Generosity in the workplace is often something we think of from a monetary or philanthropic standpoint. In the context of running a business, generosity is a core quality that people look for in their leaders. Research shows people want to work for business leaders who are generous with their knowledge, time, credit, information, and belief in their employees’ potential.

In turn, owners and managers who are generous engender respect and goodwill, and their employees often respond in kind. Adam Grant, author of the book Give and Take, says, “Givers see the best in people and communicate in ways that build trust and show respect for other people’s perspectives. [People] want to be more like them, following this lead, spreading this norm, modeling this behavior.”

As a small business owner, giving back to your employees, not only during the holidays but all year long, helps foster a workplace culture of generosity. Here are just a few of the ways you can demonstrate a “spirit of giving” and motivate your team to do the same.

Give information.

In a survey on effective motivation published by 1000 Ventures, individuals ranked wanting to be “in on things” one of the most important factors in workplace satisfaction. One surefire way to meet this need is to share information. Keep your teams posted on where things stand and plans for the future. Give managers the information they need to make well-informed decisions. When assigning work, communicate your expectations clearly so people understand what is expected of them. Set junior staff up for success by giving them the guidance and support to get the job done. Freely sharing your expertise and ideas is not only beneficial for employees, it is good for business.

Give people a sense of importance.

In her book, In Search of Honor: Lessons from Workers in How to Build Trust, Adele Lynn notes that 55 percent of workers cite “a sense of importance” as the key to building trust in the workplace. Consider the actions you can take to make people feel that the work they do is important and that they are essential members of your team. When it comes to enhancing employee engagement, it is critical that company leaders make people feel they are fundamental to the success of the organization.

Give time.

As a business owner, being generous with your time is one of the most effective ways to give back to your team. If you have an open door policy, make sure you are prepared to invest the time needed to listen to staff concerns. Make it a point to take managers out for a cup of coffee and discuss their day-to-day. Carve out time on a regular basis to give employees feedback and offer guidance. Making it a priority to connect with your staff shows them how vital they are to you and your business.

Give encouragement.

Giving your people encouragement often requires going beyond showing your appreciation. Thanking someone for their hard work is not the same thing as expressing genuine admiration for their skills or talents. Instead of simply telling employees they’ve done a great job, be generous with your praise. Let them know how much you’ve appreciated their help or that a project would not have been as successful without them. Single out those who may be in need of encouragement and resolve to provide support and motivation.

Give opportunity.

Giving someone a chance is arguably one of the greatest gifts of all. Identify a colleague or vendor who would appreciate a second chance and take steps to help them to succeed. Consider opening doors for a deserving employee or associate who is not in a position to be noticed. Give them greater visibility by offering access to senior leaders. Putting in a good word on their behalf or simply saying something positive about their work to the boss could be planting the seeds for future career development. In the true spirit of giving, do it anonymously.

Give ideas and knowledge.

What knowledge, expertise, or best practices can you share for the benefit of others? Being generous means making your ideas, knowledge, and expertise available in order to contribute to the collective learning of your team. Sharing your professional successes and admitting your mistakes is equally valuable, especially to employees who are just starting their careers.

Give credit where it’s due.

People want to be told they are doing a great job. One study concluded that 78 percent of employees say it’s “extremely important” to be recognized by their managers for good work. Recognize not only star performers, but individuals and teams who have done great work. Send an email to higher ups if you’re a manager. If you’re the boss, give credit where it’s due during the next company staff meeting.

Generosity in the workplace goes beyond fundraising or volunteering for a good cause. Regardless of the size of your organization or how profitable you may be, cultivating the spirit of giving with time, expertise, and encouragement will provide countless benefits to you, your team, and your business.

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