( Photo by The Packer staff )

It sounds like the teaser for a second-rate movie: “Have you ever thought about telling someone how much they mean to you, only to realize you waited too long?”

There’s a business parallel here. How many people you work with would confidently say that you appreciate them and have a list of reasons why they know that to be the case?

It’s worth assessing to make sure your team members aren’t having a customer service experience — meaning that they don’t hear a peep when everything is rolling along smoothly, but they get lots of communication whenever there’s a problem.

We’re in the efficiency age, where practices that don’t move the needle on one metric or another often aren’t valued much. Everyone is pressed for time, and often the “extras” — like letting people know you value their contributions to the company — fall through the cracks.

Obviously work is transactional in nature: the employee works for you, and you pay the employee. It can be as simple as that. But do you want it to be as simple as that?

You’d be surprised how much an encouraging word here or there can strengthen a person’s loyalty to an organization. I’ve been fortunate to receive positive feedback from supervisors and others at different stops in my career, and I can’t imagine most of them would even remember they said anything to me — but I remember!

They likely have no idea how much that little bit of recognition meant, but I can tell you that it made my day every time someone took the opportunity to say something.

Because I’ve gotten to experience this, it warms my heart even more every time I see other people experience it!

The United Fresh Produce Association’s Retail Produce Manager Awards Program is a wonderful example. I got to interview on video six of the produce managers recognized by United Fresh this year, and it’s hard for me to express how moving it was to see what it meant to those folks to be nominated by their organizations. It was remarkable.

I thought about the power of acknowledging people again when I spoke with Martin Casanova of Fudi Food, which markets the Thx! brand. What stuck with me was his recollection that, when his team asked farmworkers what they could help them with, some said they really didn’t need anything special, but they were in tears at the fact that someone thought to ask.

For many people, just knowing someone sees them is an incredible gift. You may not be able to give someone more money or more vacation time, but you can make sure they know that you appreciate them. You can make sure they know you understand the company is better for their dedication and their contributions.

We could all stand to put “Write a thank-you note” on our to-do list. It’ll be the best thing we do all day.

Ashley Nickle is editor of PMG magazine and retail editor of The Packer. E-mail her at [email protected].

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