Two Words Crucial to Workplace Success: “Thank You”
Most employers believe extrinsic motivators are the key to retaining employees and keeping them satisfied in the workplace. Extrinsic motivators are useful but too often, they don’t last long enough to cause long-term positive impacts. That is, an employee may not get motivation from a raise, because he or she was expecting it anyway and may be upset it didn’t come sooner. Bonuses are spent and vacations end too soon. Therefore, employers need to focus more on intrinsic motivators to keep morale up.
It’s Quick but Lasting
Saying “thank you” is a quick, easy, lasting intrinsic motivator. However, most employers don’t take time to do it. Sometimes this is because everyone is too busy for what the employer thinks of as “small talk.” Some employers feel that if their workers receive praise every day, they’ll come to expect it and productivity will decrease. Yet consistent, specific praise – including a simple “thank you” – increases productivity no matter the workplace or surrounding circumstances.
Make It Meaningful
The best way to reap the benefits of gratitude in the workplace is to make displays of it meaningful, appropriate, and creative. For example, most experts agree that “public displays of gratitude should not be restricted to colleagues or [direct reports],” but employers should take time to discover what types of displays would mean the most to specific people. For example, a public speech outlining his or her accomplishments might please an extraverted person but embarrass an introvert. Some employees enjoy accepting small gifts of appreciation; others find this awkward and would much rather hear uplifting words.
Additionally, experts such as Janice Kaplan, author of The Gratitude Diaries, say appreciation should not come from employers alone. Kaplan recently completed a study finding that although 80% of employees say gratitude makes them feel better, only 10% of them show gratitude to fellow workers on a regular basis.
Employers should encourage their workers to show appreciation for each other. They can use studies like Kaplan’s as a starting point, but should also help workers brainstorm ways to show gratitude. For instance, each department could have a weekly coffee date or lunch out where the goal is to relax, catch up on each other’s lives, and show gratitude for the helpful things everyone did that week. Workers might bake treats for each other or give out gift certificates to a popular store or restaurant to celebrate the successful completion of a big project.
Show Gratitude to Clients, Too
Kaplan recommends that employees show regular appreciation for their clients, as well, particularly if they’re in sales, real estate, or any other field that requires frequent face-to-face interaction. Clients who don’t feel valued will leave a vendor or service provider for someone else, but clients who do feel valued will not only stick with that service provider, but will tell their friends and drum up more business.
Employees should take time to express gratitude with simple phrases like, “I appreciate working with you,” “Thank you for your business,” or “Thanks for your cooperation on this endeavor.” To make displays of gratitude more meaningful, employees should build rapport with clients. Get to know them – ask questions about what drew them to your business, the specific services they need, and other relevant information.