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Is Saying “Thank You” the Secret to Improving Employee Health?

Warehouse employee receives congratulations during team meeting

Have you ever considered what a simple “thank you” can do for engagement and safety? It’s worth thinking about, because according to research, being thanked is linked to an increase in work satisfaction, which in turn can improve attitudes, moods, safety and health.

A recent study—titled Gratitude reception and physical health: Examining the mediating role of satisfaction with patient care in a sample of acute care nurses—shows the positive relationship between workplace gratitude and physical and mental health.

The study

The study gathered data on 146 nurses over 12 weeks. After examining their findings, researchers discovered that when nurses were thanked more often, it was positively related to the care they provided that week. They also experienced better “sleep quality, sleep adequacy, fewer headaches, and attempts to eat healthy.” Praise also gave them “satisfaction in a job well done and ultimately increase[d] self-care.”

Not only did the nurses experience improved health, but they also cared about themselves more, which could then lead to further health improvements down the road.

Safety professionals should take note, because the results of this research may be relevant beyond the health care industry.

Safety and the Bottom Line

Nurses aren’t the only demographic that needs recognition and this study could apply to workers in all professions. After all, appreciation is a universal human need and recognition not only fulfills this need for workers, but it can also help organizations improve their finances.

According to the researchers, “Employees that receive positive feedback are healthier, and that can impact the bottom line.” What’s more, recognition can make people more engaged and dedicated, improving their performance.

Employee health and finances aren’t the only organizational aspects improved by recognition. Safety is also affected because the more engaged workers are, the more likely they are to follow the rules and pay attention to what they’re doing. This means there’s a potential link between recognization and workplace safety.

How You Say It Matters

Many people identify with their job and connect their well-being to it. Employers who understand this can use it to create a huge positive change in their organization. But simply saying “thank you” is not enough. Recognition needs to be genuine. A quick thanks while passing by is likely to come across as patronizing and might cause resentment instead. Dr. Paul Marciano, an expert in employee engagement, says that:

Feedback has to be given quickly after the event has occurred, it has to be given in very specific terms, and it should be given enthusiastically. How you say things really matters.

And (…) coming over and shaking someone’s hand or putting a hand on their shoulder (…), and saying thank you is much more reinforcing than getting a text message or an email from somebody.

At first glance, it might appear that acknowledging employees and their efforts doesn’t need to be very high on the list of organizational priorities. What does it matter in the end after all? But as it turns out, it matters a lot.

No business can afford to ignore engagement, employee satisfaction and the related financial costs. Healthier and more dedicated workers mean fewer expenses, safer workplaces and better productivity. And it doesn’t cost anything to say “thank you” for a job well done.

 

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