Fiona Smith Columnist

Fiona writes on workplace issues, including management, psychology, workplace design, human resources and recruitment. She is a former Work Space editor at The Australian Financial Review and has also covered property, technology, architecture and general news.

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Nothing gratuitous about saying thank you, it can reap big rewards at work

Published 14 February 2013 00:37, Updated 15 April 2013 11:24

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Nothing gratuitous about saying thank you, it can reap big rewards at work

Companies with recognition programs have 31 per cent lower voluntary turnover than their peers Photo: Jo Gay

If you could get your hands on one of the most effective motivation tools in existence and galvanise people to go way beyond what is expected of them, what would you be prepared to pay?

What if this tool could be applied at your workplace to improve performance, in shops to get great service and even at home to improve family relationships?

Well, that tool is a “thank you”. And it costs you nothing. It is incredible how far a little gratitude will go. Companies with recognition programs have 31 per cent lower voluntary turnover than their peers, American research by Bersin & Associates has found.

However, only a minority 17 per cent of those employees surveyed in 834 organisations report that their employers strongly support recognition.

Director of Great Place To WorkZrinka Lovrencic says she has noticed increasing interest from leaders in recognition programs that do not require a big budget – especially since the global financial crisis.

Lovrencic runs the Best Places to Work survey that appears each year in BRW . “We’re seeing that it’s more the process of being recognised, rather than being rewarded, that has the most impact,” she says. “Most companies think reward and recognition means big budgets but they don’t. Recognition can be simply a manager saying, ‘thank you’.”

Lovrencic’s view is supported by a study published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that found that a thank you letter encouraged 66 per cent of participants to provide further help – twice as many as those who were not thanked. The letter of thanks also encouraged participants to assist the next person who asked. So the thanks is a gift that keeps on giving.

In Australia, Ikon Communications holds an Ikonoclast of the Year award twice a year, allowing people to nominate a colleague who has gone above and beyond.

The winner gets $1000 to spend on something they are passionate about.

Companies wanting to nominate for this year’s Best Places to Work must register by March 14 through Great Place to Work .

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