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Apr 3, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Happy employees are more productive than unhappy employees. That’s a no-brainer, and we all know that. Every company tries every day to create an environment to make their employees happy. They advertise it in almost every job advert, what cool things they are offering, what amazing benefits they have, how many things they can give their potential employees just to lure them in and keep them for a longer time.

However, material things are only one part of what makes employees happy. Material things are not working every time because people are looking for recognition and for their job to bring meaning for them. 42% of people are happy with the rewards and recognition their company offers. (Source: Happiness study)

In the same study, they asked people, “Which type of recognition awareness makes people happiest?” 58% responded, “Managers at my company recognize my work.” That recognition doesn’t require any special approval, extra budget or any special planning. Yet the power of a simple, “Thank you,” is often overlooked.


Gratitude Increases Performance

It is known that practicing gratitude can help us improve our lives, but could it do the same with our performance at work as well? If we take into consideration the fact that expressing gratitude makes us happy and that happy employees are more productive, then yes, gratitude can increase our performance.

Happiness makes people more productive at work, according to research from the University of Warwick, and this happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers were 10 percent less productive. (Source: study)

Encouraging the practice of gratitude at work has a wide range of benefits, starting with making the manager a better leader if he chooses to express his gratitude, and continuing to improve the relationships between team members, colleagues, and co-workers.

In other words, gratitude can influence the creation of a positive working space, which is beneficial for everybody.

How can you start using gratitude at work? Let’s say you are managing a team. If you want them to do their best, you need to start by recognizing their efforts and results and showing your gratitude for their work. And this is not just a mere assumption, as there was research unrolled in this direction.

Research commissioned by O.C. Tanner noticed that there is a close connection between the performance of a team and the recognition of its efforts by the manager. In fact, when asked directly what the management could do to help them increase their work performance, 37% of the interviewed employees answered that personal recognition would be the one thing that could boost their current performance.

If you are a team leader, manager, CEO, or occupy any other executive function, don’t forget to show your appreciation to your team and employees whenever you get the chance. Such a gesture counts more than you would think.

Another fact is that, when a person is satisfied with his or her job, he or she will be more willing to give their best while at work. In other words, if their jobs are making them happy, people will start delivering improved performances. How can you make sure that your employees have satisfying jobs?

No, we are not talking about raises and other perks. We are talking about promoting and encouraging gratitude within your company. If appreciation is part of your company’s work culture, your employees will enjoy a higher degree of well-being and job satisfaction. Most certainly you have a lot of people that do great things at work.

Did you stop to express your appreciation for their achievements and efforts? Make sure you do so, and you will see happier employees that are ready to do more for the company for which they work.

How can you show your gratitude toward your employees and team members? Well, there are more than enough ways to do it. But, in the end, it doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it. Also leaving a positive comment on your employees’ Twitter or LinkedIn profiles is another good way to show your appreciation in a fast and straightforward manner. And it also has a powerful effect.

But do have in mind that gratitude works best when it is shown in real time. This means that you have to present your appreciation for someone’s effort when it is happening, not a week later.

You’re worried that your plan to spread gratitude around your organization won’t work? Well, there’s nothing to worry about because gratitude is highly contagious. It is enough for you to start it, showing your appreciation to the people who deserve it, and soon everybody else will do it too.

Before you even know it, you will have a work culture filled with gratitude, which makes people happy and fulfilled. It’s just that people need to see it coming from you first because you are the leader. From this point on, it will begin to propagate naturally across the working environment of your company. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should stop doing it once it becomes part of your company’s work ethics because intermittent reinforcement is required.


The Amazing Effect of “Thank You”

One of the most effective ways to keep employees engaged is to make them feel that their efforts and work are appreciated. As you know, even small gestures of recognition can have an incredible effect on motivation. For that, you don’t need any special budget. Some studies show that people who receive “thank you” notes etc. feel grateful and appreciated and are found to experience stimulation in two parts of their brain.

The first is in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that regulates stress, and the second is in the ventral tegmental area, a group of neurons triggering the sense of pleasure. Managers who remember to say, “Thank you,” to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder. (Source: In Praise of Gratitude) This expression of appreciation gives an immediate boost to their happiness and self-confidence.

And it doesn’t matter if the person has been working for you for one year or 10 years, this appreciation makes everybody feel important and adds value to their work. Practicing employee appreciation and gratitude in the workplace will not only decrease stress levels, but it will also improve the workplace culture and bring many other benefits.

Great employees are hard to find so a mere gesture of gratitude provides the professional satisfaction that no paycheck can offer and gives them happiness when they are at work, letting them know that their work counts. The Jobbio #WorkHappy Index shows that promoting a good work-life balance is the top marker of a good employer for 2018, followed by offering competitive salaries and being forthcoming with praise and rewards.

When asked, “What makes a good employer?” “Offers praise” was the third thing that people mentioned. A good work-life balance and salary came before that. Flexible working hours, training, progression or company perks were behind it. Also “Praise from my manager,” was among the top five answers to the question, “What makes you happy at work?”

Everybody enjoys being appreciated and everybody likes to hear a sincere, “Thank you,” now and then. This is even more important when it comes to the people who spend a significant amount of their time working for your company, depositing considerable efforts to obtain the desired results. Most of these people don’t need a bigger paycheck; they just need to see the appreciation of their superior.

And there is also a similarity between being a manager and being in a relationship. If you don’t treat your employees well, they will leave you. It is the same if you take your partner for granted and stop appreciating the small things they do for you, they will also leave you.

The University of Georgia surveyed marital happiness. This is one of the findings from their study: “We found that feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last,” said study co-author Ted Futris, an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Thank you” is the most powerful phrase in your personal life and your workplace, but it will immediately lose its power if you don’t sincerely mean it.

You can quickly build a stronger company culture; have more engaged employees, higher retention, better results and much happier employees through the power of thanks.

Thank you for reading my article! 

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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