Throughout our daily interactions, we are compelled to say "thank you." For many of us, it is almost a natural habit. We say "thank you" at home, at school, at social events, in stores, in fast food lines, and even at church. But appreciation is largely missing from the workplace.
After all, one could ask, why should I thank someone for doing their job or for going the extra mile to help the company or a co-worker? They're getting paid; no thanks needed.
As it turns out, a 2013 survey by the John Templeton Foundation found that "people were least likely to express gratitude in workplaces despite wishing to be thanked more often themselves at work." Beyond that, respondents ranked their current job lowest on a list of things they were grateful for. Yet over 90% agreed that "grateful people are more fulfilled."
At least according to measured research results, gratitude in the workplace is needed and possible. However, in order to see its full potential, we have to understand its effects. Many times, appreciation in the workplace is viewed as insincere lip service when it really has the power to be much more.
Raises, benefits and rewards are all good, but what employees also want is to be periodically shown appreciation for their work. Here are a few reasons grateful employees produce good results at work:
1. They are motivated.
A 2013 study by Glassdoor found that "80 percent of employees say they feel motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work."
When one receives appreciation, it activates the reward neurotransmitter known as dopamine. That feeling of being appreciated drives us to "virtuous cycle" which reinforces that feeling and motivates to seek out more opportunities to be appreciated.
2. They feel fulfilled.
Showing appreciation shows employees that they are valued, respected and validated. When someone takes an interest in our work, it leaves us feeling fulfilled. It also can increase energy and work performance.
When an employee feels fulfilled at work, that sense of significance can spill over into other aspects of his life.
3. They cultivate helping behaviors.
Showing appreciation is like a set of dominoes. The more it is given and received at work, the more it could be given and received in other areas of the employee's life. He will be more eager to work himself and to help other people.
Jeremy Adam Smith at the Greater Good Science Center states, "When people are thanked for their work, they are more likely to increase their helping behavior and to provide help to others."
4. They are better prepared for failure.
Multiple studies have shown that grateful people are more likely to experience low levels of stress or negative physical health and well-being. The healthier a person is in every way, the more she can bounce back from setbacks at work.
Grateful people are more likely to see beyond the immediate crisis to greater good and gain for the company and for themselves. They are also able to work considerably well under pressure and see their work as an opportunity not just to make money, but also to learn and grow.
5. They establish good social connections.
Grateful employees who express appreciation to new people they meet are more likely to develop good relationships with them.
A 2014 study done by researchers at the University of New South Wales found that "thanking a new acquaintance for their help makes them more likely to seek an ongoing social relationship with you. Saying thank you provides a valuable signal that you are someone with whom a high-quality relationship could be formed."
Creating a workplace culture of appreciation can serve as a boost to your company's level of productivity, your employees' happiness, and your peace of mind.