Double Employee Engagement: Give Everyone the Power of Thanks

Recognize This! – Recognizing others is as powerful as being recognized yourself.

I write fairly regularly about why recognizing others is important – it reinforces what matters most; it encourages the recipient to repeat desired behaviors; it’s proven to increase productivity, performance, engagement and retention. Too often, however, I’m asked, “Isn’t recognition from managers more important? Isn’t that where we should focus our efforts – training our managers to be better about giving recognition?”

Yes, of course, receiving recognition from the person who directly managers your work is important. But it’s just as valuable and effective to receive recognition from your peers. (For more this, read this post.) Today, however, I want to focus your attention on the impact of recognition on the giver of recognition.

In a recent blog post, China Gorman, CEO Great Place to Work, pointed out a subtle yet very important finding in our Summer 2013 Workforce Mood Tracker survey of employee attitudes at work. She commented (emphasis mine):

“These statistics reinforce the value and importance of recognizing employees, but what I found particularly interesting and a less obvious benefit of employee recognition was how the ability to give vs. receive recognition affected employees. The study found that employees who are empowered to recognize other employees at their organizations were twice as likely to identify themselves as highly engaged; highlighting that value should be placed on allowing employees to give recognition as much as it is placed on making sure employees receive recognition.”

But this effort can be an uphill battle, especially in the workplace. Looking at when and where people are more likely to thank others (in their personal and professional lives), the Greater Good Gratitude Project found, “People were least likely to express gratitude in workplaces…despite wishing to be thanked more often themselves at work.”

Why is this? Yes, people emulate the behavior of their leaders (which is why manager training on good recognition practices is important). But people also do not feel empowered to recognize others themselves, either. No manager, no matter how effective or how aware of the activity amongst his or her team, can see all the good happening around them every day. Empower everyone to recognize excellence among their colleagues and reap even greater benefits of increased engagement.

Do you express gratitude to others at work? How does that impact your own commitment to your work, your team and your organization?

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

One Response

  1. I agree, giving “Thanks” can truly empower people. At Hppy (, we discovered that colleagues were one of the top 3 happiness drivers in the workplace.

    Having coworkers say “Thank you” and being encouraged to appreciate others made people more engaged and happier.

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