Saying thanks easier than ever

Online recognition tools give employees, managers ability to say thanks and track points for awards
By Roger Jewett
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/01/2007

It’s a rare organization where saying “thanks” to employees is part of a daily ritual. And that’s a shame, because lack of appreciation is one of the top reasons employees leave their jobs.

Taking the time to say thanks can go a long way in improving employee retention. Employers that think they’re doing everything right may want to take a step back and double-check to ensure they’re really paying enough attention to employees.

After all, it’s becoming harder to find new employees and keep existing ones. If they leave, it may be more difficult and expensive to replace them than ever before. So why aren’t employers doing a better job recognizing employees? After all, there are dozens of books on the market that tell managers they should. And there are many HR consultants who will tell employers recognition is critical to employee engagement.

Why people don’t say thanks

There are many reasons why people don’t say thanks, including:

• “Why should I say thanks when they were just doing their job?”

• “I don’t want it to go to their head.”

• “I don’t want them to develop a sense of entitlement.”

• “I was too busy.”

• “I wanted to wait until the end of the project to say thanks, and make it special.”

• “I don’t want to sound insincere.”

• “I did say thank you.”

But, especially in a hot job market, making excuses or leaving recognition to chance is clearly not the best option. Managers need to make it part of their daily rituals. One way to create discipline in recognition is through the use of an online employee recognition program.

The right online employee recognition system can be a fast, fun and easy way to say thanks more often. It can motivate teams to communicate more and, as a result of feeling more appreciated, they will be more productive.

An online system should be simple so people actually use it. If it’s too complicated, people won’t bother. It should also be single purpose. Don’t confuse people by giving them too much information or asking them to do too much.

Have the system notify the recipient when a note is sent to her. Receiving any note of thanks or appreciation will light up the recipient’s day. (And it’s also gratifying for the sender, because it’s always better to give than to receive.)

With the above elements in place, an online system can actually be fun to use. Employers can assign points to thank-you notes and track total points received by each person. Although the thank-you notes will be reward enough, the points can be used as the foundation of a monthly reward program. This will keep everyone engaged.

Systems should be peer to peer

The system should also be open to regular employees, not just managers. Give employees the ability to use the system, give points and send notes of appreciation to their colleagues. HR professionals are often surprised at the authenticity of some of the notes sent.

The system can track each employee’s points and display the comments sent and received by employee. This is a simple yet efficient way for managers to become more aware of some of the great work their team is doing that they may not have seen first hand.

An easy-to-use database will allow managers to sort all data collected by user, date and comments received and sent. This will provide valuable information for employee reviews or to ensure the team is using the system to its fullest potential.

But the biggest benefit of an online program is it provides the support to create and sustain a culture of positive recognition.

An improved culture will not only reduce turnover but create a buzz around the organization that will make for a happy and engaged team.

Roger Jewett is president of Calgary-based Rare Method and the inventor of Kudos, an online employee recognition tool. For more information visit

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