How Far Does a Thank-You Go? The Power of Gratitude in the Workplace
Employee engagement isn’t just a buzzword. Employers need to keep their employees happy and productive if they want the kind of company culture that makes people stay and attracts new hires. Recent research from Motivosity and OnePoll shows that creating a mindset of gratitude can go a long way toward this goal.
The study took a closer look at how people feel about the gratitude they receive and express in their lives, including the workplace. The results point to a need to build a more appreciative mindset in the workforce through gratitude programs that go beyond gifts, perks and company swag.
Attitudes Toward Gratitude
People tend to feel like they show appreciation more than they receive it. The survey found that while 70% of respondents say they express gratitude to others always or often, just 57% said they feel others in their life do the same for them. The majority (56%) of respondents also said they express gratitude toward others between three and six times in an average month. However, 59% said that when someone thanks them, they have a hard time believing it is sincere.
According to the survey, respondents were also most likely to want to receive spoken (42%) and written (21%) forms of gratitude from others instead of gifts and other items.
When it comes to the workplace, satisfaction appears even lower. Just 18% of respondents said they feel most appreciated at work. Forty-seven percent also said it would be most impactful for them to receive thanks from a manager or executive leader; on the other hand, just 21% said they felt it would be the easiest to thank a work colleague.
The Cost of the 'Underappreciated'
Unappreciated employees are disengaged employees — and disengagement comes with a cost. Disengaged employees are less likely to be productive, and more likely to quit. Turnover is expensive, particularly in today’s tight labor market. Furthermore, truly disgruntled employees can even actively harm your company if they feel mistreated enough. On the other hand, a poll from Gallup found that turnover for engaged employees is 32% lower, while productivity for this same group is 13% higher. Most notably, profitability increases by 22% for companies with engaged employees.
Disengagement can also have an impact on employer health costs. According to another recent Gallup poll, health costs for engaged employees are 41% less than their counterparts and 62% less than those of employees who are actively disengaged. While wellness programs and investments in benefits can help, so can ensuring that your employees feel that they’re part of a work environment where they feel both supported and appreciated by others.
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Building a Gratitude Program
Many employers think that improving engagement means recognition programs that reward employees with gifts and other perks. However, this can be deceptive, as it sets employers up to either invest a significant amount of rewards each year or risk devaluing the program by offering less lucrative rewards.
Instead, employers need to think less in terms of gifts and more about building better quality relationships in the workplace through gratitude. By encouraging both colleagues and leaders to express thanks or appreciation on a regular basis, employers can create a “virtuous cycle” of gratitude that encourages a long-term shift in behavior. People who feel regularly appreciated end up being happy, helpful and productive employees.
One helpful way to track such an initiative is to use a formal tool or platform that makes it easy for employees to share and receive recognition. Employee experience teams can also use such a platform to track team sentiment and identify areas for improvement.
There are many means of improving employee engagement, but to build a truly positive culture, employers cannot underestimate the importance of gratitude. Taking the steps to build a program in which employees gain a more appreciative mindset not only improves engagement, but also reduces turnover and can drive business success.
To learn more about Motivosity’s solutions for employee rewards and recognition, visit motivosity.com.
About the Author
Tim is the senior manager of research and content for Simpler Media Group. In his role he writes content, market guides and data-driven research reports for all of SMG’s internal and external clients.