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5 Tips to Make Your Employees Feel Appreciated

For entrepreneurs looking to add a fresh face, post-holiday turnover can be a blessing. But for the rest, it's a challenge that comes at precisely the wrong time.

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The holidays are over: "Tis the season for turnover.

lisegagne | Getty Images

Employees often start thinking about new opportunities around the end of the calendar year, but it's in the first quarter of the new year that turnover tends to spike. Workers' reasons for leaving vary, of course: Some are seasonal team members, while others want to reinvent themselves with a new role.

For entrepreneurs looking to add a fresh face to their team, post-holiday turnover can be a blessing. But for the rest, it's a challenge that comes at precisely the wrong time: The new year is a time for strategic planning, sales and tax preparation, all of which are complicated by team fluctuations. Fortunately for the latter group, the new year also presents leaders with plenty of chances to make team members feel appreciated.

Related: How Appreciating Employees is Connected with Burgeoning Businesses

To keep workers on board through the winter months, try the following:

1. Throw a post-holiday party.

The holiday season's scrumptious meals and rollicking parties can make January and February seem, well, subpar. On a snowy, cold afternoon, lift workers' spirits by surprising them with an office-wide party. Be sure, of course, to set out snacks and wrap gifts for everyone.

Not sure what gifts to get? Consult a gifting expert like John Ruhlin, CEO of the Ruhlin Group, who suggests that gifting actually shows more appreciation when it's done outside of the holiday season. "Instead, wait until an unexpected time to give something memorable," Ruhlin recommends.

If you're more of a do-it-yourself type, check out Rave Reviews, which makes it easy to find the "best" gift in a given category. For those of drinking age, Rave Reviews recommends a top-shelf tequila or other spirit, which can provide a welcome dose of cold-weather cheer.

2. Take time to play in the snow.

For kids, a thick layer of snow on the ground means time off school, snowball fights, and cozy days spent inside. For adults, it means stuck cars, stressful commutes and cold feet.

Bring some of the magic back to snow by taking your team out to play in it. Companies like Snozone host corporate retreats that include not just skiing and snowboarding, but "kid" snow activities like sledding races and meet-the-pack sled dog experiences. If you're on a budget, just suit up with your team on a snowy afternoon. Forget what workers at nearby offices think; take an hour or two to build a snowman and enjoy some hot cocoa. Then, send everyone home early to warm up and dry off.

Related: These Leaders Take Employee Appreciation to the Next Level

3. Support their new year's resolutions.

Believe it or not, many common new year's resolutions can also boost the resolver's performance at work. Research shows that exercising regularly, for instance, can improve productivity, increase alertness, and prevent illness. At a cost of $50 or less per employee per month, employer-paid gym memberships are an inexpensive way to meet personal and company goals.

For an even less expensive approach, set out healthy office snacks. Not only is improving one's diet one of the most common health-related resolutions, but according to snacks-as-a-service provider NatureBox, doing so can actually cut turnover while promoting productivity.

What about work-related resolutions? Give development-minded team members a hand by covering or helping with the costs of continuing education. Alternatively, allow them to spend company time taking free online business classes, which span subjects from writing to taxation to machine learning.

4. Volunteer as a team.

A growing number of employers are offering volunteer time off, a subcategory of paid time off, to encourage workers to give back to their communities. Most that offer the benefit aren't picky about what organizations workers support; they simply ask that team members taking VTO spend the time serving others.

If you don't already offer VTO, doing so can strengthen employee loyalty. In 2016, Cone Communications found that more than three in four millennials consider a company's social commitments when choosing their workplace. If you do have a VTO policy, give workers a bonus day to volunteer as a team. In a 2017 United HealthCare study, respondents reported that volunteering had improved their professional and collaborative skills.

Related: The Business of Volunteering Is Business for Millennials

5. Create platonic valentines cards.

From the right person, a thoughtful card can mean more than any purchased gift. This Valentine's Day, take a couple hours away from work to write meaningful cards to one another. They don't need to be sappy; a simple "I appreciate you" is all it takes.

Although creative teams might prefer to craft their own valentines cards from scratch, the rest of us have plenty of platonic cards to choose from online. Be sure to invite managers to join in as well: An Appirio study found that 60 percent of surveyed workers consider whether management appreciates employees to be the most important factor in a job.

The winter months are hard for everyone, particularly team members who see their peers leaving for other employers. Take a day, an afternoon, or even just an hour to show workers that their efforts are appreciated, and watch that stubborn turnover figure fall.

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