We here in the Midwest are just finishing up one of the hottest summers we can remember. We actually finally had some 100°F days again. If you are like many of us, you have reduced your staff in the last couple of years to help you through the serious economic downturn. That means that your staff, both office and field, have had to really work exceptionally hard to take care of your customers. Both office and field personnel have put in considerable extra effort during this delightfully hot spell.

Many of these people took pay cuts, reduced hours, or other reductions in order to help the company survive. Now they have been putting in extra work in order to keep our customers happy during these hot times. We could take the approach that these personnel should just be happy that they have a job during these times of excessive unemployment. On the other hand, we as employers need to think about how we feel when we go out of our way to make extra effort to do something for someone and that extra effort is not even acknowledged. I believe that this is an important time for us to personally express to our people that we appreciate the extra effort that they have put out.

Studies and consultants have reported for years that the No. 1 thing that an employee would like from his job is recognition of his work. It always ranks higher than many of the things we, as employers, feel would be higher like wages, benefits, etc. As a result, this is an excellent time for us to take advantage of the position we are in where we have a number of employees who have worked over and above the call of duty on behalf of the company.

This is the time to get each of them aside and personally thank them for the extra effort they have extended. You know which employees gave exceptional performances and take the opportunity to let them know that you are aware that they performed exceptionally. If possible, give them some type of token of appreciation that will be a reminder to them that you do in fact appreciate their extra effort. The size of the token of appreciation is not as important as the fact that you are recognizing and acknowledging their performance.

We are all aware that the employment situation is such that anyone with a job should, in fact, be happy to have that job. But we should also be aware that sometime in the future the pendulum is going to swing the other way and there will be more jobs than there are employees available to fill them. When we get to those times, we want to make sure we have done the right things for our people in order to make sure that we retain the best ones. Typically the good people we want to retain are the same ones who have made an extra effort on our behalf during these busy times.

It will not take a great deal of commitment on your part as a contractor to take advantage of this opportunity. However, in the long run I believe it will pay exceptional benefits to you and your employees. After all, it is not that often that we have such an obvious opportunity to acknowledge the performance of our employees, something that is so high on their wish list.