Showing Appreciation at the Office? No, Thanks

November 26th, 2015

Expecting a big thank-you at work this week? Don't hold your breath recommends Sue Shellenbarger at the​ Wall Street Journal​​.

According to a survey of 2,007 people for the John Templeton Foundation, only 10% of adults say thanks to a colleague every day, while just 7% express gratitude daily to a boss, and only 40% express gratitude to their colleagues frequently.

Shellenbargar writes, "The workplace ranks dead last among the places people express gratitude, from homes and neighborhoods to places of worship."   

Spouses, partners, children, parents, friends and mere acquaintances are up to four times more likely to get a thank-you, participants said. Even a salesperson or mail carrier usually rates better, says Janice Kaplan of New York, an author and editor who oversaw the survey.​

Jack Welch, former General Electric chief executive, says that if you don't thank employees, "you don't have a culture. You are just a bunch of bricks and mortar."

Even though research suggests that employees who feel appreciated are more productive and loyal, that message seems to have missed many of us.

Here are some reasons Shellenbarger suggests that make the workplace a "No-Thanks Zone."​

  • Worry that colleagues will take advantage of them if they express gratitude
  • The assumption among managers that setting tough goals and pushing people is the only way to improve productivity
  • The attitude, "No one thanks me, so why should I coddle others?"
  • Employee will get a big head
  • Plain ingratitude for their colleagues
  • Awkward feelings about saying thanks
  • Some people don't need as much thanks and think everyone else is just like them
  • Fear of appearing insincere

However awkward or unnecessary it might feel, gratitude is the logical response of a person captivated by the grace God demonstrated toward us in Jesus. That's why Paul reminds us...

Be joyful always; pray continually; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  (2 Corinthians 9:11)

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)

Failure to give thanks is not just bad leadership. It doesn't fit who we really are in Christ.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:21) 

Just say, "Thanks."

Take a few minutes and think of one person you are thankful for in your workplace. Then write them a note, via email if necessary but better yet, handwritten on nice stationery. Now repeat.