Employee engagement has been at the top of the HR agenda for a long time now, but it seems a lot of managers still don’t understand why they should take good care to make a workplace somewhere people want to work. Leaders who practice value-centred leadership find that gratitude is a good starting point. In the workplace, gratitude can positively impact such factors as job satisfaction, loyalty and team cohesion while reducing staff turnover and increasing organisational profitability and productivity.
We’ve been looking at a new book The Power Paradox by American psychologist Dacher Keltner. His premise is that it is the empathetic, generous person who reaches out to others who gains esteem and power. Keltner suggests leaders who focus on the interests, humanity and dignity of the people around them are most successful. He thinks that expressions of gratitude create strong, collaborative ties and pave the way for greater influence. The simple ‘thank you’ really works – being thanked for completed work led participants in research experiments to be twice as likely to volunteer for more work.
The feel-good factor
Employees who feel valued will work harder; it’s as simple as that! A study reported by Harvard Medical School and completed by researchers at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania proves the point: “Researchers randomly divided university fundraisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group, assigned to work on a different day, were given a pep talk from the director of giving, who told the fundraisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.”
People feel better about themselves if their boss thanks them, and will work harder for a grateful boss. Dave Skibinki, CEO of SnapMD, a software company illustrates the virtuous circle: “Every business owner has limited resources to compensate their employees for their work, but every business owner has an unlimited supply of thank you’s. Second, every business survives due to its customers. If you are in the habit of saying thank you to your staff, they can then say thank you to customers. You are in essence creating a culture of gratitude. That’s a good thing for any business.”
Positive reinforcement in the form of gratitude means that you are communicating with staff about what you want to see more of from them at work. Nothing is more effective than expressing real gratitude. So, don’t just say “our employees are our greatest asset,” but show that you really do actually believe this to be true. Yes, staff are paid to turn up and work and are expected to do it well and conscientiously. Want them to go the extra mile? To care about your organisation, your product and your customers? Then show them you care.
Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, refuses to treat his staff as “human resource” or as “intellectual capital”. His distinctive approach has resulted in a transformation of his organisation. By putting employees on top of the organisational pyramid, he argues: “your company can fully realise the value created in the interface between customers and employees.”
Say ‘thank you’ to your colleagues today!