Show your true colors to your employees


Whether working remotely or on-site, everyone is feeling some level of stress around meeting the demands of work and home life while navigating the confines of a pandemic.

Employees are dealing with stressed-out customers, vendors, suppliers and colleagues. Remote workers may be treated as “out of sight, out of mind” or are micromanaged by supervisors because they are literally not seen as they complete their work.

Those coming to the workplace feel the stresses that can come with COVID-19 protocols and personal safety, as well as balancing online schooling with child care and work.

With so many individuals and communities experiencing hardship from the pandemic and the Aug. 10 derecho, it is critical that employers keep an eye on morale and employee engagement.

By employee engagement, I am referring to having employees who are enthusiastic, committed and involved in their work.

My professional HR experience aligns with findings from the Society for Human Resource Management and Gallup that state that managers play a central role when it comes to employee engagement at work.

Showing appreciation is a key component in keeping employees engaged.

Consideration for those employees who are taking great care of customer needs, producing quality work that connects to the organization’s mission or taking on more work can go a long way toward retaining them and enhancing the reputation of your organization.


Appreciating your employees is good business. To shrug it off and say that an employee “should be grateful that they have a job” not only is insensitive, but it ignores the bigger picture. Employees who feel appreciation at work tend to be more engaged — and furthermore, they will help your organization succeed in the long run.

When the economy stabilizes, employees who feel underappreciated will move on. We observed that phenomenon first-hand during the recovery from the Great Recession.

In our career transition work, our clients frequently ask us about employer reputations as they navigate the job market.

Just as employees who feel unappreciated will share their thoughts about their employer on platforms such as Glassdoor, employees who are appreciated also will relate their experiences.

Many job seekers will share negative reviews found online or uncomplimentary comments their friends and family have made about an employer.

Those same job seekers are paying attention to positive comments and might say to us, “I saw on Facebook that a local company did x, y and z for their employees — how cool is that?”

Current and former employees are the public relations for any company. You want their comments and reviews to be as positive as possible.

In turn, a positive reputation can boost recruitment efforts and make your organization one that passive and active job seekers want to approach.


As you consider employee appreciation, you might be thinking of large events in which the costs can quickly escalate.

However, employee appreciation can cost very little, and in some cases can be free.

It also doesn’t need to be time consuming but should be done often enough so that a word of thanks doesn’t seem odd or disingenuous.

Standard signs of appreciation such as taking someone to lunch or giving tickets to a local event are more difficult with so many working remotely, and events being canceled due to the pandemic.

Remember, a simple “thank you for all of the hard work that you do” has an impact.

Employees who are feeling very isolated or disconnected may be Zoom-weary and would appreciate a phone call or handwritten note.

Taking a moment to ask about one’s family or general well-being shows that you care.

Telling your employee that you appreciate the way that they’ve balanced the needs of customers with the demands of their family, for example, shows that you’ve noticed how these challenging times are affecting them.

Other ways to show appreciation might be giving the employee an afternoon off, a change of scenery, more flexibility during the workday or a gift certificate to their favorite take-out from a local restaurant.

Shawn Anchor, author of the New York Times best-selling book “The Happiness Advantage,” says, “The best leaders are the ones who show their true colors not during banner years but during time of struggle.”

What colors are the leaders you know showing their employees?

Are they keeping employees engaged and acknowledging their hard work or will their management style mean that employees will move on when the job market picks up?


Will their reputation be enhanced as they recognize excellent work during a difficult time or will it be tarnished?

If you appreciate your employees, let them see your true colors.

Jennifer Lawrence is the owner of Corridor HR Solutions, a career transition and consulting company;

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