A great pizza place in my neighborhood shuttered its doors last week, not because of a lack of business, but because of a lack of employees. The reality is, no matter what type of organization you run, employee retention has become a red blinking light on your dashboard that you can no longer ignore.  That’s why showing appreciation to your workers must become your focus in “the new normal.”

Start simply by sitting down with your team (or allowing them to answer via an anonymous survey) to find out how good you really are at saying “thank you.”  You might be surprised to learn that you don’t say those two important words nearly enough. Realize too that just words of affirmation alone aren’t enough for most of us to feel truly appreciated. Combine your “thank you’s” with meaningful actions.  Even if you can’t offer a bonus or a pay raise right now, you can probably afford some extra time off at some point. Lunches out and small, thoughtful gifts are also good ways to help the team know your “thank you” is more than just something nice to hear now and then.

Listening is even more important than what you say.  Help your team realize that they matter by soliciting, then implementing their ideas on how to improve the workflow and the workplace. Give credit where credit is due.  Celebrate the success of a team member idea.

All of us want to have a place to belong and to feel like our work matters.  Help connect your team to your mission, that cause that is greater than themselves. For Christian radio and non-profits, your mission factors down to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the greatest cause in the world.  Your main job as a leader is to help everyone every day feel connected to the Gospel.  It’s far too easy for administrative workers to feel disconnected from the mission of what you do. Help them see their work as important and celebrate the fact that they are making valuable contributions to the advancement of the Kingdom.

Building a great culture depends on showing appreciation, and it’s not just for leaders. Teach your team members to show appreciation to one another, as well.  Realistically, not everyone grew up in a home where saying “thank you” was the norm. Make it part of your expectations and reward team members who truly excel at it.

Showing appreciation is not only the best strategy to retain key team members, it’s also the right thing to do. Verbally and demonstratively let everyone in the organization know they are valued.  Take the time to listen and implement great ideas, giving credit where credit is due. Model and expect gratitude from everyone because that’s what truly builds healthy teams and great cultures.


Jerry Grimes
Vice President of Creative Services
Positive Alternative Radio

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