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Your Customers Won’t be Fans of your Business if your Employees Aren’t

What’s going on inside your company will be felt outside your company too. Here’s why this holiday season you should go beyond traditional employee recognition and rock the whole “surprise and delight” thing.

There’s no two ways about it – your employees are your greatest asset. Whether its back-end operations, front-line service, or team management – they are the ones working daily to live out your company’s values and deliver the results you need to hit your goals. While I think we all know how important it is to invest in your employees, I personally believe we can’t be reminded of it enough and should continuously look for new opportunities to surprise and delight our internal teams. 

 

What’s happening inside your company, will be felt outside your company

When it comes to “surprise and delight” most companies only think about this when it comes to their customers. But, as Harvard Business Review reports, there is a significant statistical connection between employee well-being and high customer satisfaction – particularly in the tourism industry. Why? Because our relationship with our homeowners and guests and the service we provide them is one of the most important factors of our business success. Employee happiness doesn’t only translate into customer happiness, it’s also vital to keeping your customers coming back and back again. Remember – in order for your company to grow, you need to ensure that a positive experience for your homeowners and guests is the norm.

Go Beyond Traditional Employee Recognition
When you read the words “employee recognition,” I’m sure a lot of standard “corporate” ideas come to mind. Maybe it’s a bonus check, a thank-you business dinner or an employee of the month feature. This holiday season, I want to encourage you to think differently. 


So, what does it mean to surprise and delight? Surprise and delight refers to doing the unexpected and doing something that is creative and empathetic. This means going beyond the usual elements that work together to strengthen employee retention, like training, employee development and more. It means creating meaningful moments for your employees that they won’t forget. The idea is that these moments are so powerful that they will have an impact throughout the culture of your business. While every company is different, I want to share some ideas below that aim to make recognition personal, valuable and unexpected.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.”

Put pen to paper
One of my team members at Vintory recently shared with me that she has never forgotten the annual holiday gesture of a CEO she used to work for many years ago. This was a CEO of a Fortune 500 company who would take the time to sit down and literally put a pen to paper to write a heartfelt thank you note to all of his staff. In the note he kept things personal. He focused on the importance of family values. He would share a personal story about his own family and encourage employees to truly disconnect and enjoy the holidays. He would send a printed copy and a digital scan of the note to all employees. It was so authentic and straight from his heart, that the message would sometimes contain errors and little scribbles in the margins. In a world where most of the messages we read are digital, or crafted by a PR pro – this human point of connection between a leader and his team stood out. Remember that even small gestures go a long way. 

 

Make your company’s values gift worthy – literally! 

At Vintory, we use the saying “the star of the team, is the team.” For us, this means that we all succeed together, and one person isn’t more important than another. It’s a reminder to act with kindness towards each other and to inspire humility at all levels. I love finding ways to link recognition to a company’s values, and one of the best ways to do that is to get in the trenches with your team to live out those values. Or, better yet, turn the tables around and be the one to provide exceptional service to your own team. The holidays are a perfect time to lead by example and demonstrate exceptional service – but focus your efforts on giving back to your employees. I recently came across a timely and impactful way to do this by setting up a company wrapping station for your employees. Let’s be honest – wrapping gifts can be a real time sucker! Ask your employees to bring in a gift or two that they’ve purchased for their family or friends and to sit back, relax, and enjoy a cup of coffee while you and your leadership team roll up your sleeves and wrap these gifts for them. It’s a perfect moment to connect with your frontline, deliver personal seasons greetings and show them through your actions that you value their contribution. To me, this is an incredible way to leave an impression on your team.

Time is the greatest gift 

Another one of our top values at Vintory is flexibility. We are results oriented and favor outcomes over hours worked. While we live this value out daily in our company, it’s still important to ensure the benefits of your values really stand out to your team. We all know that time truly is one of the greatest gifts and for most of us, we wish to spend more time with our loved ones, friends and living out our passions and dreams. 

Whether you allow for flexible work arrangements or not, this holiday season go beyond the traditional “let your employees go home an hour early on Christmas Eve” idea. 

Every company’s structure is different, so here’s a few ways to show your employees you value their time and what matters most to them personally:

  • If you have a small team, surprise each team member on a different day with an unexpected half day off  – the key is that this will be unexpected! 
  • Surprise your entire team by letting them leave early one day before the holidays begin
  • While this idea may be a bit tricky to do on the back end – go the extra mile and add an extra vacation day to the payroll for your entire team
  • Show your employees you are willing to save them time in their personal life by arranging for the delivery of breakfast treats and coffee to their home on the weekend
  • I enjoy surprising my team members with a DoorDash or UberEats credit to buy them lunch when they’re working remotely. Whether it’s treats, a meal, cleaning service or an upgrade to their remote office space – there’s lots of ways to show appreciation for your employees who are working remotely. 

While not all of the ideas I’ve shared above might appeal to you, or be possible – my goal is to inspire you to think about unique ways to invest in your employees by:

  • Living out your company’s values
  • Doing something memorable and unexpected
  • Making recognition personal and meaningful 

And again, remember that sometimes it really is the smallest gestures that go a long way – it doesn’t have to be something that requires a big budget. Whether it’s an investment of your own time, giving time back to your employees, or doing something special that does indeed require extra budget, remember the initial investment will be worth the ROI. The cost of disengaged employees, whether it’s through poor customer interactions, a job poorly done, or a decrease in employee retention is much greater than the upfront investment you can make to keep your employees engaged. 

Have you ever done something unexpected to surprise and delight your employees? Have you been on the receiving end of an inspiring act of leadership? I’d love to know! Drop me a line in the comments or send me a DM.

Author: Brooke Pfautz

Brooke is the CEO and Founder of Vintory and is well known in the Vacation Rental industry as the authority when it comes to growing Vacation Rental inventory. You'll find Brooke at his home office, on the latest Vacation Rental webinar or podcast, or at industry events across the States.

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