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How to Demonstrate Gratitude to Your Employees

November 8, 2021

The pandemic has impacted people in various ways over the past 18 months, and researchers are reporting that many employees are feeling exhausted, burned out and stressed. Gallup has found in their research that employee wellbeing and engagement at work tend to have a reciprocal effect, although in the beginning of the pandemic, engagement levels stayed steady as employees worked hard to shift how they worked. Yet 18 months into this major change, many people are feeling a lack of motivation and joy.

Adam Grant’s recent article on languishing—a sense of stagnation and emptiness—encapsulates what many people are feeling this year. Grant further describes languishing as muddling through your days feeling like you are in a fog. The emotional, physical, and mental toll of the pandemic has negatively impacted wellbeing for many employees. Most employees also report a lack of appreciation at work, which exacerbates their disengagement and decreases productivity.

Gallup reports that lack of appreciation is one of the most common reasons employees leave an organization. High performing organizations have managers who take an interest in employees through regular feedback, appreciation, development, and growth. While it’s important to consistently recognize employees throughout the year, now is a great time to ensure you are showing gratitude and appreciation to your employees when some may be languishing, exhausted, or stressed.

Here are six strategies for showing gratitude:

  • Company celebrations. One of my clients, Yazoo Mills, hosts several events throughout the year such as a summer picnic, an ice cream truck in August, and a BBQ lunch in September. They recently had luncheon catered by Chick-fil-A and gave each employee a $50 gift card to say thanks for their hard work. With the added stress of the pandemic, taking time to celebrate accomplishments brings employees together and gets them focused on the good they have achieved during this challenging time.
  • Hand-written thank you note. Don’t underestimate the value of a thoughtful, well-written thank you note sharing what you appreciate about an employee. Taking the time to specifically recognize an employee (along with a small gift) can reinforce great work and ensure your employee knows the impact of their contributions to the team and the company.
  • Wellness day off. One of my clients is offering a “Wellness” day off between now and the end of the year for every employee. Many employees have worked extra hours during the pandemic, and some are exhausted from trying to juggle work and home responsibilities. Even offering an employee a chance to go home a few hours early can be a great way to show appreciation. Recent research has shown that flexibility is one of the most desired work benefits that will keep talented employees.
  • Build in social time. With many employees working virtually during the pandemic, some teams have missed having social time to reconnect. Whether in person or virtually, build in some social events for employees to connect and take a break. Even if your team is virtual, there are many creative ways to have fun and build connections. One of my clients held a virtual wine tasting with a winery in Napa Valley last year for their leadership team. Another client participated in a virtual cooking class with their team.
  • Growth Opportunities. Provide opportunities for an employee to take on an exciting project or participate in a class to develop their skills. Research has shown that Millennials and Gen Z in particular value career development. Growth opportunities can also be experiential such as having an employee attend an executive meeting or present to the Board of Directors.
  • Celebrate team accomplishments. Have each of your employees write a list of team accomplishments over the past year and then compile them and celebrate them over lunch. Taking time to acknowledge the hard work and accomplishments your team has achieved is a form of recognition and appreciation.

The best way to show appreciation to your employees are the small, regular interactions you have with them each day. Taking a few minutes to connect on a personal level, saying “thank you”, giving an employee meaningful feedback, coaching someone through a challenge, providing support, checking in, and helping set (and enforce) boundaries (like not sending or checking emails on the weekends or after a certain time of day) are all ways to show daily appreciation.

The direct manager has the biggest influence and impact on an employee’s well-being at work.

I’d love to hear the ways you are showing appreciation to your employees. Please share with our community in the comments below. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Comments
Beverly
December 19, 2023

Whenever I have a work project that I keep putting off - I think about delegating that project to someone else - which accomplishes 2 things- it gets the project done and frees us my brain space thinking about it.

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Reply from Laurie:
Absolutely, Beverly! We create more time for ourselves, and we can release the mental stress it is taking up.
Melissa Smith
December 7, 2023

Good morning. I loved this read. Thank you so much for sharing. Sincerely, Melissa :)

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Reply from Laurie:
You're welcome, Melissa! Thanks for your comment.
Anonymous
November 29, 2023

Thank you for this blog Laurie. I liked most part and specially "As organizations have become more complex, there is a tendency to require employees to do more with less. This is a slippery slope, and often can result in employees feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. One of the biggest contributors to this is not evaluating resources during the strategic planning process." I will use this practice "A best practice is to do what I call Priority Planning—putting important practices on your calendar ahead of time so they become a priority in your day. Examples of activities to Priority Plan include scheduling recurring coaching sessions with each team member, time for strategic thinking and planning, vacations, doctor appointments, important children’s events, and blocks of time for focused work on projects." To be more effective, I will get a good rest so I can have enough energy in the morning. I will read the blog again along with the other links on employee evaluation. Thank you so much Laurie. Best wishes to you and your family.

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Reply from Laurie:
So glad you will be implementing these things!
Tracey
October 23, 2023

this is a test comment

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Add an answer
Anonymous
October 23, 2023

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lynn beisel
October 20, 2023

I love the feedback on the more than 50 hours of work. AND filling time. So true. Unfortunately, showing that you work longer hours is still seen as being a "hard worker" - not sure how to change that though.

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Reply from Laurie:
Lynn, I agree that working longer hours is still seen as working "hard" in our culture. I wish this was an easy shift. Our society needs to redefine what being productive means--not related to hours, but true productivity, which I find is not related to hours, but is related to focus. I do think leaders in organizations can model great boundaries and set the tone for their culture. Thank you for your comment!
Krystle
September 26, 2023

I enjoyed the read. I concur that transitioning from technical skills to delegating results was a task within itself. I did not realize I was almost trying to do the same thing from my previous position, and it was not working. However, I am seeing the results of how delegating daily tasks makes my job and workload easier. Thank you, Laurie.

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Reply from Laurie:
Thank you, Krystle! I think this is something most managers are challenged with when shifting from a more technical role to a leadership role. Delegation can really help free up time for the leadership aspects of our job.
Anonymous
August 29, 2023

Thank you for sharing information about your trip Laurie! All 3 things resonate with me - probably #1 being the biggest. I know when I'm gone for a week, I'm still thinking about work and need a vacation when I get back because I did not relax enough. I think your idea of a longer vacation is definitely in my future!!

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Reply from Laurie:
I think it takes me a week to just wind down before I can really relax. My goal next year is to take at least one two week (rather than one week at a time) vacation!
Perry Crutchfield
August 22, 2023

Hey Laurie, My take on your list - 1 - everyone has a story - listen 2- social media causes interpersonal problems 5- generational differences create hurdles / earn it you aren't entitled / we should help them get there not give it to them 6 AMEN some leaders I would have followed thru Hell, some I wish - well, you know 7- true BUT be as good as your word and 14- Hopefully we leave some good from our efforts, I know the good leaders I have had have. Seen a lot in my career but it really comes down to treat others the way you want to be treated, fair, honest, and straight forward. Good read. Take care

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Reply from Laurie:
I always appreciate your perspective, Perry! I so agree with you that we should treat others with respect, just like we want to be treated. I have also had leaders that I would follow anywhere, and others who I have learned what NOT to do!
LISA KINNEY
August 16, 2023

I love this so much and thank you so much for sharing! I really just love realizing that enjoying the simple things sometimes is the best! Also recognizing that what is important and fun to you may not be everyone else's fun on the on the trip. “Do we get to keep these toiletries?” was my favorite!!!! :):) Glad you had a great time and got to spend it with your family!

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Reply from Laurie:
I am so glad you are enjoying the blog post Lisa!
Sandra
August 15, 2023

I very much resonate with lesson no 3! Thank you Laurie

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Reply from Laurie:
Thanks, Sandra!
Beverly Zook
August 14, 2023

I think the part that you might have missed in their top 5 things, some of which were not "Italian" or even different from home, all of them happened with you, both of you. And i think that is what they will remember too. And you've got tons of photos that will remind them of what the Sistine Chapel looked like - then they might remember what it sounded like or smelled like. Oh- and i agree with you 100% about sleep!

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Reply from Laurie:
You are so right Bev--it was really about the experience of traveling together. I have on my list to create an album from our trip so we can look back and remember everything we did!
Tracey
August 14, 2023

LOTS of great take-aways from this post! Thank you for posting! I especially love "slow down to speed up". That's a keeper!

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Tracey
August 14, 2023

testing blog comment flow

did this come through?
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Anonymous
August 14, 2023

the not getting enough rest to be at my best. definitely need to get more quality sleep and make that a priority

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Reply from Laurie:
Sandi Richardson
August 10, 2023

It really is hard to narrow down the 3 lessons into one because they are all so interconnected. You need to give your mind and body THE TIME to relax SO THAT you can enjoy the SIMPLE THINGS, including REST. I enjoyed that lesson as a whole. I will take that lesson with me on my next vacation (or staycation). As always, thank you Laurie for your candor and for sharing your own lessons with others so that we too can benefit.

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Reply from Laurie:
Yes, Sandi! Love how you pulled all those lessons together!
Andrea C.
August 10, 2023

Great information and reminders

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Reply from Laurie:
Thank you, Andrea!
Arlene Byrd
August 10, 2023

Laurie, Thank you for sharing your trip and these nuggets. The lessons that resonate most with me are it does take time to relax and getting proper rest. When you devote 15 plus hours of your day for work, taking care of home and others; the 6-7 hours you lay down does not cut it! For me during this time I'm trying to unwind and find myself thinking fighting not to think about what I have to do tomorrow. Even after I create a to do list for the next day...I find things I need to add. Taking a day off here and there doesn't cut it as well because of all the plans you have for that day. I try to make sure my Mental Health Days remains just that.... time for me to laugh, cry, scream.... whatever I need to release the cares and stress!

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Reply from Laurie:
Yes, Arlene! We spend so much of our time working and often taking care of others, that it can feel challenging to even find time to unwind and rest. I am working on building more margin into my schedule and blocking time off next year for some extra days off to really disconnect and relax.
Stephen Wallace
August 10, 2023

Really enjoyed the article... and all very true!

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Reply from Laurie:
Tracey
August 10, 2023

Since I was already well aware of #1 (I'm in the same boat with taking a long time to relax), I think I'm resonating most with #3. I'm learning to prioritize sleep / rest and it's been wonderful. Love that you said "I love sleep.". :)

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Reply from Laurie:
Yes, Tracey, I love my sleep and I prioritize it! I feel a huge difference in my energy and focus if I lose even one hour of sleep. I know a lot of people struggle to get good rest, and for some it is not easy.
Anonymous
July 28, 2023

Welcome back from vacation. Well deserve! Action is the key to success. Shoulder to shoulder, coaching and delegating task to help other employees grow are very important. It is a sacrifice that one must do. Forget about yourself and be with your team day in and out to help them grow, is not always easy. On the long run, your team is stronger, and you can depend on them for the success of the organization. Thank you so much!

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Reply from Laurie:
Absolutely agree--action is important for any success. And as a leader, we have to take action--connect with our team, make time for coaching, and showing appreciation. Thanks for your comments!
Sandra
July 26, 2023

So many great tips here, thank you!

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Reply from Laurie:
Thanks so much, Sandra!
Tracey
July 14, 2023

I am so impressed you're able to disconnect and these are great tips I'll be sure to try on my next trip!

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Reply from Laurie:
Let me know how it goes, Tracey! :-)
Becca Levian
July 14, 2023

Such a great post - so inspiring!

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Reply from Laurie:
Thank you, Becca!