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season that resonate with everyone, and you’ll avoid awkward situations and unneeded controversy. GIVE MEANINGFULLY Sorry to say it, but nobody on your team is going to remember the cookie-cutter, generically messaged cards you printed off en masse. There’s no use in giving meaningless gifts to employees or colleagues out of a sense of obligation. Put some thought into it, and your staff will be thankful. If you have a small team, you can probably come up with something personalized for each employee. Gift-giving at the office shouldn’t be required, but it shouldn’t be forbidden, either. Again, the key is to create an atmosphere where people can participate in what they want to and opt out of what they don’t. A powerful way to put the spirit of giving to good use is to partner with local charities to provide presents to children in your area who are underprivileged. There are countless
organizations that do this sort of work, and it’s a way for your company to give back to the community. That’s a type of shopping even Scrooge could get on board with. DECORATE TASTEFULLY It’s cute when a kindergarten classroom features a hodgepodge of amateur holiday decorations, but it’s less charming at a place of business. You have to create rules to keep decorations to a level below outrageous, especially if you have customers visit your office. In general, it’s a good idea to mark which spaces can and can’t be decorated and set some boundaries in terms of what’s acceptable. You also need to monitor how much time decorating takes away from work. If teams want to make paper stockings at their weekly meetings, you should allow it. However, if somebody wants to spend multiple hours to really get in the spirit — time that could be spent on other tasks — don’t feel bad about asking them to clock out for it. Decorating
may be within the purview of the role of office manager, but it’s certainly not what you’re paying salespeople to do. THANK PEOPLE RELENTLESSLY Gratitude is one of the core values of the holidays, making it the perfect time to express your appreciation to your staff. You should give props and share kind words year-round, but upping your efforts during the holidays will have a huge impact. For some businesses, the holiday season is the busiest time of the year. For others, it’s the slowest. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, odds are you have employees who are stretched thin and expending extra effort. Maybe they’re covering for others on vacation. Perhaps they’re juggling work and creating a memorable season for their kids. Acknowledging their presence and thanking them for all the work they’ve done this year is bound to put a smile on their faces.
THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? Why Nurturing Employees and Customers Is the Key to Retention
Who comes first: employees or customers? When posed this classic business question, Southwest Airlines co-founder Herb Kelleher had an easy answer: employees. “If employees are treated right, they treat the outside world right,” Kelleher explained. As Kelleher knows well, employee-customer relations are a cycle — one that fuels recurring business. Engaged employees deliver service that converts to sales, a fact backed up by a Gallup report. Gallup cited a 20 percent increase in sales as a result of this process. Even as you’re courting leads, you can’t ignore your existing customers. Likewise, even (and especially) as you grow, you have to nurture your employees. The cost of losing either is too high. In the holiday rush, it’s important to not lose sight of your priorities.
Starbucks is a great example. Even with thick competition, they deliver consistent service and quality products to customers, whether in Oregon or London. And they do this by providing competitive wages and benefits to their employees along with training and learning opportunities. Employees who are knowledgeable and excited about what they are offering pass their enthusiasm on to customers.
OWN UP TO MISTAKES.
Even the best businesses make mistakes. When it happens, own up to it. There’s probably been a time when you put in your order at a restaurant, only to receive the wrong thing. How did the business handle it? Did they admit their mistake and offer you a new meal? How a business treats customers when things don’t go smoothly is a good indication of how they’ll handle adversity in general, and that reaction starts with employees. Set the precedent for employees that a mistake is their opportunity to go above and beyond. A transparent environment will make employees feel more comfortable, which will make customers excited, rather than apprehensive, to engage with your business again.
GET THEM HOOKED ON YOUR SERVICE.
Have you ever asked a client why they return to your business? Do you think it’s because they can’t find your product or service anywhere else? Probably not. Think about the last time you returned to a restaurant. Was it because it’s the only place in town that makes amazing Thai food? Maybe, but it’s more likely that you enjoyed the welcoming host, attentive waiter, and positive experience you had there.
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