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5 Ways to Give Thanks at Work

Get your free resource:  5 Ways to Give Thanks at Work. Download it here!

2020 has been a tough year for you and your employees:

  • You’ve had to adjust and adapt, often quickly and without a well-defined plan
  • Employees had to learn a different way to work, with new technology and oftentimes with caring for loved ones at the same time
  • The emotional strain of the pandemic, the economy, social justice and an uncertain future weighed heavily on us all

Because of that, there has never been a better time for leaders to find ways to show appreciate and gratitude.

Let me be clear, it is always a good thing to show gratitude. Yet studies show us that the majority of workplaces are appreciation wastelands. Recent studies show that “people are less likely to express gratitude at work than anyplace else.” Yet 81% of working adults say they would work harder if their boss were more grateful for their work and 95% of workers say that a boss who expresses gratitude is more likely to be successful.

Not only does gratitude matter to employees, it matters to the bottom line. Managers who express gratitude achieve up to 2X the profitability of their peers, are 20% higher in customer satisfaction and significantly higher marks in employee engagement, trust and accountability.  The US Department of Labor reports that the primary reason people leave organization is that they don’t feel appreciated by their manager. (data from Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results by Gostick and Elton, 2020)

Our workplaces are dismal at showing gratitude, even though, study after study shows the outcomes of appreciation and gratitude are overwhelmingly positive.

  • Increased levels of well-being and life satisfaction
  • More happiness
  • Better energy
  • More optimism
  • Less depression
  • Improved health, specifically lower blood pressure
  • Higher levels of control of their environment
  • More personal growth
  • Higher sense of purpose
  • Better ability to deal with difficulties
  • Fewer negative coping strategies (think drugs, alcohol, and other harmful habits)
  • Better sleep
  • Increased longevity
  • Positive impact to others

I hope that I may have convinced you to give gratitude a go. I suspect that it is in such short supply at work that you might be puzzled about where to begin. Not to fear, it is surprisingly simple. To come to your aid, I’ve created a one-page download with five ways to give thanks. Five ways that are proven, practical and do not take a big budget or a bunch of time. They do take some practice, observation and the ability to get over yourself and be a bit vulnerable.

Let me first say that to be effective, whatever your method of choice, the appreciation that you offer much meet these four criteria:

  1. Simple
  2. Frequent
  3. Sincere
  4. Specific

A few words about each of the criteria:


I once worked for a boss that was the queen of the extravagant. She hosted formal dinners the demanded black-tie dress for blue collar workers. She took folks to five-star restaurants who could not enjoy the experience as they were so out of the element. Her attempts, although well intended, were stiff, brittle and contrived. I never, not once, felt appreciated at the conclusion of these galas.

I have also seen the lift that comes with a manager who does something simple and spontaneous. Ordering lunch in when a team is under pressure to meet a deadline. Shooing people out of the office on Friday at noon after a stretch of long days.

Bottom line – simple gestures work, but only if they are combined with the following three criteria.


Somehow, we have created workplace cultures who believe that doling out a few comments and perhaps a bit of a bonus once is year is sufficient. Trust me, it is not.

I can conceive of situations in which you provide TOO much appreciation, but I assure you that it is hardly likely. And if you keep it simple, sincere and specific – it is hard to believe that upping your appreciation activity puts you anywhere in danger of overkill.

If you are a once a year person, challenge yourself to show appreciation once a month. Then once a week. And then once a day. Remember that we are talking simple, sincere and specific. The leaders that make a point of noticing and naming the good things that people are dong can show appreciation in a passing comment. And that counts, big time!


If you don’t believe it, don’t say it. Your goal is to offer sincere appreciation for things you truly appreciate about another. Don’t fall prey to the notation that you should only appreciate the herculean, above and beyond, bring home the gold moments.

I will always recall my sincere appreciation to am employee in a pressroom I managed. On my daily walk abounds I merely shared with him that I appreciated the fact that he was someone who I could count on. He came to work everyday and was there on time. And I appreciated that in him. His response has stuck with me over time. He became a bit emotional as he replied to me, “I’ve worked here for 12 years and no one has ever thanked me for what I do.”


While easy phrases like “good job” or “well done” don’t hurt a bit, they also fall short of the benefit of appreciation that is more specific. For when gratitude is specific:

  • I know that you really were paying attention to me and my performance
  • I learn what is working well
  • I’m highly more likely to repeat that exact same behavior

Getting specific requires more work on your part. To observe. To deconstruct a complex task into its component parts. To assess what factors really mattered.

If it was you, would you rather get a generic “atta boy” or a genuine appreciation of the way you managed a challenging client situation by they way your listened and asked good questions?

Ready to show some appreciation at work?

I am here to help! I have created a one-page download of 5 Ways to Give Thanks at Work. As always, they are proven, practical and powerful. And they can be done without a big budget and with not a lot of planning.

Get your copy here.

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