August 3, 2017

“Thank You” is the Simplest & Most Powerful Employee Recognition Program

Let’s jump straight to the point: 81% of Americans would work harder for a more grateful boss. Yet, how often do you even say these 2 simple words, “thank you”? Despite the overwhelming benefits to both employees and employer, many businesses overlook employee recognition programs. But note this, the biggest mistake you could make is selling gratitude short!

How Employees View Gratitude

Employee recognition is one of the most important aspects of successful retention, a positive work culture, high morale, and fostering desirable employee behavior. The power in recognition for an employee is knowing that they are a valuable member of the team. As human beings, it’s natural for our team members to want appreciation for their hard work and to feel like what they do matters.

Employees & Gratitude:

  • 93% feel that grateful bosses are more likely to be successful
  • 70% would feel better about themselves if their boss was more grateful
  • Less than 15% express daily gratitude to friends or colleagues themselves.
  • 60% never express gratitude at work (or only once per year).

Source: John Templeton Foundation Gratitude Survey

According to the Gratitude Survey, “people were least likely to express gratitude in workplaces . . . despite wishing to be thanked more often themselves at work.” As seen in the graphic above.

But why?

As the leader of the team, one of our core goals should be to foster a culture of respect where everyone feels appreciated and a part of the family. The only way to create a positive culture like that is to lead by example.

And that is the power in saying, “thank you.”

Cutting Paychecks is NOT an Employee Recognition Program

Despite the belief, a paycheck is not a viable substitute for, “thank you.” (But “well done” is.)

The popular TV show, “Mad Men,” portrays this perspective well. On the show, advertising copywriter, Peggy, wants recognition for her work and complains to her boss, Don Draper, that he never says thank you. He snaps back with, “That’s what the money is for!”

Sound like your attitude?

If so, it’s time for a paradigm shift, because a paycheck doesn’t say, “thank you for your hard work,” it says, “our exchange is complete.”

When you handout a paycheck, you’re paying your employee for what they produced for you. It’s not charity, it’s not recognition, it’s holding up your end of the deal. You’re paying what is due in return for the employee fulfilling their role in moving the company forward.

On the other hand, there are several actual employee recognition programs that are popular, including (but not limited to):

  • Bonuses
  • Employee of the Month
  • Length of Service
  • Achievement Awards
  • Employee Appreciation Day

But one of the simplest and most powerful employee recognition programs is verbal praise!

Show Your Gratitude With 2 Simple Words: “Thank You”

The lesson for today is remember to tell your team, “thank you.” It will help you develop an attitude of gratitude as a leader (which is contagious) and improve your well-being, relationships, productivity, and work culture.

How to Express Your Gratitude with the Words “Thank You”:

  1. Use it to give personal recognition.
  2. Be timely, specific, and genuine.
  3. Explain why you’re thankful.

Showing your gratitude for each team member’s hard work helps them feel appreciated and in turn, motivated to continue moving the company forward. But also, as the boss, it helps us feel good by recognizing the amazing team we have working for us!


Here are 3 things you should remember:

  1. Everyone craves appreciation, it’s in our nature.
  2. You get back what you put out.

And 3. . . .

Gratefulness = Happiness, Happiness ≠ Gratefulness

I love the quote:

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” — Brother David Steindl-Rast

Having been on both sides of the employee/employer relationship, this perspective gives me great insight on how gratitude has a direct correlation with our daily happiness.

In fact, our neurochemistry is incredible. From the ability to communicate and perceive pain and pleasure to the string of complicated chemical reactions that begin and end the digestive process. This astounding communication system in our bodies is made up of neurotransmitters (sending chemical signals) and neuroreceptors (receiving signals). One of our favorite neurotransmitters is dopamine, a chemical that our brain uses in the reward/motivating behavior centers.

In this stressful world we live in piled with demands, deadlines, and expectations, it isn’t uncommon to look for unhealthy things in our life to comfort us and artificially stimulate a dopamine rush. Which bathes our neuroreceptors and tricks our brains into feeling rewarded (or happy). But continual “fake stimulation” of dopamine will lead to depleted brain nutrients, depression, and loss of personal connections.

Yet, one of the most powerful ways out of this depressed state is a simple gratitude journal—a daily list of the things you are grateful for that day.

Research has shown that a gratitude journal stimulates a healthy release of dopamine.

As a busy doctorpreneur, I use one of my all-time favorite apps now, Day One, to snap pictures of moments throughout the day and then at night, write a gratitude entry about them. Keeping this gratitude journal has been monumental. Not only has it dramatically improved my happiness, but it’s also helped me realize how blessed I am. Not because of my material possessions, but because of the people in my life.

It’s helped me recognize how grateful I am for my team and the incredible journey we are on together to create a unique, one-of-a-kind, extraordinary business. I couldn’t do it without them. So, to ensure they know how valuable they are to the company vision and stick around to see it through, I try to show my gratitude every chance I get!

9-Minute Journey of Gratitude and Amazement

For a really great video on gratitude, please join the 5-million+ people who watched Louie Schwartzberg’s TED-talk:

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