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Why a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way in employee engagement

There are countless articles dedicated to employee engagement and for good reason. Most of the time, disengaged employees are either looking for another job opportunity and/or have mentally quit their current job.

And while some of the employee engagement jargon may not immediately draw your attention, the idea that some of your employees may be looking to jump ship should be a concern.

About half of U.S. employees are actively eyeing the exits, or have a less than favorable opinion of their employers, according to Mercer, an outplacement and consulting firm.

While there is no quick fix to getting those disconnected employees completely engaged with the company, there is a simple way to start the path toward it. As the manager, you need to recognize the good performance of your direct reports.

I know, it seems like such an easy concept – employees will be more engaged with their company if they receive some recognition.

Let’s compare this to whenever your wife or husband spends a significant amount of time preparing dinner for you and the family. You are tired from a long day of work and are really just happy to eat anything, so it doesn’t even cross your mind to say thank you or help with the dishes. Well, I’m sure you know that behavior never goes over well and it could result in an argument. However, if you showed gratitude toward your spouse for making the meal, they will feel appreciated and you will have a much happier household.

It really isn’t that much different when it comes to recognizing the hard work of your employees.

Everyone wants to feel respected. No one wants to work day-in and day-out and never hear appreciation for their work. After a while they may even wonder if anyone would notice if they left the company.

Providing recognition and rewards to individuals who contribute to the successful efforts of the work group is an important managerial skill that re-energizes the group and increases motivation. Effective managers are generous with praise and celebrate individual and group successes.

If it’s been a while since you’ve given praise to your employees, you may be perceived as being stingy with praise or unable to celebrate individual or group successes. This will usually have a negative impact on the levels of general morale and commitment in the work group.

Here are some development tips to keep in mind:

  • Regularly thank your team members for their input and contributions to the work.
  • When recognizing team members, make the recognition appropriate to the person. Not all team members appreciate public recognition.
  • Expand your field of recognition to include quiet, low-visibility, or geographically distant contributors.
  • Thank people privately, as well as publicly, for jobs well done. A special handwritten note will be greatly appreciated.
  • Frequently offer genuine compliments to others regarding their effective job performance.
  • Compliment coworkers on their success. Don’t forget about rewarding small achievements. Set a daily goal to say positive things.

Saying ‘thank you’ to your employees may not change their lives, but it could make them feel better about their role at the company, and that is the first step toward employee engagement.

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