Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Psychology of Gratitude and Recognition

Greetings from 678 Partners!

A few days ago, I posted some interesting data about the bottom line impact that formal recognition programs contribute.  Today's post is about the "warm fuzzy" and somewhat immeasurable impact of recognition at the workplace.

The 2008 Global Recognition Study conducted by Towers Perrin covers the tangible and intangible impacts of employee recognition.  The two white papers on the study were published (here and here) earlier this year.  I encourage taking the time to read both.  The basic premise covered three elements that managers must incorporate into their daily behaviors (Inclusion, Communication and Trust) to engender and improve employee engagement.

The figure below is an illustration of the positive impact of unexpected recognition.  The study uncovered research by social scientists and neuroscientists that showed that more formal recognition excited employee loyalty -- which is perhaps to be expected.  Unexpected tokens of appreciation, or what I like to call the "just because" factor, make employee performance and loyalty skyrocket thereby creating this nifty continuous loop.  

To be clear: this is not to encourage everyone to go into Thank You Overdrive.  If we overthank, we lose some of the sincerity of a well meant and well deserved thank you.  It's just food for thought for us as peers, managers, cross functional team leaders or what have you.  A little can go a long way when creating a high performance team.

Now what about more negative experiences?  Someone recently told me a work environment where consistently high performers were given less than average performance reviews.  It seems that because they always perform at their maximum capability, they are pushed to do more instead of rewarded for their feats.  In the next post, I'll flesh this further.

As always, please email me with any comments or feedback.  I look forward to hearing from you!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some interesting data on Gratitude...


I'm in the midst of writing my next post but wanted to share a very interesting article on more formal recognition programs.  Consider this excerpt:
  • According to a Towers Perrin study, high engagement firms have an earnings-per-share growth rate of 28 percent.  By comparison, low engagement firms have a decline of 11.2 percent; that's nearly a 40 percent difference.
  • Gallup uncovered similar results in a 2006 survey.  They found that the earnings-per-share growth rate in the top quartile companies fostering employee engagement was more than 250 percent greater than below average companies.
I would argue that non formal recognition could also yield better bottom line results if it were acculturated throughout a business, large or small.

The rest of the article about more formal recognition and thank you programs can be found here:

Keep sending your thoughts and feedback to


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Attitude of Gratitude

Welcome to the first post of 678 Partners.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and my hope is that you will continue to visit our blog and learn more about us.

Creating an "Attitude of Gratitude" has been on my mind quite a bit lately - hence it being the inaugural topic - but it is by no means a breakthrough concept.  If one Googles (try it!), there are a host of search results that pop up from blogs, books and what have you.

And yet, this is missing in the workplace.  Something so simple to do and takes so little time is often one of the things we overlook on a day to day basis.  To be sure, companies have formal recognition programs of some sort but what is culturally missing these days is the powerful tool of a mere "thank you" to the person that made a difference at a certain snapshot in time.

Focus Group Of One Anecdote: Recently, a colleague helped me with something.  It was a favor, really, and I made a point of walking up to him merely to thank him.  When I was done, he asked if there was anything else.  I said, "No.  Just thank you."  The shock on his face was priceless.  It was clear that he receives very few tokens of gratitude just because.

In response to my anecdote, some may say pouring efforts in a project or extending ourselves is all part of a day's work.  True.  It is.  But you do get a spring into your step when you hear a sincere "Thanks!" or having someone sing your praises to your manager or a colleague.  This is by no means a complaint of how we have become less civil in the modern age - I will leave those things to Emily Post.  Rather, it's about how we reinforce community and camaraderie in the workplace.  Showing appreciation is one such tool to do just that.

In the next couple of posts, I will discuss ways in which the power of "thank you" can work wonders not only with peers but also with your customers.  In the meantime, I would love to hear your experiences about the power of appreciation (for good or bad).  Please send your thoughts to  I look forward to hearing from you!

Until next time...  Thanks for reading!