The Tangible Value of Gratitude at Work

The Tangible Value of Gratitude at WorkThere is much research to prove that recognition and rewards have quite an impact on employee engagement, which, in turn, has a substantial impact on everything that’s meaningful to organizations: productivity, profitability, customer satisfaction, the list goes on.

If you’d like to see the numbers, here’s an article by Forbes contributor Kevin Kruse, citing statistics from 28 studies.

So, the difficult part is not proving that engagement matters and that, therefore, recognition and rewards matter. Rather, it’s finding ways to recognize and reward employees that matter to the employees themselves.

What employers often neglect to consider, though, is the value of simply showing gratitude – of saying, “Thank you.”

With Thanksgiving still in our rear-view mirrors, here’s The Singer Group’s short list of the best and most out-of-the-box ways to say “thank you” to employees:

Say Thank You with TIME.

While doing something like throwing your employees a party can be a legitimate way to express gratitude, and may even be highly appreciated by your team, think about how meaningful time truly is our society. Surprise your staff with an organization-wide day off (do it in staggered groups if you need to); or try instituting half-day Fridays. Whether you thank your employees with time every once in awhile or regularly, it is great proof of how deeply you value the time they give to you.       

Say Thank You PUBLICLY.

One of the greatest human fears in relation to work is the fear of what others think of us. Does my boss think I’m doing a good job? Does management know the contribution I made to that project? Do my supervisors see how hard I’m working? As a leader, you have an opportunity to quell that fear substantially by finding high-visibility ways to praise employees for their work. You can place an “Accomplishments Noted Noteboard,” in a public space. You can start every meeting by recognizing one to three people. You might even consider making intercom announcements every day at a certain time. Whatever you do, if the praise is authentic, your true gratitude will shine through.

Say Thank You PRIVATELY.

The opposite of public praise works, too. The trick here is to give it in unexpected ways at unexpected times. This means not at performance review time and not with the employee’s end-of-year bonus. Instead think about ways and times that show you put effort into expressing your gratitude. Send a handwritten note to your employee’s home or leave a voice message on their office phone after hours so that they receive it first thing in the morning.   

Say Thank You with MONEY.

Yes it’s expected and, yes, it’s not out-of-the-box. But the truth is that money is valuable to most of us – and it can be even more valuable during these tougher economic times. You can make this very standard reward a little more unique though in two ways: 1) by the amount you give, and 2) by how often you give it. For example, a very large monetary reward given infrequently and when not expected, can have a huge impact on someone’s life. Equally, a very small monetary reward given quite often (like a new gift card from a different store or entertainment venue every month) can take showing gratitude with money from mundane to remarkable.

Say Thank You OFTEN.

Clearly, we were inspired to write this article because of the holiday season, and that fact led us to the same thought thousands of people have at this time of year – and that they likely even state out loud around the Thanksgiving table: Why do we wait for special occasions like this to express our gratitude to the people we care about? If we can bring this lesson to the workplace, too, we’re all but guaranteed a feast of improved results and fast-forwarded success.

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