The Importance of “Thanks-Giving” in the Workplace

Approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, many people take time to give thanks for what they have.  This is a good time to remind employers of the positive impact “giving thanks” has on their employees, work environments and their organizations’ cultures.

Understandably, employees feel more positive and happy when their efforts and hard work are recognized by their employers. That happiness can increase mental health for employees, and carry over into employees’ home lives and interactions with others. The benefits do not end there. The benefits extend to the workplaces, and lead to more productive, motivated and engaged workforces, resulting in more positive and effective work environments and cultures.

Over the years, Gallup research has consistently shown that when employees are regularly given credit for their contributions, and shown appreciation for their efforts (even non-monetary): (1) their productivity is increased; (2) they feel a greater commitment to the work they are performing; (3) they have higher job satisfaction; and (4) they are more loyal to their employers and more likely to stay with the organization. In addition, recognizing employees fosters an atmosphere of trust in the workplace. A high percentage of employees who regularly receive recognition and thanks from their supervisors report that they have higher levels of trust in those supervisors and, in turn, the organizations.

Conversely, lack of acknowledgment of a job well done, or dismissing an employee’s work, has significant negative consequences. Employees who feel undervalued are not going to work as hard as they can, are oftentimes disgruntled, generally have more performance and attendance issues, and may eventually look to leave the organization for better employment opportunities causing turnover and associated recruitment/employee replacement costs. Further, those undervalued employees may be more likely to seek assistance from a third party, such as a union, to get the recognition and rewards they feel are lacking.

Showing appreciation to employees begins with simple acts, such as personally thanking employees and treating them with respect. Be specific! The goal is that employees realize the thanks and appreciation are genuine and know that their employers are paying attention to their individual work and efforts. This also serves as a positive reinforcement of the employees’ specific work behaviors. Other ways for employers to show appreciation to employees are: recognizing an employee’s good work in a meeting; planning periodic social activities (e.g., ordering in lunch, a holiday party); and providing training/progression/promotion opportunities. Employers may also consider implementing formal reward and recognition programs to facilitate sustained employee appreciation. There are numerous other ways for employers to demonstrate their appreciation to employees, ranging from low-cost actions (i.e., formal employee recognition letters) to those actions and programs that have a more significant financial impact on the organizations (i.e., annual bonus programs).

Regardless of the method used to show appreciation, employers should remember that to positively impact employee engagement, motivation, productivity and retention, the “thanks-giving” should be regular, timely, sincere, applied equally and consistently throughout the organization, and tied to employee performance.

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About HR Headaches
HR Headaches is a blog for Human Resources professionals, business owners, and in-house counsel to get the latest news, analysis and tips in the area of labor and employment law. Every day there are new court decisions, agency interpretations, and regulations which affect the workplace, making it difficult, if not impossible, for many employers to keep current. HR Headaches is dedicated to providing information in a practical, no-nonsense manner to help employers avoid legal disputes and keep policies up to date.
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