According to psychology professor, Robert Emmons, gratitude is a basic human requirement. Since we spend most of our time at the office, giving and receiving thanks at work is important. Most people come to work every day, aiming to do a good job. What should they get in return? Businesswoman Mary Kay Ash famously said: “there are two things people want more than sex and money: recognition and praise.”

What is wrong with recognising a job well done? Why not say thank you more often, and mean it? There are numerous scientifically supported studies, showing the benefits a simple “thank you” offers at an individual and an organisational level.

  • Thanking employees increases productivity: Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that grateful leaders motivate their employees to be more productive. In one study involving fundraising calls, employees who were thanked by their managers made 50% more fundraising calls than their co-workers.
  • Gratitude improves well-being: Many studies have linked gratitude to better physical health. Grateful people tend to have lower blood pressure, improved immunity and healthier hearts.
  • Gratitude builds mental strength: Studies conducted in 2008 show grateful people are more resilient. They are better equipped to manage stress and they experience fewer negative emotions, like resentment and envy.
  • Generosity is contagious: When leaders show appreciation and gratitude, there is likely to be a ripple effect. Studies show cooperative and altruistic behaviour spreads from person to person. Showing gratitude toward someone is likely to inspire that person to thank other people.
  • Gratitude increases job satisfaction: Research has linked gratitude to increased job satisfaction. When people feel appreciated and they show appreciation for what they have, they are more likely to be happy with their jobs.

Initiating the effort to make employees feel appreciated and included can reap great rewards in terms of performance, productivity and satisfaction of the entire team. At the end of the day, the principle is very simple: We all want to feel valued. So, next time that somebody does a job well done, say “thank you.”


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Fowler, J.H., & Christakis, N.A. (2010). Cooperative behaviour cascades in human social networks. PNAS, 107(12), 5334-5338.

Morin, A. (2016). How an authentic ‘thank you’ can change your workplace culture. Retrieved from

Sun, K. (2017). How to create a culture of gratitude in the workplace. Retrieved from

Waters, L. (2012). Predicting job satisfaction: Contributions of individual gratitude and institutionalised gratitude. Psychology, 3, 1174-1176.

Wood, A.M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P.A., & Joseph, S. (2008). The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(4), 854-871.


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