Employee Engagement and Praise
The power of ‘thank you’ and the danger of unqualified recognition
When linked to employee engagement, ‘thank you’ is a very powerful phrase. However, used without qualification, sometimes it can do more harm than good.
Imagine that a group of colleagues are sitting in a meeting, with their manager delivering a presentation on the latest line of products. One staff member is particularly engaged with the subject, giving verbal feedback, and making notes. However, some of the other workers are paying no attention. At the end of the session, the manager thanks everyone for attending.
Although that might seem like a natural occurrence, already the seeds of disengagement could have been sown. That one member of staff received the same amount of thanks as everyone else, despite some of the workforce not making the effort. He or she might feel slightly peeved at this, and rightly so. Not only that, but the distracted employees might assume that management didn’t notice, or didn’t care, that they weren’t paying attention. So it’s possible they might repeat that negative behaviour.
Looking at this objectively, it would have been better from an engagement perspective if the manager hadn’t said ‘thank you’ at all. Once those seeds of disengagement have been sown and taken root, it’s much harder to weed out.
Consider your use of the phrase ‘thank you’. Not only will it start to lose its power if used too often, but it needs to be qualified so that the recipient knows exactly what you are praising them for. If you eliminate any confusion, that person is recognised for their specific achievements and the behaviour is more likely to occur again. Be especially cautious of thanking a group of employees, not only for this reason but because the effects of recognition risk being diluted. If you wish to thank a number of employees, even for the same thing, going the extra mile to do it individually will have a far greater effect. And keep in mind that praise in person is far more powerful than an email.
‘Thank you’ can be a powerful tool in your employee engagement arsenal. Just like any tool however, it can do more damage than good if used without care and attention.
Bodet specialise in promoting employee engagement through Time and Attendance Systems, making it easy to implement flexible working and supporting communication, fairness, and wellbeing. Please contact us if you would like to see how our Time & Attendance Solutions can be tailored for the specific requirements of your organisation.