Gratitude is inextricable linked with Thanksgiving.
A recent study by Bersin & Associates underscores the bottom-line implications of saying thank you in the workplace. It reveals that companies that “excel at employee recognition” are 12 times more likely to enjoy strong business results. If you aren’t already a believer in the thank you economy, just think about what it can mean to your business if you embrace the power of gratitude.
My own academic research on trust has revealed not only that gratitude makes a difference but that people don’t require big gestures, just heartfelt ones. Simple but genuine thank-yous or small, handwritten notes of appreciation can mean the world to people. So if it’s so easy, why don’t we do it more often?
When it comes to business, I think we fall into the trap of not seeing people when we work with them. We take them for granted and just assume they don’t need a show of gratitude. This oversight can have huge consequences, particularly if you’re the boss.
For instance, my friend Tony completed a project that saved his company tens of thousands of dollars a month. It also cut a process that used to take almost two days down to three hours. Considering the bottom-line significance of Tony’s project, you can imagine his confusion when nothing was said after its successful implementation. At the first staff meeting afterward, his manager quietly slid him a box that held a standard item the company gave to recognize a job well done. But no one said anything, then or later.
Tony told me that as little as a handshake, a word of appreciation in private, or a pair of movie tickets would have meant more. But the silence hurt. He responded by leaving the company and starting his own successful business. I doubt that many organizations can afford to lose their Tonys simply because they’ve fostered a culture of silence instead of gratitude.
On a personal level, what are the qualities that attract you to another person? When I ask this question during speaking sessions, I often hear words like charisma, kindness, or physical appearance. The audience is usually surprised when I tell them that the most magnetic trait is not charisma or even a smile but gratitude. In fact, if you think about it, chances are good that the people you like and respect the most—both personally and professionally—have no problem showing their appreciation.
In business we’re drawn to people who acknowledge our contributions. When those people hold leadership positions, you can see the trickle-down effect on the company as a whole—all the way down to customers. When managers and employees know that company leaders value gratitude, those who serve customers on the front line show appreciation more readily. And we know that the customer who feels appreciated won’t hesitate to return.