Need to thank your employees? There is no better way than to just say it


According to a Bersin and Associates statistic, 87 percent of formalised recognition programmes in organisations focus on tenure. This means that landmarks like five, 10, and 15 years in an organisation are the only ones that seem to call for recognition and gratitude. Coming from a generation of perceived job-hopping myself – a generation that commits to a productive but not necessarily a decade long stint – I find this disturbing. Are we saying that all we really care about is how long you stick around and not so much about how good you have been in your association, how committed, how productive, how engaged, or how much value you have added in the three years or one?

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Millennials get a bad rep for wanting to be thanked for just doing their job. I don’t think that is true either. It could be a case of blunt brush strokes in an attempt to understand a generation we don’t seem to know well enough. In my experience, millennials expect to be trusted and feel appreciated because they often do bring spunk, commitment and constant, relentless engagement, often much more than the last generation. And even if they don’t, there is nothing you and I can do about it. The cool new generation of ‘on the ball, hyper plugged in, almost always expecting and giving more than their share of feedback, ideas and work’, is here to stay, and lead.

Genuine appreciation and relentless feedback are key areas organisations, leaders, and managers will need to work on if they want to integrate this generation into the workplace. But how do we do it?

Just say it

Someone delivered a great presentation? Tell them. Did they just win a new project? Mention how much value it adds. Did they turn around a difficult client? Tell them you understand how difficult it must have been.

Show trust by being flexible

Your most valuable employees are not the ones who work long hours in their cubicles. They are the ones who have interests outside of it, which gives them perspective, creativity, and exposure to a whole new world of ideas rarely found in the air-conditioned cubicles and endless meetings. Trust them enough to take their vacation time or work from anywhere. Believe that they will do the right thing, especially when they have earned it.

Be meaningful in your appreciation

A ‘Beer@Work’ doesn’t cut it, really. Career progression, better benefits, flexibility, a sense of community, and opportunities for global mobility do, as a PwC survey succinctly put it.

It’s a brave, new world for organisations to navigate. This is also the first time three generations are at the workplace together. The sooner organizations are able to adapt to and accommodate the diverse, but equally valuable, skill sets and needs of all of them, the higher chances we will have of stronger employee engagement and reasonably longer stints.