‘Tis the season of giving thanks – don’t forget your colleagues.

Small acts of gratitude build connection, culture and employee retention.

‘Tis the season of giving thanks – don’t forget your colleagues.

Recently Sara Blakely, the chief executive officer and founder of shapewear company Spanx, made headlines when she gifted every single employee $10,000 and two first-class airplane tickets to anywhere in the world. This generous surprise for Spanx employees followed the announcement that investment firm Blackstone is buying a majority stake in company, and it was meant as a thank you to employees for their contribution to the company’s new $1.2 billion valuation. 

While grand gestures such as this make a big splash at that moment, as the adage goes, it is often the small things that make a big difference over time. 

Gratitude builds connection.

This is more than just conjecture or urban legend. Workhuman, a multinational software company that provides human capital management solutions, has made a business out of it. 

Co-Founder and CEO Eric Mosley spoke to Brené Brown on her Dare to Lead podcast and he called gratitude “the great connector.” 

“People want purpose, meaning and gratitude. Purpose is shared, meaning is personal, and gratitude is the great connector,” Eric said.

Small gestures reap big returns.

Interestingly, Workhuman has been able to bear this out with data. The company has amassed a database of 50 million moments of gratitude and recognition through their cloud-based products. Their internal analytics team has been able to track and measure the relationship between gratitude and retention.

Eric shares the data and analysis with Brené on the podcast:

“We've been blown away over the last few years at what we've been able to uncover. We've been able to link the amount of gratitude that somebody receives in a year with a propensity to leave the company. We know that even in high-tech Silicon Valley technology companies, all the way to oil and gas services industrial companies, once you get over five thank-you moments in a year, your propensity to leave goes from 15% all the way down to 7%. And if you can get 12 thank-you moments in a year, it goes all the way down to 2%.”

Thank-you moments are not the same as formal employee recognition programs. While those have benefit as well, informal peer-to-peer expressions of gratitude are highly effective at building human connection and reinforcing positive aspects of a company’s culture – two things that are of particularly high import as firms embrace hybrid work environments. 

Eric spoke about this specifically on the podcast. In reference to the mobile and hybrid workplaces in the wake of the COVOD-19 pandemic, Eric said, “Companies that have a deep gratitude culture, a peer-to-peer recognition culture, they can keep that human connection going.” Those that do not may struggle to keep employees feeling connected.

The why is clear. Here’s the how.

The benefits of peer-to-peer appreciation are well supported, but how can management teams help to foster a culture of gratitude? The Predictive Index, a talent optimization platform, offers these tips (read the full article from the Predictive Index here):

1. Make employee recognition programs peer-voted. Top-down acknowledgment is often tied to performance reviews and compensation. Peer recognition is a purer form of recognition for a job well done.

2. Encourage employees to shout out their peers. Whether through electronic platforms like Microsoft Teams or live in meetings, a simple shout-out goes a long way.

3. Leave appreciation notes on a colleague’s desk. A handwritten note on a card or on a post-it note will be saved and remembered.

4. Go the extra mile — or just a few extra feet. Offer help in ways big and small. Stay late to help a colleague on a critical project or lend a hand carrying a heavy load to a car. The gesture will never be forgotten.

5. Help employees foster friendships. Research by Gallup has repeatedly shown a link between having a best friend at work and employee satisfaction. Ask a colleague to coffee or lunch.

6. Make regular positive feedback the norm. If someone mentions great work by a colleague, pass that feedback along to the individual. 

As Eric Mosley of Workhuman proved, every word and act of gratitude counts.

In closing, we at TEN|10 Group would like to express our wholehearted thanks. We are full of gratitude for each other, for our clients and for our friends and family. We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.