- If bosses or supervisors fail to express gratitude for employees' work, morale tanks, according to a University of Southern California Marshall School of Business report published Nov. 17 in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly. The study analyzed preferences for written or spoken thanks, which can vary by age and gender, researchers found. However, the majority of participants (68.5%) in the study said they are either bothered a little or bothered a lot when they do not receive expected gratitude.
- One experiment was based on a month-long gratitude journaling exercise completed by 58 American employees, and the other involved a survey of more than 1,200 employees. About half (52.9%) of the respondents said they are thanked at least weekly by their bosses or supervisors, compared to 75.1% who said they are thanked by colleagues on at least a weekly basis. Less than a third of employees surveyed, regardless of age, preferred handwritten notes only. Employees ages 18-29 were most likely to prefer both written and spoken thanks (43%). Meanwhile, almost half (45.5%) of employees ages 45-60, and employees age 60 and over (44.7%) preferred expressions of verbal thanks. Men were more likely to prefer being thanked in front of others (44.6%) than women (31.9%), according to researchers.
- There is an "enormous" value in gratitude journals for intentionality and goal setting, the researchers said. Based on the journaling exercise, written thanks was particularly suitable for major accomplishments and efforts, the researchers found. And, spoken thanks is well suited for smaller efforts and minor accomplishments. "[Expressing thanks] can truly uplift the morale in the office and result in a better work environment," a participant said, according to the study. Giving thanks more often and in a variety of forms should be "built on a sincere appreciation of others," the researchers said. "Furthermore, it requires art and skill to express it effectively," they said.
Showing appreciation for employees should be combined with building employee engagement, according to experts.
Fostering engagement in the workplace is more tangible than creating an employees' happiness, Vivian Woo, senior people science analyst at Culture Amp, previously told HR Dive. "People fluctuate in their levels of happiness within short periods of time, and it's easily influenced by different sources in a person's life," Woo said. "This is why organizations focus on employee engagement. It's influenced by aspects that are within their control." Woo added, "A happy employee might not necessarily be a productive employee, but engaged employees tend to perform better than their unengaged counterparts."
Managers who understand the best ways to make their team members feel appreciated can help increase engagement, which is shown to be linked to many organizational outcomes, like turnover and performance. More than half (60%) of employees surveyed by Limeade Institute who felt "cared for" said they plan to remain three or more years with their companies, compared to 7% of those who said they didn't feel cared for, according to a white paper published in October. The overwhelming majority of respondents (90%) who felt cared for said they were likely to suggest their company as an exceptional place to work, compared to 9% who said they didn't feel cared about.