Leaders: Why Giving Thanks to Employees is More Important Than Ever

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November is National Gratitude Month, and in the United States, it is also the month when we celebrate Thanksgiving. So many leaders I have worked with over the years focus on continuous improvement, both for themselves and for their organizations and employees. While this continual growth mindset is important, the dial can at times turn too far and generate a culture full of critiques where nothing is ever good enough. In the spirit of gratitude this month, I’d like to encourage leaders everywhere to pause and give thanks and recognition for what your team and stakeholders have delivered this year. Not only will demonstrating gratitude and recognition make those around you feel good but there can be some significant advantages to your company as well:

What Gratitude can do for you (and your company):
In a recent survey, 53% of employees admitted they would stay longer at a company if they felt more appreciation for their work. With the war for talent, retaining key employees is more important than ever. Additionally, research has shown that receiving gratitude can increase overall engagement, overall performance, and even the exchange of ideas and enhanced creativity. If that’s not a reason to show thanks, I’m not sure what is.

Research has also demonstrated that gratitude significantly increases social bonds. In a more than ever remote and hybrid workplace, social bonds are critical to generating trust, retention, and team performance. Creating a connected workforce via gratitude, which subsequently creates pride, generates long-term effects that can affect the pace of employees’ efforts and ultimately company growth.

How to express gratitude the right way:
Yes, there is a right way to express gratitude and recognize your employees’ contributions, and thankfully (no pun intended), research has provided us with what works. When companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% notice a positive impact on engagement. Source: SHRM Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey. Employee recognition platforms can provide an equal opportunity for kudos and recognition to employees and leaders alike. The most connected and impactful of these platforms ties to the company’s core values so that recognition is continuing to incentivize and maintain the culture that is desired.

When you give recognition to those on your team, it’s important to pause and understand how they like to be recognized. We all have different recognition needs and noticing and adapting to those can help you make the desired impact on your employee. At Summit, we often use the Hogan Motives, Values, and Preferences Inventory, and one of the scales within it is called Recognition. This scale is extremely helpful and can ensure executive teams understand each other’s preferences for receiving and showing recognition.

And it can be simple as a thank you. Employees want to know their hard work isn’t going unnoticed. Showing appreciation that recognizes how they contributed to a bigger, broader goal can help them feel connected and motivated to keep producing. Don’t assume your employees know how much you appreciate their strong work ethic or specific contributions to an achievement. Communicate those specific feelings often and directly with gratitude and recognition. The effect is clear and everyone at the company benefits when recognition is part of the working experience.

And in taking my own advice, I’d like to thank and recognize the incredible colleagues I get to work with on a daily basis at Summit Leadership Partners. Each of you continuously challenges me to grow and perform at my highest through your own modeling of our values and passion for our clients. Thank you.