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Two little words hold the key to a successful team: “thank” and “you”. Business owners and managers don’t even have to spend money or time on grand gestures or parties. Just the words, spoken on a regular basis and with sincerity, do the trick.

Forbes and LinkedIn assert that millennials change jobs more than any other generation. But from the perspective of a business owner, employee turnover is more expensive than keeping your team in tact. So how do you inspire them to stick around when new opportunities are constantly trying to tempt them away?

small business loan apply nowA recent study by Appirio shows that the top tip for employee retention is a simple “thank you”. According to their press release, “60% of respondents said when analyzing a job offer, knowing whether the staff feel appreciated by management is most important, while only 4% were most concerned with knowing how often employees were evaluated for raises.” In fact, gratitude alone is more valuable than money: “55% of workers value receiving a ‘thank you’ from their managers for a project well done, while only 8% would feel disappointed if the same project didn’t result in a cash reward.” Some things really are priceless.

The benefits of a simple thank you go both ways. Not only does it make employees want to stay, but a consistent and well-crafted message of gratitude motivates them to do a better job. Dr. Geil Browning, CEO of Emergenetics International says, “When you recognize the contributions of others, you reinforce the kind of behavior you want to see again. People who feel their efforts are noticed, and their work makes a difference, are more likely to go the extra mile in the future. Leadership is about empowering others to realize their own abilities. Communicate your belief in your people, and watch them rise to meet your expectations.” Showing your employees that you see the work they do makes them more eager to improve.

Dr. Browning continues, “Our research at Emergenetics indicates that most employees would enjoy a personal thank-you note, but they want it customized to them.” She backs up her assertion with a list of ten 8-word options for writing thank you notes depending on the employee’s personality.

The personal touch will never go unnoticed. You can scour Pinterest for cute ideas for thank you gestures and gifts, but sometimes old fashioned ideas, like a handwritten note or a genuine phrase, persist for a good reason.

Recommended Reading

Work that Works: Emergineering a Positive Organizational Culture by Dr. Geil Browning