We forget the importance of saying “thank you”. Yet, it’s one of the first few things we learn as kids.

This was last month. I attended the annual Achievers conference ACE 2017 in New Orleans, and these words came from the General Motors VP for North America. He was sharing how recognition kept his teams engaged, at a time where the giant GM had to pivot in order to cope with massive changes in the car market.

Think about it. A polite “yeah, thank you mate” is the norm for any healthy relationship. But do we really show gratitude at work in any form? Do we stop for one minute and put our heart into the way we say thanks? Do we thank others enough?

Everyone, at any level, craves recognition. And expressing gratitude at work is the perfect place to respond in a simple way.


Gratitude at work: does it work?


The modern way to express gratitude at work is through an employee recognition program. In essence, it’s a tech-infused way (understand, “app”) to publicly say thanks to the people who went above and beyond standard expectations.


The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciate - Dalai Lama


Gratitude at work is good for business. At the conference opening keynote, Achievers’ close partners BlackHawk unveiled that an increase in 1% in employee engagement resulted in +6% in sales growth.

So what makes recognition so impactful? Gratitude at work creates a positive culture where appreciation is valued. This improves self-esteem and results in better confidence across teams. When people feel appreciated, you get more chances to make them happy at work. Productivity and direct financial results follow.


Why saying “thank you” isn’t good enough


A quick “thanks” dropped on the go with no eye contact will never be taken as genuine gratitude. It’s a basic sign of politeness.



In reality, gratitude goes deeper than that. By definition, gratitude is “readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness”.

To return kindness implies a little more than a quick polite statement. And that’s the bit most of us forget in our fast-paced lives. Expressing gratitude at work is a simple yet efficient way to strengthen our emotional connection with the people we are interacting with. We get the emotional benefits because it gets into our inner drive to bond.



Recognition provides a way to appreciate someone who made a difference in your day, and helps to celebrate success. But it can only work if it’s done honestly and personally.


How to express genuine gratitude at work?


We live in a highly personal society. With social media at our fingertips, we can share anything that impacts us directly (hoping that it will resonate with others).


Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices - Robert Braathe


To express gratitude at work, go deeper than the usual politeness formula. Be specific and personal, and say thanks with kindness and authenticity.

  • If possible, have a face to face conversation, where you can tap into non verbal communication such as eye contact and body language.
  • If you can say exactly what you are grateful for, and how it made a difference for you, then you’re stepping into real gratitude
  • If you can add a random act of kindness such as “let me take you for coffee”, even better.

The beauty of gratitude at work lies in its simplicity. A simple chat in a personal tone, where someone shares how you made them feel, can lift anyone’s spirits up. So do it more often!


Expressing gratitude at work is part of an effort to build a culture of openness, where cooperation and helping one another are highly valued. Still, we often forget to take the time to give a proper, meaningful thanks to the ones who matter.

Many leaders make the mistake of “saying thanks” when an annual review comes. Maybe they hope that connecting recognition to a possible pay increase or bonus will make it more impactful?

But I doubt it.

The generation that makes up most of our workforce craves instant feedback rather than financial rewards. And a mindful response is to make them feel valued by regularly acknowledging their efforts. But if you feel like taking the next step and using a proper employee recognition tool, then check out what the Achievers solution has to offer.