Yikes! The workplace is the last place one should expect “thanks” according to research delivered in an article in The Wall Street Journal which mentions that:
Of all the places people express gratitude, the workplace is dead last… Only 40% express gratitude to their colleagues frequently. One reason is a widespread assumption among managers that setting tough goals and pushing people is the only way to improve productivity.
The workplace ranks dead last among the places people express gratitude, from homes and neighborhoods to places of worship. Only 10% of adults say thanks to a colleague every day, and just 7% express gratitude daily to a boss, according to a survey this year of 2,007 people for the John Templeton Foundation of West Conshohocken, PA…
[A president of a marketing firm notes,] “Business schools definitely do not focus on such things… [Others fear thanking employees fosters] a big head and an increased likelihood that they’ll want a raise.”
The good news is that it’s not always this way; that is, gratitude and reward and recognition are sometimes the rule rather than the exception! Below are two examples:
I received this article through an email chain (of recognitions) which began with a Master of Health Services and Leadership student thanking his professor “for a great class” and relaying that “It was neat to see how many of the things we’ve been talking about in class were covered in the article.” The professor’s email included the following recognition: “[a student] sent this to me as a follow-up to our conversation about being diligent in providing reward and recognition. You continue to have a profound influence on my teaching and for that I am so grateful.” Emailed recognitions continued.
In a panel of health system CEOs one of the CEOs shared about a beloved doctor at the end of his career who challenged his patient to “live” so that he may share a waltz with her on her next birthday. The CEO wrote a thank you note to the physician; the physician, moved by the note, visited the CEO’s office and let her know that in his entire career (over 30 years) he had never received a thank you note. The presentation created a powerful visualization for me of not only what it means to our students when we communicate that we care for them, but the importance of doing the same for our high achieving colleagues and partners.
The article suggests that “a big head” will result or that leaders fear colleagues “will take advantage of them” as reasons for not rewarding and recognizing individuals in the workplace. The author shares in the following video:
And yet we find that the most important thing a leader can do to impact employee engagement is to connect with his/her employees – help employees realize that they do worthwhile work, with a purpose, and make a difference – and that as a leader we recognize their contributions, reward them when applicable, and care about them as individuals.
Shellenbarger, Sue. (11.20.2012). Showing Appreciation at the Office? No, thanks. The Wall Street Journal. Available online here.
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