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“Thank you for your great work”, “Thanks for your hard work and dedication” or “Thank you for helping me with the project” are just a few examples of expressing gratitude to coworkers and team members. Even though these little sentences don’t seem like much, small expressions of appreciation in the workplace can go a long way towards improving the relationship between colleagues, enhancing employee happiness and increasing productivity. But how do you say thank you to team members and colleagues?
Saying thank you to other people is one of the first things children learn from their parents. That’s because thanking someone is one of the basic rules of politeness. In a hectic business environment, however, basic gestures of respect and politeness aren’t all that common, although they really should be. Appreciation and gratitude have multiple benefits on individuals, teams and the overall office climate. Let’s have a look at the positive impact saying thank you can have in the workplace.
Being appreciated and valued makes us feel good; this goes both for the receiver and the the giver. Research on the neural correlates of gratitude has shown that being grateful is beneficial for both mental health and interpersonal relationships. Showing recognition and appreciation in the office can help establish a positive workplace culture which is pleasant to work in.
What’s more, employees who receive compliments and honest words of appreciation for the work they deliver are happier, and since studies have shown that happy employees are 13% more productive than unhappy ones, employee appreciation ultimately leads to better business performance and increased revenue.
Let’s look a bit closer at the correlation between employee appreciation and productivity. A survey carried out by the American Psychological Association (APA) showed that 93% of employees who felt valued in their job reported feeling more motivated to do their best at work - compared to only 33% among those who didn’t feel appreciated in the workplace.
This motivation to go the extra mile directly translates into increased employee engagement. According to research conducted by Quantum Workplace, employees are 2.7 times more likely to be highly engaged when they feel recognized. When employees feel appreciated for their work, they develop a stronger emotional commitment to the company they work for, and since employee engagement is closely linked to other aspects such as employee performance, turnover and customer service quality, the financial benefits for businesses are palpable.
In fact, 90% of HR professionals agree that employee praise and recognition helps drive business outcomes. Looking at it from the opposite perspective, the financial impact of employee recognition becomes even more evident. A lack of appreciation leads to a lack of employee engagement, and the latter is estimated to cost global businesses roughly $7.8 trillion every year.
While many employees express the desire to be recognized for their performance by managers and superiors – in fact, 52.5% of employees want more recognition from their immediate supervisor –, receiving positive feedback from peers is equally important. When managers and superiors regularly praise and recognize team members for their performance, this attitude sets an example for the rest of the team to do the same.
Research by Gallup finds that recognition has a powerful effect on teams. Not only does recognition improve the sense of meaning and purpose experienced by the members of the team, but it also inspires trust among team members.
Feeling like their work isn’t appreciated is one of the most important factors that push employees to quit their jobs and find a new position with a company that will appreciate them more. It’s human nature to strive for recognition and appreciation, and not getting it in an area that’s so important for our lives as our work is a trigger for many employees to look for fulfillment, respect and appreciation elsewhere.
For instance, 50% of the respondents in the APA survey who felt undervalued in their job declared they were intending to look for a new job in the following year - compared to only 21% of those who felt appreciated. The Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Study by the Society for Human Resource Management delivered similar results, with 55% of employees rating management’s recognition of job performance as very important, making it one of the top drivers for job satisfaction.
If feeling appreciated is an important factor when it comes to employee retention, the same can be expected to be true with regard to talent attraction. In fact, 56% of recruiters state that employee recognition programs have had a positive impact on talent recruitment.
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According to the findings of the APA’s Stress in America survey, recognition in the workplace remains a distant wish for many employees, with 46% of respondents indicating that their employer’s current recognition practices leave room for improvement. There are many different ways for employers and leaders to establish a culture of gratitude and recognition in the workplace. Below you’ll find five ideas on how to say thank you to the team, including ways of expressing gratitude and appreciation from coworker to coworker.
Sending a quick thank-you email is the most basic form of expressing gratitude to a colleague or team member, but that doesn’t make the gesture less effective. Well on the contrary. Who doesn’t like opening their inbox and discovering an email that has been sent for the sole purpose of expressive appreciation?
Appreciation emails can either be sent to an individual team member or to the whole team. They are particularly appreciated among colleagues and team members who don’t like to be pointed out and thanked in front of their coworkers.
There are a few points to keep in mind when composing a thank you email. Remember to:
Personalize the message and tailor the thank-you note to the project or achievement that is the reason for the appreciation email
Be precise – instead of rambling on for several sentences and not getting to the point
Be honest and express what you really think – only honest appreciation will have the desired affect and make your team feel valued
Include words of encouragement to keep up the good work
Be specific – don’t shy away from highlighting specific contributions or achievements that stood out
Special achievements or ongoing great work deserve more than just a thank-you note, email or letter. Of course, you can send a complimentary email to congratulate colleagues or team members on their accomplishment, but exceptionally hard work and stellar performance warrant spending some money and buying a little gift.
This doesn’t mean that you have to splurge and make big, expensive gifts whenever team members deliver excellent results. Well on the contrary. A small present is enough and will be highly appreciated – especially when it’s unexpected.
To make sure the thank-you gift goes down well, the present shouldn’t be too personal (i.e. no perfume or similar). Instead, you should opt for something professional yet thoughtful. Maybe you’ve noticed that the colleague or team member you want to thank is struggling to keep the papers on their desk in order. In this case, you could get them a practical desk organizer. For team members who often seem stressed, a little office plant could be a nice little present to both say thank you and help lessen stress levels.
It doesn’t always take an explicit thank-you note or present to show your team that you value their work. Involving your team in important projects and asking for their input and ideas will achieve just the same and show them that you appreciate their point of view and their input. In fact, there is no bigger proof of respect and appreciation than giving your team the opportunity to participate in important decisions regarding the company and get involved in transformation initiatives and other projects of great importance.
What’s more, giving team members the chance to work on important projects that allow them to use their entire range of skills and surpass themselves will increase the happiness and satisfaction they feel towards their work. For instance, the study by the Society of Human Resource Management showed that opportunities to use their skills and abilities at work was a very important contributor to job satisfaction for nearly three-fifths of employees.
Whether they are held in person for a local workforce or via videocall for a globally distributed team, all-hands meetings are an excellent occasion to publicly point out and congratulate team members who have worked especially hard and delivered amazing results since the last meeting.
Delivered in-person, a little thank-you speech will have an even bigger impact than an appreciation email, since you can underline your words with gestures, your tone of voice and your facial expressions. Not to forget that public demonstrations of appreciation also give coworkers the chance to congratulate their colleague and express their respect.
Receiving praise and words of encouragement from many different people is likely to boost the employee’s confidence and be exactly the kind of recognition it takes to convince them they did a great job. However, since not everyone is comfortable with being in the spotlight and receiving attention in front of the entire staff, public shoutouts of appreciation and gratitude should be used carefully – otherwise, your appraisal speech might have the opposite effect and lead to employees not delivering their best work anymore to avoid being publicly praised in the future.
One common way of thanking remote employees for their hard work and dedication is to invite them to team workations on a regular basis. Workations are a great way to mix business with leisure and are especially appreciated among distributed teams, since they provide remote workers with a unique chance to meet and interact with colleagues in person.
Taking your remote team on workations to recompense them for their efforts further comes with numerous advantages that go beyond the sole purpose of expressing your gratitude for their work. Not only will your employees appreciate the change of scenery, but the time spent together as a team can also be used for team building activities as well as for brainstorming and deep-work sessions as a team. Team workations are therefore a win-win situation for both the business and its employees.
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