Subscribe to Inc. magazine

The most powerful and underused statement in business, is _____?

You can do a lot of important things as a leader to improve your business and the engagement of your employees - this one simple thing will matter more than any thing else you do.

I'm going to keep this post incredibly simple. Though I'm not going to give you thisincredibly important answer right away, I'm sure you will guess it before the end. You don't have to searchvery far to find great leadership advice and tips. These tend to be spot on, but sometimes the most simplistic--and important--little things get lost.

We want to have an engaged workforce and you can tryall sorts of elaborate methodsto create a better and more effectiveworkplace. You can bring in management consultants, continuous improvement experts, or any other type of guru; none will be able to identify a solution more powerful than this.This simple statement will lower your turnover, lift employee engagement and morale, and improve the productivity of your workforce.

You can pay people more money, which will give you a short-term lift. You can give away free food, but that too will pass. This phrase, however, will give you a continual benefit. People will not only want to work harder, they will want to tell others about where they work. They will serve as advocates for your business.

What is this underused statement? If you have not guessed it by now, the answer is "Thank You." Thank you for what you do. Thank you for a job well done. Thank you with any form of verbal recognition can pay huge dividends (and don't forget about a good old-fashioned written thank you).

Businesses are more fast-paced than ever. There is an understandable expectation that everyone should do their job, and do it well. But don't let the chaos of the workday serve as an excuse to not to thankothers. Don't take for granted that people know that you appreciate what they do. Tell them. And don't tell them just to tell them, tell them because they deserve it.

Next time you feel overwhelmed at work pause for a moment. And then go find someone who has done something great and thank him or her for it. They will appreciate it and you will gain energy from doing so.

So my last message to you is Thank You. Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing this important message with others, and thank you for creating a better workplace.

PS:Don't forget: this also applies to customers!

Last updated: Aug 5, 2014

DAVID VAN ROOY | Columnist

David Van Rooy is senior director of global leadership development at Walmart. Previously at the company, he held roles in international HR and was responsible for the world's largest performance-management and employee-engagement programs, covering approximately 2.2 million employees globally.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

Register on today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments

Or sign up using: