The holidays bring a host of business gratitude. We go out of our way to thank our customers with cards, gifts and parties.  

I’m all for appreciating our clients. At McLellan Marketing Group, we created a special holiday with just that intention in mind. It’s not just about being grateful. It’s good business.  

One of my business idols is Walt Disney. When people are hired by the Disney organization, no matter what their role or title, they have to attend a class called Traditions. During the class, they learn all about the Disney way of doing things. They also learn a lot of history about the company and Walt’s beliefs.

One of the quotations attributed to Walt during that class is “Take care of the employees and the guests. The money will take care of itself.”

I think he hit it on the head. Yes, we should say thank you to our clients. But we shouldn’t forget our employees. No one influences the success of the company more than they do. They’re on the front lines, taking care of our customers and making sure they come back for more.

This is the perfect time of year for you to thank your employees. And I’m not talking the company ham. This isn’t about a token. This is about acknowledging to them that you get it. You understand how vital they are to your business. And if you’re smart, this is about recognizing the chain reaction of happy employees leading to happy customers that leads to a better bottom line.

Make no mistake. The way you treat your employees is also part of your marketing effort. It will influence your future recruiting efforts. It will trickle down to how your customers are treated, and it will ultimately shape your company’s culture.

So let’s assume you already do the typical company ham or a little extra cash in an envelope. What else can you do to say thank you to your employees this holiday season?

Give them a voice: On every employment survey known to man, one of the resounding messages that comes back from employees is that they want to influence the way the company does business. Not only does it make them feel like part of the solution, but in many cases, they know stuff that you don’t because of the unique relationship they have with your customers. 

Whether you form an employee advisory committee or you simply poll them at your next team meeting, start using their insights to not only give them a sense of contribution but also improve your business.

Don’t keep them in the dark: You know when most employees see one of their company’s ads or promotions? 

When a customer brings it to their attention or when they’re sitting at home, watching TV.  It’s frustrating, embarrassing and annoying to your employees to be out of the loop. Before you start any new initiative, clue them in.  

Build a reward system tied to company goals: Forget the ham and token cash. Why not reward your employees because together you have accomplished some of your goals, based on key performance indicators? 

Now they have a very personal reason for helping you move the company forward: They benefit. The truth is, you’ll all benefit if everyone is motivated to pull in the same direction.

Your employees are your most expensive and most valuable asset. Be sure you take good care of them this holiday season and moving in to 2014. 

The results will astound you.