Everybody knows that a simple “thank you” can brighten someone’s day. This is just as relevant in the workplace, so why doesn’t it happen more often? A survey of American workers found that almost all respondents would like their co-workers to show more appreciation towards them during the workday. The same pool of respondents stated that co-workers were the people they are least likely to express gratitude towards, at just 15% doing so.

Appreciation and productivity

Managers are always looking for ways to motivate their employees to give that little bit extra at work, but showing appreciation is something that often gets overlooked. In fact, the UK has set up ‘Employee Appreciation Day’ to fall on the first Friday of March each year. A Tjinsite poll shows that 35% of workers cite a lack of recognition as the biggest factor in waning productivity.

A study conducted by Harvard Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania tested the effect of appreciation on two groups of university fundraisers. The control group conducted phone calls and fundraising efforts in the same way as usual, but the second group received a motivational talk from a director, expressing gratitude for their fundraising efforts. The latter group made 50% more fundraising calls than the control group.

There is also a biological element that can be considered. Positive feedback and messages of gratitude activate the hypothalamus - the area of the brain that controls the regulation of the ‘reward’ neurotransmitter called dopamine. A boost of this transmitter reduces stress, encourages better sleep habits and generally increases a person’s wellness. Naturally, somebody who is well-rested and feeling good about life is going to give a stronger performance at work.

Of course, appreciation and showing gratitude is just one of the factors that make up strong communication at work. We have created a guide for managers or employees who might be looking to build on their communication skills, laying out six ways to improve internal communication.

Strong examples of appreciation

Big or small, it is important for your company to help employees feel appreciated. Whether this be by giving freebies, holidays or other positive reinforcement, people need to know that the work they do is valued.

  • Groupon likes to reward each employee with a bright green Adidas jacket after every year of employment. They are able to customise the jacket with a nickname or other fun inscription. Simple gestures like this one go a long way to keeping employees content with the company they work for.
  • Similarly, event automation company Certain likes to make sure that annual Employee Appreciation Day is full of food and fun events of the team’s choosing. It also places focus on making appreciation a year-round thing, not just an annual event. Slack channels are dedicated to gratitude, and there are quarterly rewards for those employees who have had their efforts recognised most by their colleagues.
  • E.ON has had a fair amount of negative publicity in terms of quality of customer service. Since introducing its ‘Buzz’ platform, key people engagement has jumped by 10%. The Buzz platform allows workers to be ‘buzzed’ by customers and colleagues whenever a message of gratitude has been left for them. On average, an employee is buzzed every two minutes.
  • Telefonica has introduced an app that allows colleagues to congratulate/thank each other across the Telefonica network. Each employee has their own profile so they can view their messages of appreciation. Colleagues can nominate particularly helpful or kind individuals for an award at Telefonica’s award ceremony.

Employees need to feel as if the work they do contributes positively to the company, otherwise they will likely lose their motivation. Make sure that you set something special aside for your employees next March!


Photo by Morvanic Lee on Unsplash.