Sharing the love with your employees

This Valentine’s Day, Delta Air Lines will give its 90,000 employees a $1.6 billion bonus (US!).

It’s one of the biggest corporate profit-sharing announcements in history. And it’s a spectacular way to give back to employees, for several reasons.

First, the bonuses are meaningful. They amount to about two months of salary for each employee. (And it’s not the first time Delta has done this.)

Second, a company is made successful not by a single CEO, but by its team, whether it’s a team of two or a team of 90,000. It’s important to recognize that. Delta reported $4.8 billion in profits last year, and it’s giving a third of that back to employees.

It makes good business sense. Imagine the service you might receive from a flight attendant who was told he or she will be laid off at the end of the month. Now picture instead the service you might receive from someone who just received a bonus worth 17% of their annual salary, and who feels loved and valued by their employer?

This brings me to my third point: happy and engaged employees treat your customers differently than unhappy, overworked and unengaged employees.

Do your employees feel the love?

Not every company is in a position to meaningfully profit-share with their employees.

But every company is in a position to share a little bit of love, compassion and kindness with the team that makes a business possible.

The first step is to take stock of how you’ve shown your employees that they are valued by you. When was an employee’s last raise? Have you told your staff lately that they are doing a good job? Did you have a Christmas party or end-of-year celebration? Is an employee team-building day or staff outing on the books?

I also encourage clients to listen and observe. Pay attention to morale, check-in with your team and measure the energy and mood of your team on any given day. How are they treating your customers? Do they show up early and filled with enthusiasm? Are they excelling at their tasks?

Engagement is different from productivity and work. There are expectations with every job, and those should be met whether an employee is engaged or not.

But as I’ve written about before, employee engagement is key to retaining employees, to boosting productivity and to ensuring your staff delivers exceptional customer service.

Lessons from Delta’s Valentine’s Day gift

Here are my three takeaways from the Delta news on sharing the love with employees:

  1. A gift card to a nice steakhouse might be a great thank-you gift for some employees, but probably not for the vegan on your team. If you want to sincerely thank your employees for their work, make sure your efforts are meaningful from their perspective. It’s the thought that counts. Make it personal to show you know and value them.
  2. It doesn’t have to be two months of pay, but a gift should, again, meaningfully reflect an employee’s contributions. Most practices I work with aren’t relying on walk-ins – they rely on recallers. The people who fill up your appointment book are responsible for bringing you revenue. If you make a profit, it is in part thanks to them. If you keep patients for life, it’s in part because of the way they were treated by your staff. This is worth recognizing.
  3. Many successful optometry practices go above and beyond for their customers. Why wouldn’t you do this for your staff? Between recalling, waiting for their appointment and eyewear shopping, patients may very well end up spending more time with your team than with their optometrist. Kindness, happiness and love can be contagious: employees who feel valued by you are more likely to go above and beyond for your customers.

How do you reward and engage your employees? Do you do anything special around Valentine’s Day?

Let me know – I’d love to hear from you.