Gratitude as a Workplace Strategy: The Benefits of Consistently Thanking Your Employees

A Sit-Down with Marlene Johnson, Recognition Client Relationship Manager.

As we gear up for a new baseball season, I can’t help but think of the iconic line from Field of Dreams: “if you build it, he will come.” It’s a phrase that’s applicable to many aspects of life, including the workplace. When organizations prioritize recognizing their employees’ achievements, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. Having managed major enterprise reward programs for over two decades, I can confidently say this: recognition is a funny thing. We all want it, but over time, we can become complacent and we might suffer from recognition fatigue. However, taking the time to express gratitude and acknowledge employees’ contributions can make all the difference in business. Real appreciation and acknowledgement and thoughtful recognition are powerful rewards of giving, and the satisfaction that one feels when receiving it builds a strong bond between workers and their employer.

Industry statistics demonstrate the importance of employee recognition in business. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that employee recognition programs when done well positively impact employee engagement, retention, and productivity. Other studies find that employees who are recognized regularly are more than twice as likely to be engaged in their work. Countless other research, like that of Deloitte, draws direct lines between recognition and increased rates of retention. These statistics demonstrate that recognition programs have a measurable impact on employee well-being and overall business success.

But the benefits of employee recognition go beyond the workplace. According to a December 2022 article from the Mayo Clinic, “expressing gratitude is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits, including improved sleep, mood, and immunity. Gratitude can also decrease depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and the risk of disease“. It’s clear that recognition programs are critical to supporting employees’ health and wellness – both mentally and physiologically. And healthier employees are better employees.

To ensure the success of recognition programs, it’s important to utilize them effectively. Recognizing employees for demonstrating core values, achieving sales goals, and celebrating milestones are all important factors. But equally important is motivating each other to send more regular recognition and gratefulness. When employees feel good, they naturally start recognizing one another, building momentum, and increasing program utilization as the recognition flywheel spins. Ultimately, gratitude becomes abundant and embodied in the culture.

In conclusion, don’t underestimate the importance of regular employee recognition, particularly in large enterprise companies. I’ve witnessed first hand how consistent streams of recognition can have a measurable impact on employee well-being and contribute to the overall success of a business. Let’s create a workplace culture where regular recognition and appreciation of every team member’s contributions are foundational pillars. By demonstrating gratitude and acknowledging the efforts of our colleagues, we can build a stronger, more motivated team and “go the distance” together.