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Beyond 'thank you': 4 ways to express your gratitude

Published Date:

By Susan Hingle, MD, MACP, FRCP, FAMWA

Nationally 52% of workers feel completely satisfied with the recognition they receive for the work they do. At SIU, on our recent employee engagement survey, we found that only 18% of us feel this way. The good news is that we are improving, yet we still have a lot of opportunity to grow in this area. I personally think we are up to this important challenge!

Here are a few suggestions that might help us better show others how much we appreciate them and their contributions to our mission.

One of our great strengths here is our diversity. Sean Covey said that “a fruit salad is delicious because each individual fruit maintains its own unique flavors.” Similarly, we are best when we respect and celebrate everyone’s individuality. We need to remember is that not everyone feels appreciated in the same ways. One size does not fit all. While everyone likes to be praised, not everyone likes to be praised with words. Words are the most commonly used language of appreciation, yet over half of employees wish for appreciation to be shown through different means.

Also remember that appreciation is not simply a “top-down” process. It is something for all of us to engage in doing. Many people already feel overwhelmed with their responsibilities and sometimes react negatively when the concept of asking them to do “one more thing” is raised.  Relax. Showing appreciation to team members is a shared opportunity. Research shows that those who routinely express gratitude are happier and healthier.

Appreciation is most impactful when delivered personally and authentically.

Some different ways that you can show appreciation include:

  1. Oral and/or written words of affirmation
    • Remember to be specific
    • Find out if your colleagues prefer written and/or spoken affirmations
  2. Sharing time together
    • Get to know each other on a personal level. This can happen in daily huddles, meetings, by stopping by and checking in with each other, or developing formal mentoring relationships
    • Consider getting together outside of work hours. Who doesn’t like a good meal or a fun special event? The options are endless.
  3. Acts of service
    • Help out when you know someone is swamped and stressed.
    • Offer to do the things no one wants to do.
    • Pick up lunch for a busy co-worker
  4. Celebrate milestones by gathering your team for a celebration, either informally by simply gathering as a group, or formally with an event like dinner. Take time to recognize each person’s contributions and how collectively the team achieved success. Don’t forget to highlight impact their work had on SIU’s mission.
    • Celebrate individual milestones like graduations, etc.
    • Celebrate birthdays too

Everyone want to feel valued. Learn how your colleagues want to be appreciated. Once you know what your teammates prefer, a little appreciation goes a long way to encourage those around you. Voltaire said “appreciation is a wonderful thing; it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” And don’t forget that “gratitude is the healthiest of all emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to be grateful for.” (Zig Ziglar)

Together we can learn and grow and help each other and SIU reach our full potential.

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