In some ways, your relationship with your employees is no different than your relationship with members of your family. We all desire to know we are cared about by the people who are important in our lives.

Noelle Nelson, a Los Angeles-based psychologist and the author of Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy, says, “If a company takes its employees for granted, typically sometime after the first four to six months, the eagerness and desire of most workers wane. After that, in the absence of feeling appreciated by management, employees adopt a ‘whatever’ attitude.” At this point, she explains, the expectations of both parties are “diametrically opposed to the detriment of the company’s success.”

A manager who is aware of and adaptive to the needs of their employees is well equipped to inspire passion in the workplace with techniques that require little or no financial resources:

1. Recognize employees for a job well done by using the 3-step model.
a. Thank them

b. Be specific about what they did well

c. Share the positive impact it had on you and/or the company

… and make sure you thank them in a timely manner.

2. Learn more about your employees’ personal lives to show that you care. Be genuinely interested when asking them about their weekend, hobbies, children, pets, etc. Caring goes a long way. With new teams, create some personal questions at the beginning of your meetings such as: “Share something you did, outside of work, which was really fun during the past month”.

3. When an employee has just accomplished an important project/task, ask them to share their story with the team. The story not only recognizes the employee but also builds pride amongst the team and may also provide some learning for the other team members.

4. Build your list of employee stories that can demonstrate the behaviors you look for in a team and that align with company values. Employees find satisfaction in working for a company that has clear values and purpose.

No matter how the economy or job market prospects are faring, good employees are still a company’s No. 1 asset and a key to higher profits. Are you making the right investments in your company?