What's in a Thank You? Building a Culture of Appreciation

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Building a Culture of Appreciation--at Work, in Life.

Of all the ways to keep people motivated and interested, none is easier than simply saying thank you.

This is true in just about any relationship you have, any place you go.
Think about it: you feel great when people appreciate you; why not take a minute to appreciate them!

It's the right thing to do and it makes sound business sense: appreciated employees are more likely to be positive, engaged, high-performing, and have better retention rates. According to Gallup, recognition motivates 82% of employees to improve their job performance. They've also discovered that a top factor to raise overall employee engagement is regular praise and recognition from their managers.

An intriguing body of research from Josh Bersin's team at Deloitte finds that the workplace "Rewards and Recognition" realm is ripe for positive disruption:

"It turns out that the employee recognition industry is old and largely dominated by companies that sell gifts, rewards, and incentive programs. We estimate that the recognition market is over $45 billion in size and is mostly focused on rewarding tenure"--$45 billion targeted at how long you've been working here, oddly; and not focused on your performance and accomplishments.

"Our research found that these programs drive very little value at all," Bersin says, "and in fact only 58% of the employees we surveyed even know that their company has such a program."

Three quick reminders:

  1. Honesty. A hollow thank you is probably worse than no thank you at all. So please, be thoughtful and sincere. Why do you appreciate this person? What's special about them?
  2. They'd love to hear details.

  • Frequency. Everyone of every age likes a 'thank you.' Millennials even more--but not so much that the appreciation feels bogus (see point 1).
  • Variety. Instead of appreciating a top performer with a gold watch or a stock email, dream up a fun outing, or let them organize it! Tie the experience to their favorite team, star, food, interest, or cause.
  • Note: this approach works well for wedding anniversaries and other important celebrations! One of my favorite gift ideas ever is a book club recently organized by a colleague for his new girlfriend: she picked the book, told him who she'd like to invite, and he set it up. (You're welcome.)

    Thanx, gracias, merci, danke schon, tack!

    Whatever your lingo, I predict you'll be satisfied about making the effort to say Thank You.