It might seem unprofessional to express gratitude for your employees, but research is overwhelmingly finding that this personal touch can pay dividends. Not only does appreciation reduce employee turnover – one US survey revealed two out of three employees would quit if they didn’t feel appreciated – it can boost job satisfaction. In fact, an Australian study of more than 1000 employees found that ‘supportive and appreciative’ work cultures were correlated highly with productivity. The report notes: “Productive workers feel valued and that their contributions are meaningful. They respect and are respected by their leaders.”
It might sound hard to believe, but the simple act of saying ‘thank you’ to your staff can make them more motivated. In a US study, a university fund-raising team was divided into two groups. One group operated as normal while the other received a pep talk from a senior manager, who told them how grateful she was for their efforts. Those in the second group made more fund-raising phone calls – a substantial 50 per cent more, in fact – than the first group.
Indeed, gratitude is much more effective as a motivator than fear. In a US survey, four out of five workers said they were motivated to work harder when a manager showed appreciation for their work, compared to those motivated by a demanding boss (only 38 per cent) or by the fear of losing their job (37 per cent).
The take-away message is that making sure your people feel like they matter will improve the culture of the organisation.
Here are a few ways to build appreciation and praise your staff:
The key is consistency – which means appreciating your employees must go beyond an annual ‘employee of the year’ program. A better approach is adding a gratitude program to weekly staff meetings or expressing appreciation in internal communications.
Glassdoor. Employers to retain half of their employees longer if bosses showed more appreciation; Glassdoor survey. [Online] 2013 [Accessed April 2019] Available from:
Harvard Business Review. What not to do when you’re trying to motivate your team [Online] 2018 [Accessed April 2019] Available from: https://hbr.org/2018/07/what-not-to-do-when-youre-trying-to-motivate-your-team
Harvard Medical School. Giving thanks can make you happier [Online; accessed April 2019] Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
Heads up. The Mentally Healthy Work Place Alliance. Tips for managers to create a mentally healthy workplace for all employees [Online; accessed April 2019] Available from: https://www.headsup.org.au/healthy-workplaces/tips-for-managers
McMillan L. A Future That Works. 2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workforce [Online; accessed April 2019] Pg 20-21; Available from: https://www.convergeinternational.com.au/docs/default-source/research/a-future-that-works-2016-snapshot-of-the-australian-workplace
Robert Half. Thanks but no thanks: survey reveals strangest forms of workplace recognition; research also finds two in three employees would leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated [Online] 2017 [Accessed April 2019] Available from: http://rh-us.mediaroom.com/2017-04-12-THANKS-BUT-NO-THANKS-Survey-Reveals-Strangest-Forms-of-Workplace-Recognition-Research-Also-Finds-Two-in-Three-Employees-Would-Leave-Their-Job-If-They-Didnt-Feel-Appreciated
University of California, Berkeley. Greater Good Science Center. How gratitude can transform your workplace [Online] 2017 [Accessed April 2019] Available from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_can_transform_your_workplace