successful business. I want to show them that I appreciate them and the work they do. My problem is, I am not sure how I should do it. I give periodic pay raises and I give good benefits. But I want to do more. What do you suggest?

Martin B.

There are many ways to express your appreciation to your employees. I asked several entrepreneurs what they do to show employee appreciation and picked up a few ideas you might try.

Jerry, a friend who is president of a midsize company, takes advantage of all holidays and buys gifts appropriate to the holiday. For Valentine's Day he buys candy for all staff members, male and female. For Christmas he gives a small gift along with a financial bonus. He passes these gifts out at the company hoilday party. For the Fourth of July he takes the entire staff to an amusement park for a company picnic.

Jerry's company is growing fast. And he knows that it takes happy and satisfied employees to keep a company profitable. His employees appear to be quite happy with their workplace.

You don't have to adopt Jerry's ideas, but perhaps you can get a hint of what you might want to consider.

Best Buys have a large sign at one of the premier parking spots in their lot that says: "Employee of the month parking space." That can make a staff person feel quite special.

Mary, another entrepreneur I know, hosts "family night" once a month at a restaurant for her staff and their families.

One of the supermarkets I frequent displays a large photo and words of gratitude for their top employees each month.

Mick, an entrepreneur in the construction business, gets his staff and their families together once a year and takes them on an all-expense paid vacation.

Another entrepreneur I know provides both childcare and elder care assistance to employees.

Martin, an entrepreneur who owns a construction company, gives his employees a shorter work week without cutting their salaries.

There are many ways to say thank you. Find what works best for you and your employees. You and your business will benefit.

Gladys Edmunds' Entrepreneurial Tightrope column appears Wednesdays. Click here for an index of her columns. As a single, teen-age mom, Gladys made money doing laundry, cooking dinners for taxi drivers and selling fire extinguishers and Bibles door-to-door. Today, Edmunds is founder of Edmunds Travel Consultants in Pittsburgh and author of There's No Business Like Your Own Business, a six-step guide to success published by Viking. Her website is www.gladysedmunds.com. You can e-mail her at gladys@gladysedmunds.com.