Two Simple Words

By Julia Capeloto

thank you words written on the sand of the beach

Two simple words make a big difference — “thank you.”

I was sitting in the nail salon last weekend, when I overheard two gals talking. One was telling the other that she just quit her job because she didn’t feel valued at work and no one on her team, including her manager, ever said “thank you.”

It got me thinking…

How often do I say “thank you” to colleagues?

How often do people tell me “thank you” while at work?

How often do you say “thank you?”

I did a little research, and according to The Wall Street Journal, the workplace ranks dead last among places people express gratitude, with only 10% of adults saying “thank you” to a colleague every day. Yikes.

Why does this happen? Are we too busy to stop and acknowledge hard work? Do we take people for granted on our team?

Psychologists have long argued that the pursuit of social worth—a sense of being valued by others—is a fundamental human motivation. In a series of experiments, researchers confirmed that thanking people for their efforts contributes to people’s sense that they are valuable team members, and people are therefore more willing to provide future contributions to help and benefit the group.

In essence, encouraging prosocial behavior, promotes cooperation, which can easily be applied to life at work. Saying a sincere “thank you” benefits you and the recipient. Those two simple words helps people to know that people in the office are aware of their work, and that their work has brought value to the company.

There is no financial cost to saying “thank you,” but not saying it could cost you money if people leave. Employees who feel appreciated are more productive and loyal. In addition, creating a culture of kindness helps to maintain workers’ emotional health and can lower stress at work.

I’m not trying to suggest that we say “thank you” all the time. But if you have an employee who you value, acknowledge their efforts when they are working hard, especially if your company is going through a transitional period. And make sure to be specific with what you are thanking someone for, letting the person know the impact of his or her contributions. It might just make the difference between someone feeling committed to their job, and someone with one foot out the door.