Majority of workers feel engagement can be improved in just two words: “Thank you”

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shutterstock_120451444 has today revealed that more than half of employees (58 per cent) don’t get thanked enough at work, leaving most (54 per cent) feeling underappreciated and many (41 per cent) demotivated.

This is despite many bosses (41 per cent) acknowledging that there are not enough thanks in their workplace and that most (75 per cent) recognise that failing to say thank you has a negative impact on employee motivation.

The survey of 2,000 consumers and 500 employers uncovered a clear disconnect between what bosses believe they are doing and how employees perceive it, as most managers are aware that ‘thank you’ is an important phrase and are thankful for their staff (89 per cent).

It also shows just how much people value being thanked. On average, employees would want to be paid an extra £134 a month – or £1,608 a year – for never being thanked at work to compensate for the lack of appreciation.

Employees say they are most thankful for their colleagues and working relationships (34 per cent), followed closely by a good work/life balance (25 per cent). Salary came in a distant third (18 per cent). Respondents also reported being motived or inspired by a thank you (55 per cent) though 7 per cent did admit that being thanked publicly can make them feel a bit embarrassed.

Corinne Sweet, organisational behaviour psychologist, says: “Saying thank you is priceless at work.  A genuine display of appreciation is a powerful tool and one that bosses should use more often. We can see from this research that by doing so they would encourage a happier and more motivated staff.

“As Brits we can sometimes feel embarrassed about saying ‘well done’, or giving ‘positive feedback’, so it’s not surprising that 58 per cent of employees say people don’t say thank you enough at work. This is a clear call for bosses to be more engaged with their employees and let them know when they’ve done a good job.”

Despite its clear value, many bosses reported being in situations where it wasn’t possible to express their thanks. For some it was because they didn’t realise the significance until after the event (13 per cent), for others it was a fear of awkwardness (12 per cent) or the worry that it may embarrass the person (12 per cent).

Almost all employers (93 per cent) agreed that manners are a vital part of the working environment they try to create. However, this awareness doesn’t seem to translate to the wider workforce with just a quarter (25 per cent) of employees describing their boss as grateful for the work they do. More than a fifth (22 per cent) thought their boss ungrateful, rude, or lacking in manners.

Andrew Sumner, Managing Director of in the UK and Ireland, says: “There’s a definite disconnect here. Managers can see the value in saying thanks but may be struggling to communicate it in a clear way to their employees.

“Employers need to notice when their staff do a good job and then ensure they thank them effectively. It’s the type of small change that can have a big impact on the business.”

The North West appears to have the highest rate of thankless workplaces with 73 per cent in the region saying people don’t say thank you enough. While in London, less than half (49 per cent) reported feeling that their office wasn’t thankful enough.

The research was carried out as part of’s Thank You campaign which aims to help Briton’s thank to those people who have helped them in their career.

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6 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Employment is a two-way street, like any relationship. Both sides have to feel appreciated. So, if it is a good thing for employers to say “thank you” to their employees, then it follows that employees should also demonstrate their gratitude/loyalty to the people and organisations that give them opportunities in life.

  2. It’s obvious but true that staff like to be thanked – something we all need to remember. Does anyone have ideas about how staff can be thanked by organisations – other than the obvious pay rise? As the article shows, people aren’t just motivated by money but people always appreciate being appreciated!

  3. Rather taken-aback by comment of James A – suggest it’s far, far, more beneficial to employers that their employees feel appreciated and valued than vice versa – that it is *not* in any way necessarily a reciprocal or quid pro quo arrangement. If employers won’t or can’t make the first move in this regard, then they’ll get the standard of employees that they deserve.
    James’ attitude reminds me of a dinosaur of a senior manager who took great exception to a newly-started manager adding to the end of his appraisal the suggestion that ‘if it’s deserved, some praise for having done a good job now and again would help.’ The manager was enraged when I showed him this, in private, shouting to the effect that the manager would soon enough get his backside kicked by him if found not to be doing a good job, but dinosaurs aren’t usually safe to argue with, so I just smiled and said nothing.(the new manager had come from being employed by an American company, who, whatever their bad points, do tend far more readily to be prepared to acknowledge and thank employees who’ve done a good job.

  4. I definitely agreed on this, a simple ‘thank you’ can boost employees morale toward his or her work. They feel fulfilled and appreciated. Bosses should not be too reserve to express gratitude towards their employees.

  5. David B, I think you may have misinterpreted my comment. I absolutely believe in showing my appreciation for good work by praising employees and I regularly do so. However, they should not interpret warm and genuine appreciation as a soft ticket for complacency and a cushy existence. Hard work and high standards are still essential for any successful business (though fun is important too!). The right behaviours by employers should result in the right behaviours from employees, but there are – sadly – no guarantees that this will always be the case.

  6. Hi James

    Sorry if I have misinterpreted: however, your fears about being considered by employees to be ‘soft’ and that employees may be seeking ‘a cushy existence’ remain, to me at least, disquieting.

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