The Gravity of Gratitude for Your Employees

How does your business celebrate its hard-working employees? Half-days off? Plaques? It’s critical for company leaders to express gratitude towards their employees, and the jealousy-breeding employee of the month award isn’t cutting it. When an employee does something well, they feel they deserve recognition for their specific accomplishments, and acknowledging them gives the double benefit of reinforcing positive behaviors and building a happier, more productive workplace.

A recent survey found that many employees do not feel their managers recognize their efforts. While this is obviously unfortunate for the workers, this also poses a threat to the stability of the workplace, as over half of employees surveyed said they would leave their job for another if they weren’t sufficiently appreciated. On the flipside, of those who felt recognized by their employers, 92%  were proud to be part of their respective companies, and 70% were likely to recommend their companies’ products to others. There is an obvious payoff in recognition, and several sources agree that rewards don’t need to be lavish to be effective.

There are plenty of ways to recognize an employee other than a cash reward (which has been found to be a short term motivator) on this list. Among my favorites are the office-wide ice cream party in their honor and a bring you pet to work day, both of which have the added benefit of boosting all-over morale while being cost-effective and easy to organize. On the ritzier side are concert shout-outs, luxury car rentals, and bringing in a masseuse. Leadership expert, Chester Elton, even goes so far as to write personalized and heartfelt notes of gratitude not only to his employees, but to the families and loved ones of his valued employees which he sends out around the holiday season. Employees, as it turns out, often care more about the gesture than the scale.

As important as the reward itself is the manner of presentation. To show you’ve been paying attention, attribute credit clearly and  recognize the employee soon after their achievement to reinforce their positive behaviors. The acknowledgement is also part of the award, and a curt “thank you” is too perfunctory. Making eye contact and shaking hands immediately gives a greater impression of gratitude, and is bound to a positive effect almost equal to a material award; 28% of employees value praise over any other recognition.

The majority of managers think they praise their employees enough, but very few employees feel adequately recognized. No matter what kind of leader you may be, chances are you could be a little more grateful for your staff, and it doesn’t have to be hard. Consult with a corporate culture specialist or do some research. It’s well worth it for everyone’s sake.


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