Saying goodbye is never easy, whether it’s a relative, friend, or coworker. Last month, I was sad to say goodbye to my dear colleague, Ron Rajecki, who has been the editor of FROSTlines for the last three years. Ron has decided to pursue another “adventure” in the HVAC industry, and he leaves behind some very large shoes to fill. Ron is definitely one-of-a-kind — funny, smart, and extremely generous. That’s a rare combination to find in a friend, let alone a coworker, and I will miss his humorous musings on life. As you probably will, too.

Which brings me to the topic of appreciation. As Joni Mitchell famously sang, “Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone.” I don’t think I ever told Ron that I appreciated his sense of humor or the concise way he summarized complicated refrigerant issues in The NEWS. I often thought about saying something, but I never followed through, thinking, “I’ll say something next time I talk to him.” But then I got busy with other things, and I forgot.

Showing appreciation is important in every facet of life, but particularly in the workplace. Numerous surveys show that appreciation often ranks higher than salary when it comes to job satisfaction. And if employees are satisfied with their jobs, they tend to stick around a little longer. That’s really important now, as many refrigeration contractors struggle to find and retain skilled employees. Yes, it’s important to pay your people well, but it’s just as important to tell them, “You did a great job. I’m so glad you work here.”

And, really, showing appreciation is that simple. Years ago, I had a boss who sent me a handwritten card about twice a year, telling me that even though he didn’t say it often, he appreciated the work I did for the company. I still have those cards posted on my bulletin board. Another easy, inexpensive way to show appreciation is through the use of a “goody” drawer. A contractor I once interviewed told me he had an “Atta Boy” drawer he kept filled with small tokens of appreciation. At weekly meetings, he would call out one or two technicians who did a particularly good job and let them pick an item from the drawer, which usually consisted of gift cards to local restaurants and shops.

Still another contractor said he regularly sends electronic Amazon gift cards to employees who just make his life easier by doing their jobs well, showing up on time, and generally having a great attitude. He also recognizes the recipients at staff meetings, so coworkers can show their appreciation as well — usually with a round of applause.

Pizza parties, time off, snacks in the break room, breakfast with the boss, etc., are just a few of the easy, inexpensive ways to show employees that you appreciate all their hard work. And you never know when even a small gesture like that could lead a valued employee to stay rather than leave.

So, while I’m sad to say goodbye to Ron — and I want to tell him, belatedly, how much I appreciated having him as a coworker — I am very excited to say hello to all of you. Please feel free to contact me with any ideas or suggestions you may have for making FROSTlines even better. I guarantee that I will appreciate all your feedback!

Publication date: 3/7/2018

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