How “Thank you!” Makes ALL the Difference

As the world has come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the trend of turnovers has shifted to what is being called the “big stay”. Retention is now a priority for most employers and this change is one factor keeping salaries higher than pre-pandemic averages. However, higher salaries aren’t the only incentive employees are looking for in this new environment. Beyond that, there is a strong desire for recognition and positive feedback. This recognition doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be a simple “Thank you!” but the importance of this recognition is high.

New research shows a strong connection between a positive workplace culture and employee recognition. In fact, employees who agree with this connection are 3.7 times more likely to be engaged at work and far less likely to experience burnout at work. This is a significant difference, especially in the post-pandemic world, where most companies are focused on boosting productivity.

This new research draws a clear line in the development of culture within a company. Leaders have two choices; intentionally invest in the culture of your company or allow the culture to be defined for you. Engaged workers will often use words such as “caring”, “innovative”, and “inclusive” to define their workplace culture. On the other side, disengaged employees often describe their workplace culture as “toxic”, “stressful”, and “disorganized”.

It is the responsibility of leaders to intentionally develop the culture of their workplace and choose what environment they want associated with their companies. A positive workplace culture does more than improve employee satisfaction; it helps to ensure the company will live long into the future. It’s also critical that leaders align recognition efforts with the company’s short and long term goals. In short; it would be wise for leaders to praise employees that are driving the work that will bring the company into the future.

Employee recognition comes in many forms and most companies have formal programs in place that reward employees for specific achievements. However, research shows that formal programs aren’t enough. Employees want more. Simple forms of recognition, even in casual conversations from leaders, CEOs, and managers, go a long way to improving the culture in the workplace. Just a few encouraging words make a big difference.

Research shows that just under 80% of US workers who were surveyed by the career-services firm Zety agreed to feeling taken advantage of by their manager. Only 23% said they feel appreciated and that they receive enough praise. It doesn’t need to be a praise fest though! Most employees said they would prefer simple, positive feedback and an acknowledgement of their work. It’s important not to underestimate the importance of giving honest, genuine praise for small accomplishments. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, everyone can use a positive word each day and small pieces of praise go a long way.

Praise is a key way that leaders can communicate goals and drive their companies into the future. No piece of recognition is too small. Even if a formal program is in place, take the time to notice the little things and acknowledge the accomplishments of your coworkers and staff. Instilling this habit in a company will intentionally establish a positive culture and create an environment that each person, employee, and employer will enjoy in the workplace.


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