Refrigerator Material

Do you give out what I call “Refrigerator Material” to your employees? What’s that you ask?

Simple.

It is something that you give your employees on a consistent basis to show that you care and appreciate them. I’m talking about “Thank You” cards, “Birthday Cards”, or anything that winds up in their house that demonstrates that you care about them.

“How was work today, honey?”

When your crew comes home every day, someone asks this question. It isn’t quite the Spanish Inquisition, but when there is anything that is negative one of the first things out of their mouths is:

“Well, why don’t you look for another job?”

You have to constantly prove to your crew that they matter to you. Old school folks might say, “Well, what about that paycheck? Isn’t that enough?”

Simply put. No. Not on your life.

These days people want to work for a place where they matter. Where they are heard and are empowered to make a difference. That’s why some proof that you care that they can hang with a magnet on their refrigerator could be proof positive that they matter to you.

I See You

You have to acknowledge that you see your staff, and value their contributions.

At least one or two times a week some shop owner somewhere is emailing, texting, or calling me and asking the same thing. “Hey, do you know of any good printers (or embroiderers, or artists, or salespeople) out there? We are getting busier and I need to staff up.”

Good luck.

Staff retention needs to be a priority now more than ever. Because shops are ramping up for the post-pandemic area, many are starting to pay more for skilled staff members to come in and make a difference.

And while the majority of the time most employees won’t leave over a difference in pay, they will leave you when they sense you don’t care.

Sometimes the grass is greener over there.

Refrigerator Material = Part of Your Culture

What I’m really talking about is your shop culture. The more that you engage and help your staff grow, the better. Is sending a “Thank You” card all you have to do?

Of course not.

But it is evidence of your leadership mindset that you value your troops. What do you have that points to this on an ongoing and consistent basis?

Imagine This Scene

Your employee’s mother comes over to visit. A lot of that action might revolve around something happening in the kitchen.

Spotted, hanging there on the refrigerator is that birthday card or thank you from your company. She flips it open and reads the handwritten note from you expressing your appreciation and thankfulness for the hard work.

“Wow! I never received one of these from anywhere I’ve worked before. It must be a great place to work!”

That employee’s smile beams from ear to ear. “Yes, I love it! They take great care of us.”

They then describe what it is like to work for your business. How you actively listen. Maybe even a development program or two that will allow them to move up the ladder and make more money. That they get a sense that they belong and that their efforts don’t go unnoticed.

On Monday when they come into work, they are in a happier mood. That positivity spreads.

That’s what we are going for here.


“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say Thank You. In between, the leader is a servant.” – Max de Pree

“Take time to be kind and to say “thank you.” – Zig Ziglar

“None of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone’s help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you.” – Harvey Mackay