How Far Can a “Thank You” Really Go in the Workplace?

Ohana Editor Blog

Guest Post by Phillip Collingwood, Customer Success Specialist

Momma always said, “don’t forget your P’s and Q’s.” However, Momma never mentioned that those simple pleasantries could also be the difference between a successful employee and an unproductive one.

Francesca Gino, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, attempted to quantify the effects of “thank you” in a series of gratitude experiments. Professor Gino’s results indicated that a simple way to increase productivity is by recognizing employees in a personal manner. In one study, participants were asked to review a cover letter. Half were sent a simple “I have received your feedback” response, while the other half received that response along with “thank you so much! I am grateful.” Those two extra sentences resulted in the second half of participants being twice as likely to review an additional cover letter than those who received the basic response.

Professor Gino then went to an office of fundraisers for a university, whose job was to make calls asking for donations. The employees did not have sales incentives, just a fixed salary. The director of the office individually thanked half of the office, while ignoring the other half. With that interaction being the only difference between the two groups, the appreciated employees made 50% more calls than the ignored.

Sometimes, applying research into the workplace can be tough. In this instance, however, all it takes is saying two words more frequently. A simple “thank you” can make an employee feel appreciated, and those appreciated employees are far more likely to go above and beyond for a supervisor or colleague that recognizes their efforts.

There are plenty of ways to take appreciation to the next level, beyond a simple verbal “thanks”. One of our favorites is to let employees know you like them a “latte” with a Starbucks gift card and a reusable mug. While the Starbucks gift card may only cover one outing, the mug will remind employees that they are appreciated each time they use it.

Here at Ohana, we love seeing our clients’ employee recognition strategies. A noteworthy take away is that appreciation does not have to come from your supervisor. Peer-to-peer recognition can be just as powerful. The High Five feature is our app is an extremely popular way to give kudos and appreciation at every level. Better yet, we’ve seen that the more users see High Fives posts, the more likely they are to give one themselves.

This holiday season, and the rest of the year, remember what Momma said about remembering your “P’s and Q’s”. It just might result in other P’s and Q’s—profits made and quotas hit.