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  • Writer's pictureJenn Donahue

5 Ways to Give Gratitude to Your Team!

ways to give gratitude

If you are a leader in your field, it’s important to learn and apply leadership skills so that you can effectively (and authentically) lead your team to success.

As an engineer in business, expressing gratitude to your team can be hard. It’s a skill you have to learn because we weren’t taught it in school or technical training.

If you want to be an authentic leader in business, it’s essential to learn how to recognize your team members and express gratitude for their efforts and achievements.

Forbes says, “Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous.”

Regular recognition and expression of gratitude in the workplace fosters a culture of positivity, enhances overall mood, and is strongly correlated to positive performance and production.

As a leader, your goal is to learn how to effectively recognize and express gratitude in ways that feel genuine and are well received by our team members. The key is to express your thankfulness in the moment, as it’s happening. This way, people can directly see the positive outcomes of their performance.

If you are looking for inspiration on how you can better say, “Thank you” to your team members, keep reading for five ways you can thank your team.

1. Understand your team’s preferences

One of the best ways to recognize people is to actually care enough to get to know them.

Not only will this show that you value your employees as real human beings, but it will provide you with valuable insights into their hobbies, interests, and life outside of work so that you can say “thank you” in a way that feels good to them.

When you have a better sense of your team’s interests, you can create rewards, incentives, and team bonding experiences that are more personal and therefore more effective.

The key is to find the most authentic way to give the gift of “thank you.”

For example, if you discover that many of your employees are runners, you can sponsor a running club, create a support network for an upcoming event, and recognize individuals for their achievements and participation in the event.

Whether it’s an impromptu chess tournament, a Words with Friends league, or a day of outdoor activities, providing space for bonding is a powerful way to say thank you to your team for all their hard work.

Rather than treating our employees as robots who perform work tasks and log on and off at the end of the day, we can recognize and incentivize people as a whole.

Saying “thank you” in this way will contribute to more positive moods, decrease stress, and stimulate creative thinking skills that will benefit overall performance.

2. Personalized thank-you cards

In our current digital age, there’s nothing more authentic than the personal touch of things we create by hand. While you can still recognize your employees on social media platforms like your company’s Instagram or LinkedIn page, giving them something tangible is often much more appreciated and impactful.

Consider finding a stack of thank-you cards and envelopes on nice stationary and keep them at your desk. If you notice someone performing well, contributing to the overall success of the team, or going above and beyond, take a moment to write them a “thank you.” This expression of gratitude can go a long way (especially with the millennial employees) and will positively reinforce repeat behavior.

Remember, the more in the moment the better, so make your thank-you cards easily accessible so you can write your direct expression of gratitude quickly and conveniently.

This practice may be more complicated now that many of us are working remotely, but the value of personal handwriting is still very powerful, so consider either taking a picture of a handwritten note and posting it to your workspace or emailing it directly to the employee, or mailing out letters monthly.

If you can incorporate gratitude towards your team into your daily practice, you’ll really start to see a change in team morale!

3. Free food = happy people

It’s no secret that the way to the heart is through the belly. Providing delicious food is a great way to express gratitude for the whole team.

It can be as simple as providing high-quality coffee and a snack bar to keep your team fueled for projects, catering free lunches each month, or what I like to do sometimes… bring donuts for the team on Fridays! Be sure to let your team know that this is just one way their efforts are being recognized and appreciated.

Providing free food for your team saves them time and energy and allows the whole team to bond and connect over a shared meal. This can be great fuel for progress, inspiration, and innovation.

And if you really know your team, show them how much you care by providing different options for different diets and needs.

Expressing a “thank you” with free food can go a really long way!

4. Hang a “gratitude” board!

A break room gratitude board may seem like a small or silly gesture, but having that space for people to be seen and recognized by the whole team can be very impactful for morale and performance.

A good rule of thumb for leaders is to give feedback in private and to praise in public. A gratitude board is a great way to recognize individuals for their unique contributions, and to let it be seen by everyone in the common space.

Consider posting pictures of outstanding performers alongside their specific reflections of their performance. Make sure that this board gets updated regularly so that the team can look forward to seeing who is being recognized each week or month.

5. Lead by example and be yourself

As leaders, we teach others how to act when we lead by example. If a culture of gratitude is one you want to cultivate, it starts with you.

In this Forbes article, “How to Create a Culture of Gratitude in the Workplace,” co-founder and CEO of Lucidchart, Karl Sun, says, “A culture of gratitude starts from the top. If leadership takes the time to recognize the modest acts that can so easily go unnoticed throughout the company, it encourages others to do the same.”

So do your best to take off your camo and be vulnerable and authentic with your team. When you learn how to give and receive positive feedback, your team will take note and follow lead.

Give Gratitude Going Forward

Giving thanks isn’t just for Thanksgiving, it’s something we need to do regularly, openly and year-round. By giving unique and personalized expressions of gratitude, we encourage our team to perform well and continue growing, showing up and giving their best.

Tony Robbins says in this article, “Benefits of Gratitude for Business, “To practice gratitude authentically, you must remain honest about your feelings, allowing gratitude to emerge amid your circumstances and emotions.”

One of the best gifts we can give our employees is our genuine thankfulness for their contribution to our team, project, or goals.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to learn how to motivate people. By getting to know our teams and their preferences, giving thoughtful “thank you’s,” and leading by example are just a few ways to express gratitude to your team.

Saying “thank you” in various ways helps to cultivate a culture of positivity and stimulate better work performance that benefits the company as a whole.

If you want more help learning how to express gratitude for your most valuable asset, your team, book me to speak to your team today!


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