An Atmosphere of Encouragement Makes a Great Christmas Gift
By Gary Kauffman
For many small business owners, the approaching Christmas holiday is one that brings joy but can also add a bit of stress. Employees, deservedly so, expect something from the owner for Christmas, but what should that be: An office party, a bonus, a gift card, possibly a fruit cake (no, never a fruit cake. Cross that off your list).
Depending on the size and health of the business, these Christmas gifts can put a dent in either the company or personal budget, perhaps both. But there is one gift that comes at no cost and may be the most meaningful of all to an employee – encouragement.
Now, I’m not advocating that you don’t give a Christmas bonus of some kind. A bonus is always appropriate, even if it can only be a token amount. But in addition, and as a continuing gift throughout the year, add in some encouragement, thanks and praise.
Too often, we can go through life offering comments only when someone underperformed or made a mistake. I had a baseball coach like that once – he was quick and effusive with his criticism, but praise and encouragement was not a part of his vocabulary. The only way you knew you were performing well was when he didn’t say anything.
In 1 Thess. 5:11, Paul tells believers, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” In Eph. 4:29 he says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
This doesn’t have to be some effusive, wordy display – even something as simple as telling an employee, “I really appreciate that you’re always on time” can be an encouragement. Noticing when they did a job well, and mentioning it, is important. And it is even more important to give a verbal gift when an employee goes above and beyond.
Of course, employees will not always perform perfectly. Sometimes stepping in with a bit of extra training, or assistance with a tough project, creates an environment of encouragement and gratitude that leads to better performance and eliminates mistakes.
Speaking encouragement to the employees creates a culture of employees building up one another as well. This creates a happy environment where employees enjoy working. And if your employees enjoy working there, your customers will be much happier, too. And if you have happy employees and customers, your job as business owner becomes much more pleasant.
Best of all, this gift of encouragement costs you nothing except a little extra attention and making the effort to reward people with thanks and praise. It’s a great gift – but don’t forget the monetary presents as well. Otherwise you might end up with a stocking stuffed with coal. Or worse, a fruitcake.