Showing Appreciation At Work

I was inspired by a recent Wall Street Journal article about the do’s and don’ts of showing gratitude in the workplace.

It’s no surprise, according to the article, that the workplace ranks dead last among places people express gratitude.

If you work in the media business, it isn’t uncommon for employers to skip the compliments for fear that employees will ask for a raise.

So, here’s how to turn bad gratitude into good:

  1. The employer who walks around at the same time once a week to thank everybody is not as effective has catching employees doing something right, great or promising in real time.  
  2. Offering praise with the intention of getting an employee to work late is self-defeating.  Gratitude works best when it comes with no strings attached and that means no strings.
  3. Avoid the word “but” when thanking someone.  If you say, “you did a great job, but”, you might as well not offer the appreciation.  Believe me, the “but” is the only word the intended recipient will hear.
  4. Waiting before acknowledging a good performance is like eating stale bread.  Serve the compliment when it is fresh.

Employees like to work at places where they are appreciated and as we have said in this space before, appreciation is the number one employee demand – not money or anything else.


A study of 815 managers by The Society for Human Resource Management reveals more than half of human resource managers say showing appreciation for workers reduces turnover and 49% believe it increases profit.

We may not be able to change someone else’s ability to appreciate the work of others but we are always in control of our willingness to begin and that makes us more powerful and kinder people.