- Praising essential workers — especially those that may not be in the public eye — may be key to retention and maintaining worker health beyond COVID-19, according to a joint university study. Brigham Young University, University of Arizona, Rider University and New York University were behind the study.
- Essential workers that did not receive public praise were more likely to recover from the stress of their jobs in unhealthy ways, the study said, including drinking, smoking and overeating.
- “From an organizational perspective, this is a pretty powerful insight because companies spend a lot of money on other programs or initiatives that are intended to improve well-being of these workers, and yet may not be positively impacting these workers in the same way that felt gratitude does,” Sarah Doyle, one of the study’s authors and assistant professor of management and organizations at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, said in a statement.
In a work era rife with burnout and rapid change, giving simple thanks may be especially key to keeping talent on board.
Supervisors that fail to express gratitude to direct reports could sink morale, a University of Southern California Marshall School of Business report from November 2020 noted. Preferences for how that thanks looks (be it written or spoken) varies between generations and individuals, the study noted, but a majority of workers surveyed said they are “bothered” if they don’t receive expected thanks.
Luckily for employers, that appreciation need not be complicated. For workers surveyed by Deloitte in a 2019 survey, most said a simple “thank you” is preferred for their day-to-day accomplishments. As such, successful organizations "create cultures, structures, programs, and policies that help people find meaning in their work,” including through recognition, Deloitte said.
Prior to the pandemic, employers were leaning into appreciation experiences that took employees out of the office. While such experiences may be vastly different in a post-pandemic environment, employers may still find success in making appreciation an embedded part of company culture beyond one-time events, experts previously told HR Dive.