The new year will undoubtedly bring new challenges and opportunities, especially on the tail of the pandemic and rampant inflation. We will never know the collective emotional or financial toll this period has had on our employees, customers or families, but these challenges can help clarify our focus on people. 

You may have heard the principle from Zig Ziglar that “You don’t build a business, you build people, and people build the business.” This truth becomes increasingly apparent in economic downturns when teams and companies come together and rely on one another. Let us not look past this reliance or take those in our foxhole for granted. A study by Robert Half showed 66% of employees leave their jobs because they don’t feel appreciated for their work. The study also found that showing appreciation increases employee engagement, productivity, and dedication. In short, appreciation does not cost anything, but it means everything.

It’s easy to expect employees to be motivated by receiving a paycheck, but that kind of thinking can be a mistake. Labor is reaching a fluidity with remote work, employees are bombarded with more duties and responsibilities, and outside factors penetrate the psyche more than ever. At the same time, motivation does not need to be complex and can be intentionally part of our company culture. Appreciation, positive feedback, and seeking input and listening to employee insight all motivate, and motivated employees will become ever more necessary in challenging times.

These are basic concepts we understand but often forget in the midst of running the business. In this new year, we enter with increasing talk of economic slowdowns and even layoffs, so take time to thank and think about your employees. Leaders can double down on their people and acquire great talent seeking a welcoming workplace. An economic reshuffling can be an opportunity to attract fresh perspectives for your business. Ultimately, ground zero for building your business and brand will always be your people.