Two words significantly impact employee performance and satisfaction: thank you.
If you’re a team leader or role model within the company, the best way to motivate your team members to care about the company’s overall objective is to acknowledge their excellent work.
Showing gratitude to your team members isn’t everything — you still have to support strong work ethics, work toward company milestones, and build efficient communication between an entire team. But learning to appreciate your team often and out loud will incentivize them to reach new heights.
We’ll discuss the importance of expressing thanks at work and the connection between appreciation and high-quality work. We’ll also explore creative ways to show thanks to individual coworkers or the whole team with examples to get you started.
Gratitude means feeling thankful for someone or something. Experiencing gratitude improves well-being and makes us feel more positive about our lives, and expressing our appreciation makes others feel better about themselves. This only continues the good vibes, as we feel good about making others feel good.
When we express gratitude in a group setting, like expressing our appreciation to team members, these benefits are enjoyed by all. Employees feel valued for their hard work and encouraged to keep performance levels high. That’s why it’s important to hone our communication skills so we feel comfortable enough to express our appreciation.
The importance of gratitude in the workplace
In 2021, 47.8 million American workers voluntarily left their jobs, an unprecedented uptick known as The Great Resignation.
The early hypotheses suggested workers were suffering from burnout and mental fatigue post-pandemic. But subsequent studies show a more significant need for change within corporate culture that has little to do with money. Instead, a lack of engagement because of poor attention to worker well-being is a more significant motivator for switching jobs than income.
Workers who feel connected with and cared for by their boss require at least a 20% pay raise to consider switching jobs, while those who feel disengaged from their managers need next to nothing.
Employees who feel unappreciated are also more likely to suffer from burnout, which could have devastating effects on the business’s overall success. ResearchGate found that 49% of unappreciated workers felt they couldn’t continue to perform their job responsibilities, and 48% said they no longer cared about doing their work well. These stats compare to 17% and 16% for workers that felt appreciated, respectively.
This problem could create a snowball effect: as new workers join a team of unmotivated team members, they’ll feel more compelled to quickly jump ship and look for a better fit.
Benefits of showing gratitude in the workplace
Appreciating employees increases the chances they’ll stick around and deliver great work. Here are a few more benefits of showing gratitude to your teams:
- Boosts morale: Validation makes people happy. When you develop a practice of recognizing people’s work, whether for general outstanding performance or a more specific recent success, it encourages them to do a good job in the future. People who feel appreciated at work are also more likely to develop better relationships with their colleagues and the organization.
- Tracks progress: Giving appreciation means you’re paying attention to how a team or employee is performing. This attention will help you recognize when individuals are underperforming and might need more incentives to improve. It also means you’ll know when someone’s excelling and can give them the recognition — and raise — they deserve.
- Promotes a positive work environment: A positive attitude breeds more positive attitudes. Teams with a higher ratio of positive than negative interactions perform better and are more productive. Positivity also pushes us to be more confident, creative, collaborative, and empathetic, all qualities that improve the overall well-being of a team.
- Saves money: The bottom line is fundamental for any business, and nurturing employee engagement is one way to retain employees. The cost of constantly hiring and training new workers is an enormous financial burden that could make or break a company.
The best way to thank your team
You can’t go wrong when giving thanks, but some methods for appreciating a team work better than others, depending on the situation.
Here are three great ways to appreciate a team:
- Write a letter: While thank you letters aren’t as common as they used to be, many workers say a handwritten “Thank you” note is their favorite appreciation method. It demonstrates you took time out of your schedule to do something thoughtful. You’re also giving them something tangible to look at when experiencing imposter syndrome or feeling down.
A handwritten letter can take on numerous forms, like a special card with an appreciation quote for a work anniversary or a piece of company letterhead just to say thanks for being on the team. While it might be challenging to find the right words, keep it short, sweet, and from the heart and the message will deliver effectively.
- Send an email: Thank you emails are a quick, easy way to pop into your employees’ inboxes and show appreciation. This small gesture might be just what they need to power through a project.
- Say it in person: People value verbal affirmation because it leaves room for them to ask questions about performance and give support in return. They’ll also be able to read your body language to further appreciate the sincerity of your gratitude.
Team “Thank you” examples
We want your team to receive your appreciation as soon as possible, so here are a few templates to get you started:
Dear [team member],
On behalf of everyone at [company name], I’d like to thank you for your efforts these last five years. Your work ethic is admirable and I appreciate how you inspire those around you. Our organization wouldn’t be where it is today without you.
Leaders or managers wanting to send to their entire team praise can keep it generic but touching by expressing pride and gratitude for everyone’s success.
We’re wrapping up Q2 and I’m in awe of the incredible work you’re all doing. It gives me so much pride to be leading this team. Everyone adds a unique perspective that makes this group so successful.
Thank you [team],
To praise teams going above and beyond, especially on high-stress or long-term projects, send an email acknowledging their valuable contributions to this specific thing.
Dear [team member],
I wanted to thank you for all the extra time you’ve put into this quarter’s projects. You went the extra mile and [name the goal achieved]. I’m so happy to have you on our team. Keep up the excellent work.
After a successful quarter, it’s good to let employees know you’re happy to be part of their team — and let them know they’ve exceeded expectations.
Kudos to everyone on the Q4 sales. You all hit it out of the park this quarter. Thank you [team] for all your hard work and attention to detail. I’m proud to work alongside such excellent people.
Congratulations and thank you,
“Hey [name of employee]. You’ve been with us for a few months now, and I want you to know how much I value your commitment to your work and this team. You set an incredible example for everyone around you and our team wouldn’t be the same without you.”
Other ways to show gratitude
Showing your appreciation in more creative, non-traditional ways embeds the practice of appreciation and positivity into the company culture.
Here are three alternative ways to appreciate your employees:
1. Take them on a field trip
A great way to encourage stronger teamwork is with non-work-related team-building activities outside the office. This helps employees build stronger bonds, foster empathy, and enjoy more effective collaboration. Consider taking the team out for a meal or doing something interactive like a softball game or escape room.
2. Offer employee awards
Awards are a fun way to motivate people to come together or incentivize outstanding work performance. Offer year-end awards to the most hard-working employees and disperse fun reward-based challenges throughout the year like “Best Halloween Costume.”
If awards don’t feel suitable for your company culture, put together a recognition program on your social media to regularly highlight workers for different accomplishments or work anniversaries.
Give them a gift basket
Whether the team reached a challenging goal, an employee achieved a significant milestone, or you just want to show appreciation, gift baskets fit the bill. There’s a basket for every preference and you can gift them anonymously if you like, placing one on their desk before they arrive.
Gratitude takes practice
Feeling grateful and expressing it is a life skill, and like every other skill, it takes practice. Consider keeping a gratitude journal and writing down five life-related and five work-related things you’re thankful for every morning. Soon, this practice will make it easier to notice and appreciate your team — and things in every area of your life.
This appreciation practice will also make it easier to think positively about yourself. You’ll notice when team members are doing great work, or a family member does something you’re thankful for, but you’ll also see things you appreciate about yourself. Gratitude is a win-win for all.