Remember Your Most Valuable Asset

December is always a good time for reflection and remembering those that have helped you achieve your goals and successes. This holiday season, don’t forget to recognize your most valuable asset – your employees.

There are many ways to say thank you.Ernie Kaplan, owner of Kaplan Paving for 28 years before selling in 2007, has several ideas for recognizing employees during the holidays. Here are a few simple ones:

  • Socks. “This one sounds a little strange, but it’s not,” says Kaplan. “I gave my crew three pairs each of hiking socks. If your crew has happy feet, they will be more productive.”
  • Flashlights. “Who doesn’t need a good flashlight? No cheap plastic stuff - and remember the batteries.”
  • Insulated lunch cooler bags. “As an executive you may not carry lunch, but you want your crew to bring their lunch, so they’re not driving around looking for lunch while on the clock.”
  • Bib overalls. “For those of you that do winter work, bib overalls can be logoed or left plain, but your crew will love them for those cold mornings or long nights of snow plowing,” he says.

(For Kaplan’s complete list, visit for his article, “Gifts that Keep on Giving.”)

If you don’t have the time or budget to buy gifts for the crew, there are still many ways to offer recognition to employees. These ideas will work year-round.

  • Handwritten note. Write a personal note to employees that go above and beyond.
  • Free days off. Give a certain number of free days off to employees to use as they see fit.
  • Elect them to a “Wall of Fame.” Set aside a public space inside your office and place photos of employees who’ve accomplished something special. Include details of what they did to earn their place on the wall.
  • Applaud their efforts – literally. If an employee has something truly worthwhile, ask your entire crew to give the employee a standing ovation and applause at the next meeting.
  • Remember those two important words – “thank you” – and use them often.

When it comes to gift-giving, Kaplan warns there are a few things to keep in mind. “Be equal – I always like to find things that the office staff, salespeople or the shovel man will all enjoy and all be happy with,” he says. “Don’t get gifts by class or employee level. Remember you would be nothing without the employees in the trenches doing the dirty work.”

Have a wonderful holiday season!