A lot of things have changed since the original Labor Day in 1882. But one thing hasn’t: employees still desire to be appreciated above all else. Employee engagement remains one of the most important and intricate workplace puzzles.

The original Labor Day “celebration” was more of an uprising. Laborers took to the streets and staged strikes to express their distaste with working conditions. Labor Day was eventually named a national holiday to honor the “working man.” While we’ve made great strides in the treatment of employees, engagement still remains one of the most buzzed about topics in the workplace.

To really engage your employees, you need to be making an effort 365 days a year. The bottom line is that good employees make your small business function effectively, and you have to make a concerted effort to keep them around in a competitive job market.  The following are a few ways that you can help your employees feel valued and re-engaged in the workplace.

Focus on Wellness (In and Outside the Office)

As soon as you acknowledge how much of their time employees are spending at work every week, you’ll be able to understand how important it is to encourage workplace wellness. There are plenty of studies that show how harmful a sedentary lifestyle is. Make wellness a cornerstone of every work day. Friendly office competitions and apps such as WalkerTracker make health and wellness a priority.

Focus on Culture

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably well-versed on the different ways to build a strong company culture. But the truth is that every company is different, and every employee has a different preference on what enjoyable workplace culture looks like. Pre-planned group functions are a fantastic way to allow employees to socialize outside of the confines of the office. But if your employees are feeling like work events = forced fun (or maybe don’t enjoy the group setting as much), offer them the option of programs like Dabble where they can plan one-on-one outings with co-workers while trying their hands at potential hobbies outside of working hours.

Make Sure Employees Feel Safe

It’s important that employees feel comfortable traveling to and from the office. If your employees are burning the midnight oil, make sure they’re able to have peace of mind with an app like SafeTrek (or the good old fashioned buddy system) when leaving the office. Remote working has grown exponentially in popularity, and is a great option if employees are concerned for their safety – for instance if your team has to work after hours. However, managing remote workers comes with it’s own set of challenges that you should be aware of.

Encourage Communication (and Feedback)

There’s nothing worse than stifled workplace communication. Processes are less streamlined, employees are less happy and companies are less effective. If your employees don’t have a clear understanding of how and who to communicate with (on issues, wins and everything in between), it will have a direct impact on your bottom line. Make sure that you have a very defined system for workplace communication with platforms like Bonfyre or regular surveys through tools like SurveyMonkey. It’ll be beneficial for your employees and your bottom line.

Focus on Recognition

In a 2013 study by Harvard Business Review, recognition was ranked as the most impactful driver of employee engagement.

Recognition doesn’t necessarily need to come in the form of a raise or an award but making sure that employees feel valued is incredibly important. Try finding more personalized ways to show appreciation like a custom gift from Greetabl or enrollment in a program like Good Street where employees can choose a daily charity to donate to. Hatchbuck employees are all enrolled in GoodStreet, and it’s a great way to make a small difference on a daily basis.

We all look forward to the extended Labor Day weekend – but if your employees dread getting back to the grind on Tuesday, you’re missing out on productivity and engagement. This year, when you get back to the office, come up with a few ways to make your employees feel valued 365 days of the year and re-engaged with the success of your business.