Berger Leadership Blog

Apr 29, 2022

Research shows that saying ‘Thank You’ goes a long way

As a leader, it’s not only gracious, but also necessary to regularly thank our employees regularly. In order to give those in our organizations the confidence and ability to understand the importance behind their work, we need to step up and show that we see them on a daily basis.

In a recent article from Harvard Business Review, Eric Anicich and Alice Lee highlight a recent Glassdoor Employee Appreciation Survey that found that 59 percent of employees have never had a boss who “truly appreciates” them, and 53 percent admitted they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation for their work. These results emphasize the importance behind showing frequent gratitude toward our employees, so they feel appreciated and know that their work – however big or small – is making a difference.

The article mainly focuses on a recently published paper by Anicich and Lee that examines the relationship between organizational power and gratitude. Specifically, does having power influence feelings and expressions of gratitude? And if so, why?

In one study, they measured the amount of gratitude higher- vs. lower-ranking authors expressed in the “acknowledgements” section of published articles; and found that higher-ranking authors actually thanked less people in their published articles vs. lower-ranked authors. The same went for high-power editors, or “administrators,” in the Wikipedia community vs non-admin editors.

Why is that? Why would someone with a higher level of notability and power cause them to show less gratitude toward others? The answer: these titles can cause elevated feelings of entitlement and reduced concerns about relationships with others. It’s the ego talking; so how do we move beyond our self-centered tendencies?

The authors offer some points of consideration for leaders to reflect upon, which include:

  • not underestimating the impact of expressing gratitude;
  • expressing gratitude remains even more important (and challenging) in the context of remote work;
  • cultivating an ecosystem of gratitude and leading by example; and
  • dialing down entitlement and dialing up perspective.

I highly recommend reading this article. At NAFCU, I like to take time out of my workday to thank those in the organization, but there’s always room for improvement. There’s never too much gratitude to go around!

About the Author