Health and productivity – I thank you

The entertainment industry is pretty good at recognising success, with award ceremonies like the BAFTA’s, BRIT’s, and Oscars providing an opportunity to thank all those who have contributed to the triumphs. But what about us mere mortals, why do we shirk away from showing our appreciation of colleagues and team members? And why instead do we perpetuate organisational cultures rife with criticism, fear and negative emotions that put workforces at greater risk of heart attack?


Perhaps it’s because some managers still believe in the carrot and stick approach to performance management – using salary as the carrot and criticism as the stick. Yet research shows that criticism and other forms of negativity are the conditions found in low performing teams, not high ones. If you want teams who are engaged and productive, then frequently recognise and encourage them, and show that you value what they do – this approach is far more likely to keep them motivated to do a good job, help others, and boost their loyalty too. And these aren’t the only benefits – gratitude improves physical health, strengthens relationships, and helps us cope better with stress.

Expressing your thanks needn’t be difficult. Start with noticing what others are doing right, what contributions they’re making, and what specifically you value about them. Then tell them – in person, in emails, in handwritten notes, with gifts, or even in your own award ceremonies – in whatever way resonates with the recipient. There’s just one rule: make it sincere.

So let’s not just leave it to the world of celebrity, consider ways you can show your appreciation of others and enjoy the boost to your own well-being too. And if you need advice on this or on other matters relating to positive performance and well-being at work, contact gill@unisonmedia.co.uk.

Thank you.


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Emmons, R. (2007). Thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Emmons, R. & Shelton, C. M. (2005). Gratitude and the science of positive psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology, 459-471, Oxford University Press

Grant, A.M., & Gino, F. (2010). A little thanks goes a long way: Explaining why gratitude expressions motivate prosocial behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 946-955.

Robison, J. (2007). The business benefits of positive leadership: Finding the connection between productivity and positive management behaviour. Gallup Management Journal. Retrieved on February 24, 2013 from: http://positivepsychologynews.com/ppnd_wp/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/the-business-benefits-of-positive-leadership-20070510.pdf

Shellenbarger, S. (November 12, 2012). Expressing appreciation at the office? No thanks. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on February 24, 2013 from: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324352004578131002460783008.html

Schwartz, T. (January 21, 2012). Why appreciation matters so much. Harvard Business Review (HBR Blog Network). Retrieved on February 24, 2013 from: http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2012/01/why-appreciation-matters-so-mu.html

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