Gratitude is a Smart Business Strategy

By Ann Elliott

morning sunrise
People who do not feel appreciated in the workplace are less engaged in the work they are doing. People at all levels in the organization make contributions to the goals of the organization, not only the deal makers, but the people working behind the scenes such as the cleaning crew and the IT professionals. A smart business strategy is to express gratitude.morning sunrise Writing in the Harvard Business Review Blog (January 23, 2012), Tony Schwartz cites a worldwide survey conducted by Towers Watson. The survey states, “The single biggest driver of engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing.” Would it surprise you to learn that less than 40% of workers feel engaged? This indicates that 60% of workers do not feel engaged. Over one half the workforce does not feel appreciated. The shocking news is that people who feel unappreciated leave to work other places. The worse news is,  when they stay, they bring down morale in your business. 

What Causes Low Morale in the Workplace? 

It is easy to understand how this could happen. When managers have the attitude that a paycheck is appreciation enough, there is no need to do anything to express gratitude. Others believe their people already know the manager and the owners appreciate them. Why is it necessary to express it? For some, they do not know how to express heartfelt thanks for good work. They do not have the language or at least are not comfortable with the language. Work is about work and emotions have no place in business.

What Does a Workforce of Unengaged People Cost?

  1. Unengaged people come to work to do the very least to get paid 
  2. Giving extraordinary customer service is unimportant 
  3. People who feel unappreciated develop a negative attitude that is infectious
  4. Helping others on the team is not valued
  5. Innovation and solutions are not important
  6. Change is resisted and often sabotaged
  7. Hiring energetic people who are high performers is difficult
I remember how surprised I was to hear an employee say to me, “You never say ‘thank you’ for anything that I do.” I did not realize she felt unappreciated. Although it was a bit uncomfortable, I was glad to learn how she felt. It made such an impression on me that I cross-stitched these words to remind me. “Hearts, like doors, will open with ease to very, very little keys. Two of these are ‘Thank you’ and ‘If you please.’” I framed this and now see it daily.

How to Express Gratitude to Employees 

Make a small investment for a big return. If you value a team of engaged, high-performing players, use these simple steps to create to create a culture of gratitude:
  • Lead the way. 

Each day keep a log of 3 – 5 things for which you are grateful personally and professionally.
  • Start small. 

A simple, “Thank you,” or “I appreciate your efforts” can mean the world to someone.
  • Be specific.

Note specifically what you appreciate. This indicates that you are paying attention and understand the value.
  • Use creative approaches. 

If your business is large enough, go down a level or two to find something to appreciate. By enlisting the help of someone to inform you of what warrants appreciation, your cohort focuses on the positive, too. A double play.
  • Pay attention. 

Notice what is meaningful to other people. Would someone prefer a gift given in his honor to a charitable organization that supports a cause he believes in?
  • Make it authentic. 

Sincerity has a ring of truth to it. It is a powerful connector.

How to Express Gratitude to Customers 

It is obvious that your customers are important for a successful business. Without them there would be no business. How do you let your customers know you value them?

1. Customer appreciation event

Two examples I have attended include an oyster roast and open house with tasty food.

2. Corporate gifts

The sales team of one of my clients never calls on a customer without a gift. Pistachios is the gift of choice. Other ideas include a box of high-quality chocolate as a thank you that I receive every year.

3. Referrals

A new client shared her way of thanking you for a referral to new business. Her firm donates to the organization of choice of the person making the referral. A win/win idea with something in it for everyone.

4. Handwritten note

When I received my organic cotton sheets made in the USA, the team who made the sheets enclosed a thank you. They had personally signed the card.

5. Acknowledgement of a gift

For nonprofits, acknowledging receipt of a gift is not only important for the giver to know the organization received their donation but also for tax benefits. My recent experience demonstrates how important it is to appreciate customers and donors. I persuaded my Toastmasters club to donate $697 to a local organization who has a 12-month program to develop leaders in 9th and 10th graders. I personally hand delivered the check to the executive director. The organization cashed the check. No thank you or acknowledgment. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, a second organization donated approximately $300. No thank you or acknowledgment. Despite the excellent program and outstanding results, I doubt that I will support them in the future. Unappreciated customers and employees are hard to retain. Update: an acknowledgment of my contribution arrived hours before publication of this article. It’s important to promptly acknowledge a gift or a donor can draw an unfavorable conclusion.

Gratitude as a Business Strategy 

Appreciate your people for the unique value they bring to your business. When they feel appreciated, they are more likely to perform their best work in the service of your customers. Customers that feel appreciated enjoy doing business with you. It is more than a platitude. Gratitude is a smart business strategy.  What ways do you express gratitude to your team or to your customers? © 2013 Ann Elliott All Rights Reserved

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Ann Elliott

Ann Elliott, founder of The Berkana Company, excels at leadership strategy

An expert at helping business leaders enjoy more profits and improved productivity with less stress, she blends fun and excitement with executive coaching and training to yield results for her clients.

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