Today’s workforce is motivated by how their companies and bosses make them feel. Employees who leave their jobs often do so because they sense a lack of gratitude for their hard work. Providing praise and meaningful recognition for their achievements is one of the most impactful and effective ways for small business owners to maintain a happy, productive workforce.

While giving your staff feedback and acknowledging their contributions is crucial every month of the year, it is especially important during what is often a hectic fourth quarter. Spending a few moments expressing your thanks not only boosts a person’s self-esteem, it may also lead to increased productivity, positive attitudes, and improved workplace relationships.

Just as it does in our personal lives, Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity to show appreciation for those who keep your small business afloat (much like the balloons in the annual Macy’s parade). Here are five simple ways to show hardworking employees your gratitude:

1 – Offer praise during scheduled check-ins.

One-on-one check-ins with team members are designed to track progress and delineate assignments. However, these weekly or monthly touch-base meetings provide you and your leadership team with a rich opportunity to acknowledge your staff’s ongoing success. Unlike annual reviews, which may be more formal and goal-oriented, you can use the time for more relaxed and personal engagement. Express your thanks for the individual’s recent accomplishments, and be sure to cite specific examples of where he or she has risen above what is normally asked of them.

2 – Celebrate team successes.

When it comes to achieving small business goals, collaboration can make the difference between success and failure. This means that your company’s success is likely the result of a team effort, and it is important to recognize it as such. Business leaders who selfishly bask in the glory of their staff accomplishments can fuel resentment, and resentment can lead to turnover.

Instead, focus on celebrating big wins with your team. Call out key employees who may have been instrumental in bringing ideas and goals to fruition. A Society for Human Resource Management report found that 71 percent of respondents believe the appreciation shown by a direct supervisor has the highest impact on employee engagement in their organization. Humility and appreciation go a long way during the holidays and throughout the year.

3 – Model an attitude of gratitude.

Recognizing your employees’ successes creates a positive organizational culture, and modeling an attitude of gratitude can inspire others in the organization to follow your lead. One way to promote the spirit of Thanksgiving among your staff is to facilitate a group activity that gives them a chance to express appreciation for their co-workers.

Gather everyone together, write each staff member’s name on a piece of paper, and have each person draw one name. Starting with yourself, go around the room and ask each employee to share one thing they appreciate about the person whose name they have drawn. Just a few moments of positive reflection, combined with the public acknowledgement of the skills and support each team member brings to the workplace, can have a long-lasting impact on employee morale and motivation.

4 – Give thanks as a group.

Expressing gratitude does not need to be confined to the workplace. Doing something charitable for those in your community may provide as big of a boost to company morale as a holiday party or financial bonus. Work with your team to initiate a food drive, a winter coat collection, or a fundraiser for a local organization. Allow staff to take time off to volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. Giving back as a group not only supports neighbors in need, but it can be a powerful team-building activity.

5 – Be generous.

Sometimes actions do speak louder than words. Surprise your staff by having breakfast or lunch delivered or buying a round of drinks after work. Give employees small incentives for going above and beyond, like a gift card or a monetary bonus.

If money is not an option, there are plenty of inexpensive ways to let your staff know how much you appreciate their continued hard work. For example, give the gift of time. Close the office early the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or on Fridays during the holidays. (If someone isn’t able to take time off, let him or her know they can take comp time in the future.) Reward consistently stellar performers with a bonus day off or consider handing out “performance hours” tokens they can redeem for a longer lunch or an afternoon off.

As simple as it may seem, showing genuine gratitude, appreciation, and respect in business has never been more important. Remember that when it comes to acknowledging the most valuable asset in your workplace – the people who are invested in your success – the words “thank you” can be extremely powerful.

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