Unemployment numbers might be on the rise, but good employees are still hard to come by. Once you've found them, don't take them for granted: they're your second family.
It's the same story for many business owners: We spend so much time with our staff that they are like our alternative family.
Most of us would wish to have a happy family environment. Who needs shouting, screaming and arguments? A peaceful and contented atmosphere is just common sense.
So, if it works for the family at home, should the same not be said of your business family?
The more I embrace this concept, the better my business. Yes, it has happened over the years that being more generous with some of my staff was met with them taking advantage of me. But then so have various members of my home family from time to time - especially teenagers. That tends to come with the territory.
None of this has stopped me from looking after my staff and being as generous as I can realistically afford. I get a buzz out of it, and the payback in terms of loyalty is usually tenfold. When I need them, they are always there for me.
I've watched the unemployment numbers rise and understand that staff should be 20 a dozen, but in my experience the good ones are very hard to come by, and I do everything I can to keep them.
If you follow the Wikipedia inventor guide lines, you should treat all you staff as if they were volunteers. I might not go that far, but I never ever take them for granted, never ask them to do something I wouldn't do, and always always say thank you (and mean it). Simple, isn't it? Yet for some bosses it would appear not to be. The times in my life that I worked for others, it was the small things that made a big difference to the jaundiced employee struggling through the mud each day.
Your mood as MD sets the tone. However bad you feel you cannot let this show, and that's tough. But remember that a bunch of flowers or a box a chocolates means so much and costs very little. You can rather easily seal the loyalty factor that will differentiate your business in difficult times.
And finally, never underestimate the power of a smile or a laugh to lighten the mood.
Besides, it's good for the soul.
Jo Haigh is head of FDS corporate finance services and the author of The Financial Times Guide to Finance for Non Financial Managers. You can reach her at email@example.com.