You’ve heard the old saying, “People don't leave bad jobs. They leave bad bosses." It’s true, and more often than not, it has nothing to do with salary. Some bad bosses are poor communicators, some can't make decisions, others micromanage. But most bad bosses are bad because they don’t pay attention to currencies more compelling than money.
To the boss who says, “people are thanked with a paycheck” or "it's not my job to make employees happy," think again. A simple and sincere gesture of gratitude is one of the best ways to keep your employees engaged and productive. And those two little words – “thank you” – are the simplest way for a leaders to positively impact the organization.
"Treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers." -Stephen Covey
Neuroscience explains what happens when someone acknowledges our efforts and thanks us for being a valued member of the community (e.g., dopamine, oxytocin, etc.). Scientific studies have shown that the neurotransmitters released during expressions of gratitude actually help the brain decrease stress and increase happiness and well-being.
Despite the fact that many leaders are reluctant to show appreciation to an employee just for doing his job, there are documented benefits for both the individual and the organization. According to decades of research, gratitude in the workplace delivers:
Increased productivity: Employees feel more motivated to go the extra mile when they feel that they are valued and that their work is appreciated.
Greater well-being: Genuinely grateful people are less stressed with healthier immune systems and take fewer sick days;
Greater mental strength: Genuinely grateful people are more resilient when faced with adversity and better able to solve problems and overcome obstacles;
Contagious positivity: People who feel valued and appreciated are more positive and cooperative with others;
Greater job satisfaction: Employees who feel appreciated take pride in their work and get satisfaction from contributing to the organization.
"People work for money, but they go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards." -Dale Carnegie
Carnegie's view of employee engagement Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs speaks directly to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Employees will not get to self-actualization without belonging and recognition. Great leaders understand how basic human needs align with workplace performance.
Everyone wants to know that what we do matters. Two little words – “thank you” – are a powerful motivator. But there are other ways to convey appreciation and keep morale and performance high. Beyond “thank you,” here are four phrases great leaders use often to acknowledge employees in a meaningful way.
1. “Our team is lucky to have you.” Let folks know that what they do is important to their colleagues and the success of the team. Let them know you appreciate them with a boost to their social status.
2. “How did you do that?” When employees go above and beyond or accomplish something special, acknowledge their efforts and recognize that everyone has the capacity to both teach and learn. It gives people a chance to shine for their contributions, and being a "know-it-all" is very unattractive.
3. “How can I help you continue to do a great job?” This simple question communicates two powerful messages. The first is that they are doing a good job and the success of the team depends upon everyone pitching in to help. The second is that your most important task is to ensure everyone is successful. A little humility goes a long way.
4. “How are you doing?” While this is often just a passing greeting, learning how to ask with intention and showing sincere interest in their response conveys you see employees as people – and you care about them. This takes practice, but when mastered, can be a powerful way to let people know they are important to you.
"The two things that people want more than sex or money are recognition and praise." - Mary Kay Ash