Do I have to thank staff who show up?

By Cara Silletto, MBA

In my mind, gratefulness and frustration are at two different ends of one spectrum. If you feel one, it’s difficult to feel the other at the same time, and people land – at any given moment – somewhere on the spectrum between the two extremes.

I see this both in personal relationships and in the workplace.

At times, I get frustrated with my mom. (Who doesn’t, right?) Now, don’t misunderstand. She’s the best mom in the whole world, but sometimes our expectations don’t align. And when I get frustrated with her, I think very specifically about all the great things she’s done for me over the years, which shifts my mindset more toward appreciation on the spectrum. I literally say things to myself like, “Now Cara, she paid for your braces when you were a kid,” and “Remember, she babysits your son for free when you travel.” It resets my thinking and keeps my frustration from growing into resentment by bringing gratitude to the forefront of that relationship.

When I tell leaders in my retention workshops they should show more appreciation for their staff, I get several head nods from those who know that’s an area they could or should improve upon. I also get a few folks in the crowd who cross their arms, lean back in their chairs, and roll their eyes when I start this conversation. I get it. No manager wants to “reward mediocrity” in the workplace when staff aren’t meeting their expectations. All too often, I’ve heard the comment, “I’m not going to thank someone for showing up. That’s why they get a paycheck.” But let’s explore the evolution of the employer/employee relationship before we land on that philosophy.

Back in the day, employees had pensions that kept them at the same company for decades. Today, companies lay off staff as needed, and pensions are long gone. The primary “carrot on a stick” many companies are still using to try and keep their people is a grim 2-3% pay increase each year (which is a cost of living adjustment, not a raise), while good employees used to get 5% or more years ago. Plus, who’s hiring today? Everyone!

This combination of factors means employees gain very little for staying loyal to any employer today. They can go anywhere for a cost of living increase, and top that off with feeling underappreciated for their work, and they’re gone!

So, what matters? How you make your staff feel.

Do you show appreciation for their dedication to coming to work each day? If you’re one who feels that showing up equates to their paycheck, just know they can get a paycheck anywhere these days, and they don’t owe you anything once they’ve been paid. If you have that paycheck mentality, every pay period you’re back to zero in the relationship. But what if you continued to make additional positive deposits to strengthen the relationship? What if you thanked your people more?

Do you have people who don’t show up?

Do you have people who show up, but don’t do their job?

Are you, in fact, grateful for the people who show up and do their job?

Dig down deep and find the genuine gratitude you have for those who are good, dependable staff. Instead of focusing on the problem employees, take time to notice and recognize those who take great care of those you serve. You couldn’t be a successful organization without your staff, so let’s not take anyone who brings value for granted!

It doesn’t cost a dime to thank people. And remember, simply showing appreciation for a job well done will shift your placement on the spectrum and reduce the amount of frustration in your workplace.

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