According to research by Aon Hewitt 72% of employees value communication and recognition from their leaders, and 46% report they don’t get enough. Employees who are recognized are 33% more likely to proactively innovate and generate two times as many ideas per month compared to those who aren’t recognized well. Imagine the competitive advantage you could create for your organization by making employee recognition a priority. We often hear from small business owners, “I don’t have the time or money for an employee recognition program.”  But sending a simple thank-you note to an employee can do wonders.

Sincerely expressing our appreciation in writing is becoming somewhat of a dying art. Here are some tips and examples of how to write a sincere, effective thank-you note to a hard-working employee.

  • Be timely. Share your thanks as soon as possible after you observe the above and beyond action.
  • Be specific. Tell the employee exactly what he or she did to earn your thanks and why it is important to your organization. Avoid any criticism in the note. This is not the time and place for that.
  • Be sincere. You don’t have to go overboard with your praise. Your note can be short and sweet.
  • Be frequent. Sincere thanks never get old. Research shows people in high performance cultures need praise from their supervisor at least every seven days, and praise should be given five times to every one criticism.

Here are some examples of employee thank you notes:
“Good work, but next time could you make sure you don’t forget to turn in your timecard on time?”

What’s wrong with this example? First, it’s not specific. Second, the “good work” is quickly followed up with a “but.” Never include a “but” in your thanks. The employee will not remember the thank you, and will only remember the criticism.

“I really appreciate your hard work. Thanks for all you do.”

How could this be better? This note could be written to anyone. It lacks sincerity and authenticity because it is so vague. Specifically outlining the contribution your team member made would take this example to the next level.

Melanie, Lori stopped me in the hallway to tell me how much she appreciates the support you have provided her team during the reorganization. She said you have gone above and beyond to make yourself available to answer any questions that arise and you have kept her in the loop with the weekly reports you send. Thank you for exemplifying the value we place on teamwork in our organization. I am so glad you are on our team.”

Why is this such a great example?  It clearly outlines the contribution Melanie has made and the note mentions the organizational value of teamwork.

You can take the power of a thank-you note one step further by sending it directly to your team member’s home. It’s always fun to get something in the mail and it’s even better when you see an unexpected note from your boss. Remember that your employees have a life outside of work. Writing a thank you note expressing your appreciation for your team member to his or her spouse or family is another powerful way to show your appreciation.

Looking for more ways to express appreciation to your employees? Check out our Employee Recognition Toolkit.