Among the complaints I hear frequently from employees are comments like: “I’ve been busting my butt for this company for years, and not once has anyone actually said, ‘thanks for your efforts’.” And almost as frequently I hear employers say things like: “Why should I say ‘thank you’? It’s their job! What the heck am I paying them for?” I have even heard complaints voiced from company owners that no one on their staff ever says “thank you” to them for the trust or confidence, support, perks, etc. shown to the staff. As long as there have been employee/employer relationships, there have been workers who feel underappreciated, and employers who feel that the salaries they pay are thanks enough.
There’s no question that employees feel frustrated when they don’t feel appreciated; and that the effort required on the part of an employer to express their gratitude is minimal. Yet surprisingly both sides too frequently echo the same lament. What’s up with that?
Civility and etiquette can go a long way in (and out of) the workplace. But in the rush to complete reports, research and other tasks, make sales, return calls, answer email, respond to texts, it seems these traits are all but forgotten, not just between bosses and their minions, but between coworkers as well.
I’m not suggesting that extending appreciation necessitates “employee of the month” programs, or other formal/public acknowledgment. These are frequently very motivating tactics, and they have their place and effectiveness! But do not negate the importance of going up to someone – face-to-face – and saying, “Thank you!” Or, “I appreciate the effort you showed today (on this project, whatever).” And it’s more than about a polite and simple “Thanks” when tasks get done. But an amazing amount of good will, confidence, job satisfaction and performance improvements can all be attributed to the straightforward, heartfelt act of acknowledging people’s efforts. And it is especially rewording when it comes completely unexpected.
Here are some ideas of how to demonstrate an Attitude of Gratitude.
In your next staff or department meeting, no matter what your position in the company or its hierarchy, take a moment to express your appreciation to a coworker or subordinate for something they did that week. “Before I read my report, I just want to say thanks to Karen and Ben for their research.” Or, “Thanks to Bill for doing all the copying the other day. It made my life easier.” Or, “Thanks, boss, for taking us all bowling.” The public acknowledgment will have a positive effect on all those present.
When you get to work some morning, unexpectedly bring a cup of coffee to someone who assisted you on a task or project. Or call someone into your office at the start of the day, and just say, “Your contributions have not gone unnoticed. I really am glad you’re here and the work you do here is as important as anyone else’s.”
Apply the same concepts to people outside of work by expressing your appreciation where you shop and compliment someone who has provided good customer service, for the cleanliness of the store, or to someone who went above and beyond to provide you a qualitative experience. Talk to a school crossing guard and say thanks for keeping the neighborhood kids safe (even if you don’t have kids). Saying hello and expressing your appreciation to a member of your local police or fire department, when there is no emergency, helps to build community, and makes them feel more satisfied for doing a really tough job. Maybe even tell a family member or friend you are glad they are in your life. A warm, sincere comment like that can improve anyone’s day!
You probably have more opportunities to convey an attitude of gratitude than you realize, but the important thing is that you do it. Accomplishment may be its own reward, but whichever side of the equation you’re on – employer or employee – customer or service provider – having someone acknowledge your efforts goes a long way to keeping morale, spirit and productivity high. A winning combination to be grateful for!
And Thank You, dear reader!
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