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The Simple Thing You Can Do to Make Your Employees Happy

The Simple Thing You Can Do to Make Your Employees Happy
Credit: Alex F./Shutterstock

While giving your employees more money will likely increase their motivation, the feeling is often fleeting. New research, however, finds that a simple "thank you" often has a much more lasting impact.

Among workers who have received a pay raise in the past, 40 percent said it only improved their motivation and feelings of appreciation for six months or less, while 30 percent said it boosted those feeling for less than a month, according to a study from The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated.

The study's authors said this is an indication that day-to-day acts of gratitude and appreciation in the workplace are much more important. The research discovered that 55 percent of employees said receiving a "thank you" from their direct manager gives them a great sense of satisfaction. This is nearly double the amount who said they get the same feeling from public recognition of a job well done, even if the recognition was tied to rewards such as a gift card or company award.

In addition, nearly 40 percent of workers said the first thing they would change if they could trade places with their bosses would be to say "thank you" more often.

Overall, receiving positive feedback from fellow employees at all levels gave the greatest sense of satisfaction, with 70 percent of employees saying it provides a boost. The study discovered that workers get just as much gratification when receiving positive reviews from their peers as they do from the boss. [What's Making Your Employees Unhappy (And What You Can Do About It )]

On the flip side, rude or mean-spirited communication is just as detrimental to feelings of appreciation when it comes from co-workers as when it comes from a direct manager, those surveyed said.

"Acknowledging employees' efforts motivates and inspires much more than many people realize," Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos, said in a statement."It's also easy to do and doesn't cost a thing."

Few things bring employees down more than not being recognized for their efforts. Nearly half of the employees surveyed said it's the main reason they don't feel appreciated at work. This was significantly more than the number who said the same about receiving criticism, having a heavy workload, having a poor work-life balance and someone taking credit for the work they did.

Leaving employees with a sense of not feeling valued will lead many to look for another job. Nearly 60 percent of workers who said they don't feel appreciated or only feel somewhat appreciated by their employers said they thought about searching for a new job in the past year. That's compared to just 11 percent of those who said they feel very respected.

"This employee appreciation study shows that all of us, from part-time workers to senior leaders, play a role in how much our co-workers feel appreciated at work," Maroney said. "Fostering a culture of appreciation could be the simple, secret ingredient to higher employee engagement."

The study was based on surveys of more than 850 U.S. employees.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.