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  • Employee performance: The value of expressing gratitude in the workplace

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According to an article in the Nov. 21 issue of The Wall Street Journal, "the workplace ranks dead last among the places people express gratitude." I found this interesting since many — maybe even most — of our customers are aware of the benefits of saying thanks, and in fact have clearly defined systems for doing so on a regular basis.

Even the crusty former Chairman of General Electric, Jack Welch, had this to say about thanking employees: "If you don't do it, you don't have a culture. You are just a bunch of bricks and mortar."

So why don't more managers do this? One common attitude is, "We thank people around here: it's called a paycheck." Another is that some managers think: "No one thanks me. Why should I have to coddle others?" But to my way of thinking, those people are wrong, as they are ignoring the many benefits, which include lower turnover and higher profit.

Happy People Make Better Employees

Recognition and gratitude are workplace strategies that are very cost effective and can make a big difference in an employee's performance and sense of well being. Thomas Wright, a professor at Kansas State University, said in a ScienceDaily article, "The benefits of a psychologically well work force are quite consequential to employers, especially so in our highly troubled economic environment. Simply put, psychologically well employees are better performers. Since higher employee performance is inextricably tied to an organization's bottom line, employee well-being can play a key role in establishing a competitive advantage."

So what actual dollar difference can this make? Wright's article went on to cite: "In a sample of management personnel with average salaries in the $65,000 range, he found that could cost the organization roughly $75 a week per person in lost productivity. With 10 employees that translates to $750 per week in performance variance; for 100 employees the numbers are $7,500 per week or $390,000 per year."

A Little Recognition Goes a Long Way

Think about that — if your company (or unit) has 100 employees, you could drop almost $400k more to the bottom line by making your employees feel good about working there. Using "The Whole Person Concept" recognizes employees for everything they are: employees, parents, mothers and fathers, etc. Recognizing employees for a job well done or a personal milestone, like an anniversary or birthday, goes a long way towards making them feel like people rather than numbers.

Combining a personal, one on one thank you with recognition via a company digital signage or bulletin board can create a lot of good feeling, and better performance as well. A turnkey workplace communications program can make a big difference for corporate morale for less than 1 percent of the potential savings mentioned in the research above.

And a "Thank You" is free.

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Frank Kenna
Frank Kenna III is CEO and President of The Marlin Co., which helps improve safety, employee morale, productivity and performance through its workplace digital signage products. He is responsible for setting the company’s strategic direction and developing new ideas to help implement workplace communication programs.
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