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Running Your Firm

Show your staff your appreciation: What Firm of the Future authors do in their firms

Whether it’s Thanksgiving or any other time of the year, you’ll want to show your staff appreciation for what they do: Consistently support you and your firm, and in many cases, help grow your firm.

We asked some of our Firm of the Future authors to tell us how they show appreciation. Here’s what they had to say.

Louise Cochrane, Author at Firm of the Future

I find that it is actually rewarding to show my staff appreciation in real time throughout the year rather than just at the holidays. If I can sense an employee is struggling or having a hard day, I do one or more of a few things: Grant them a mental health day; or Venmo them funds with a specific memo such as: "Treat yourself to mani/pedi," "Get DoorDash," or "Take the family out for a meal."

I love celebrating wins: Passing the EA exam, birthdays, and anniversaries. My favorite day to show appreciation is Valentines day, perfectly timed during tax season. I pre-order flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries for my virtual assistant (she LOVES them and hides them from her family), and for my more health-conscious employee, I order a fruit bouquet. I make sure to order using my personal email account so that my employees don't see the surprise coming.

Just like a marriage, showing appreciation is the most important priority for success. When you genuinely show you care, you provide a priceless component to employee retention. But appreciation comes in so many different forms and means different things for different people, so I make it personal, individual, and unique.

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We have flexible work arrangements that honor family and personal time. We provide holiday bonuses every year and a full set of benefits, as well as competitive pay, an aggressive PTO plan, and paid training. We take stewardship seriously, and want our team to feel like we are an employer that is building a long-term relationship with them, and that somewhere, it is still possible to build a multi-decade career. Our role as an employer demands that we understand how our employees are affected, good and bad, by our decisions, so we make an effort to work with authenticity and appreciation for the contributions they make at all times.

Carla Caldwell, Author at Firm of the Future

I like to show appreciation to our team throughout the year, often with notes or cards or during a team meeting. I also send direct messages to them if I find out they have something difficult going on at home.

One year during our annual Christmas dinner, we put together short videos from our clients asking them to share what it has meant to work with our team members.  We showed these videos in front of their spouses, which made it all the more special for them, since our spouses often don't really get to hear those nice things.

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One of the most impactful ways we've found to celebrate our team is to express our gratitude publicly. We push our team to take a few minutes to recognize individual achievements, in real-time, and thank those who have gone above and beyond. We primarily use our Slack channels to give these "shout-outs" to team members. These moments of recognition, whether big or small, resonate deeply, acting as motivation and affirmation. A simple acknowledgment in a space where teammates can join in and celebrate can be a powerful morale booster. We've found that this not only makes individuals feel valued, but also cultivates a culture of recognition and appreciation throughout the firm.

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At ASE Group, we take great care in showing appreciation for our employees. We believe in celebrating our team in various ways, such as paid birthday holidays for every employee (separate from any other PTO) and personalized birthday gifts. We also make it a point to recognize and celebrate milestones, cultural events, and important personal occasions as a collective, fostering a sense of inclusiveness. We also prioritize work-life balance by providing company-wide, paid recharge breaks, including a week off between Christmas and New Year's Day. In our weekly team meetings, we openly acknowledge exceptional efforts, creating a culture where each team member feels genuinely appreciated and inspired to excel.

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Responsible corporate sustainability and thoughtfulness is important to us. We use Motivosity to support employee retention by enhancing the experience of the employee through peer-to-peer recognition, communication, surveys, rewards,and  insights. In Motivosity, you can allow employees to choose what they want through gift cards and customized storefronts.

This season we are also connecting AXOMO, a custom swag store, to Motivosity so that employees and clients can choose from a variety of high-quality branded gifts. We feel that allowing employees to choose what they want is an important part of sustainability for the planet. According to AXOMO, 52% of corporate gear is thrown away or regifted. So along with traditional bonuses, we want our employees to be able to choose the branded gifts they will actually enjoy, or they can bank their rewards and save them.

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At Capovario, we’d be nothing without our incredible team. So I prioritize showing my appreciation for each member in ways that are meaningful to them, knowing that no two people need the exact same thing. To do this, I offer a flexible schedule, the ability to work from anywhere, a project-based profit-sharing program, and full benefits for each person’s health and financial security. The overarching theme of how I show my team how grateful I am for their hard work is through a culture of trust, collaboration, and ownership.

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The "high five" feature in the software 15Five is one way we express appreciation throughout the company. Tagging a team member with a high five triggers an email to them directly, as well as  a Slack post in a public "high five" channel. We can acknowledge team members whenever we want, and 15Five also prompts us to think of people we can high-five during the weekly check-in process. It's fun to see a flood of high-fives at the end of each week.

More importantly than any specific method, we create a culture of expressing public and private acknowledgment for contributions when anyone notices specific efforts or as general appreciation occurs to us.

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Showing appreciation is an essential aspect of not only maintaining a positive work environment, but also fostering a strong team dynamic. At Analytix, we have various effective ways to show appreciation:

  • Personalized thank you notes and/or emails: Even though verbal recognition takes precedence over any other form of communication, the second best method is the written personalized message. Keeping leaders, management, and the entire team in the loop, I like to acknowledge my team or individual’s efforts by sending praise emails to highlight their efforts, and what they did that positively impacted the entire team and/or company.
  • Employee of the Month programs: We have a monthly Rewards and Recognition program. The heads of departments nominate employees from their department for two awards, Impact Maker of the Month and Change Maker of the Month. This list is published across the company and there are monetary rewards linked with these awards.
  • Employee welfare budget: Analytix provides a welfare budget to all departments. Each department can use this budget in their own way as a work vacation/trips or team lunches for the deserving team. Apart from the budget, whenever I meet my remote team—usually once a year—I take them out to lunch or dinner to show them appreciation.
  • Flexible work hours or remote work: We allow flexibility in working hours or offer remote work options when feasible. This demonstrates trust and appreciation for their work-life balance.

Regardless of the method, I believe the key to effective appreciation is personalization and sincerity!

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