Empowering Employees through Workplace Appreciation and Gratitude

Do you remember how you felt immediately after being recognized at your job? From a simple “thank you” in passing, to attending the annual office party to celebrate workplace accomplishments, everyone enjoys being appreciated.

A 2012 survey of 1,714 adults by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that1:

  • When people were asked if they felt motivated to do their best
    • Of respondents who DO feel valued, 93% said YES
    • Of respondents who DO NOT feel valued, 33% said YES
  • 21% of employees who feel valued intend to look for a new job in the next year, versus 50% of those who do not feel valued
  • Workplace factors attributed to feeling undervalued at work included having fewer opportunities for involvement in decision making, flexible work arrangements, monetary compensation and non-monetary rewards

The benefits of practicing employee appreciation and gratitude include increased optimism and productivity, as well as improved health2. Showing gratitude in the workplace can also help improve the bottom line!

The power of gratitude was highlighted by a study at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania3. The researchers randomly divided university fundraisers into two groups. One group solicited alumni donations without receiving a moment of appreciation or gratitude. The second group received a pep talk from their director, who expressed how grateful she was for their efforts. Those who received the message of gratitude made 50% more donation calls than those who did not.

From a simple “thank you” in a meeting, to an organizational-wide policy change, there are a range of ways to practice employee appreciation and gratitude at your worksite4:

  • Be specific when praising employees. This adds context, meaning, and motivates the employee further.
    • Instead of “Great work,” you can say “I really appreciated your ability to facilitate the discussion”
  • Encourage and provide opportunities to grow
    • Seminars on topics such as financial wellness, or opportunities to receive reimbursement for pursuing higher education, shows employees that you care about their personal growth
  • Be transparent and involve employees in decision making
    • Asking for employee input shows that you trust and value your employees
  • Provide a platform
    • Whether it is a meeting, anonymous poll or an informal luncheon, provide employees opportunities to share their thoughts, experiences, and ideas

By using these examples, and even developing your own ways to show employee gratitude, you can help create a unified work environment that your worksite and its employees can benefit from. In February of 2016, six companies received APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award for supporting a healthy work environment within their respective organizations5. These organizations include Certified Angus Beef and Passport Health Plan.


[1] American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2012/03/well-being.aspx
[2] The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-mosley/the-business-value-of-gra_b_8640996.html
[3] Graziadio Business Review https://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2010/08/gratitude-at-work/
[4] Business News Daily http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8152-employee-appreciation-tips.html
[5] American Psychological Association Recognizes Six Organizations for Healthy Workplace Practices http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/02/healthy-workplace-practices.aspx