How to Express Gratitude at Work

Published: Nov 21, 2017

 Workplace Issues       

In honor of Thanksgiving, we started discussing gratitude and how it plays out in the office. We asked a few of Vault’s staff members for their opinions on expressing gratitude at work, to get a sense of how best to demonstrate appreciation in the workplace. Here’s what they had to say:

 “Today, with email and instant messaging, it's so easy to digitally thank people for their hard work. But to show your sincere appreciation for work well done, it's best to do so in person. Even if it's just walking over to someone's desk and saying thanks for doing x and y, an in-person interaction will go a long way toward showing that you honestly and greatly appreciate the work someone has completed. Of course, today, with everyone so focused on their screens, you can frighten people if you stop by someone's desk unannounced. So you might want to say your face-to-face thank yous right before a meeting, in the hallway, or while waiting for the elevator. It could also make sense to pick up the phone and call someone; that is, if you can't be face to face to with someone, at the very least thank them with your voice, rather than your digitally typed words.” — Derek Loosvelt

“Receiving acknowledgement of a job well done is one of the best and most rewarding feelings at work—often incentivizing employees to keep working hard. As such, showing appreciation of your colleagues’ hard work is critical. While saying “Thank you” via email is customary when someone has helped you with a project or made a major contribution, sometimes it pays to go beyond that. I like to give someone a call to say “thank you,” because it’s more personable and stands out from the mass of emails in your inbox. If a colleague has done something exceptional to help me out, I’ll thank them by buying them a small gift or treating them to lunch. Little acts of gratitude really stand out to people, and make them feel that their effort was really appreciated.” — Isabel Sperry

“It's crucial to show gratitude for work, whether you're just a member of a team or a manager. From the smaller, daily "thank yous" to grander gestures when a project is completed, they're all important for instilling respect and a collegial culture. My favorite thing to do at the end of a big project or quarter is to bring in some type of treats for everyone to share. Not only is it a reprieve from work, but it's also a wonderful moment for people to gather together and chat, rendering the moment celebratory and a bit more special than just an email thanking everyone for their hard work.” — Kristina Rudic

“A consistent complaint I hear from many law firm associates is that they don’t feel appreciated by their firm or the partners with whom they work. And I know from my experience practicing at large firms that there can be a distinct lack of gratitude for the long hours and hard work. But I did work with a few partners and senior associates who would go out of their way to genuinely thank me for a job well done. I don’t just mean an email that simply says “thanks” when receiving an assignment (though that is nice too), but a genuine expression of gratitude. One partner made a point of dropping by my office when we were both working late and saying, “I really appreciate all the long hours you’ve been working on this case.” Another made sure to take the entire case team out for a drink after a particularly grueling stretch and specifically thanked each of us for our contributions. These small gestures really stood out to me and make the work feel more worthwhile, and as I have progressed in my career, I have tried (though not always succeeded) to remember to express my gratitude to those working with me or reporting to me. Some may think that your salary is your employer’s way of thanking you for your work, but simply remembering to thank your team can really do wonders for workplace morale.” — Matt Moody

“If I notice that someone has gone above and beyond on a project I'm working on, I'll definitely thank them—in person, if we're in the same location, or with an email or phone call if we're not. I don't typically do a lot of gifts, and have a particular aversion to cards with pre-written messages (because, as someone who values the written word, nothing says "I'm just checking this off my list" like a Hallmark verse). If I do give someone a gift, it's likely because they have gone well beyond the scope of their usual responsibilities and/or hours—typically I'll give a bottle of the person's favorite adult beverage, assuming they have one. Beyond that, the best way I know to express gratitude is to reciprocate: If I see you giving extra effort for me, then I'll do the same for you wherever possible.” — Phil Stott