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National survey finds more than half of workers are rarely, if ever, thanked. In Lancaster County, it seems to go both ways.

For 17 years Mark Roy has driven his truck from Boston to Lancaster for a local trucking company. After logging more than a million miles on the road, you'd think he'd get a "thank you" from his boss now and then. "Never," said Roy, "And if I got one at this point, I'd think it meant nothing." Roy is not an exception.

A national survey done by a St Louis company that tracks workplace issues, revealed that 55% of employees rarely, if ever, get thanked for a good job. Still, a third of the employees surveyed felt they were thanked a lot.

Kirby Martzall, President of KL Martzall, a national consulting firm based in Lancaster, PA, works with Owners, CEOs and executive teams across the US was not surprised that more than half of employees feel unappreciated or has he states it “underappreciated and under-recognized.”

"I'm a bit surprised the percentage isn't higher," said Martzall. "The common thread in all this is people. Regardless of salary level or position, knowing what you do is appreciated is a real value to most people. And when you hear this from the person you report to or someone you see as being of significance in the organization- this takes on even greater meaning and value." Martzall continued, "What the CEO (or boss) says gets amplified and what this leader does gets magnified. Same goes for what is not said and not done."

Martzall said people in leadership roles would benefit by considering to thank employees either in person or through a written note — and being specific (regarding what you are commending, recognizing, thanking) the person for is of central importance.

"Some nights I didn't get around to writing a thank-you to an associate until 11pm that evening," Martzall said, "but I never felt tired doing it. Letting another know they are appreciated, doing an excellent job, making a contribution is energizing — not depleting."

Martzall and other workplace experts suggest other meaningful incentives may include giving time off, being flexible with an employee's schedule or taking the time to say something personal to the person so they know that the boss really does notice and care. "People who are doing an excellent job or putting forth consistent effort don't need some one to tell them; however they really do appreciate and value some one letting them know it is noticed and appreciated." Martzall said. "There are many ways to thank employees."

One CEO he knows "grills hamburgers and hot dogs at lunch time (on all three shifts) a time or two each year just to be there and say thanks." This is an especially strong statement on third shift.

Another has a drawing where one person from each department across the company 'wins' an invitation to participate as a 'guest of honor' in a donuts and coffee session with the president. "And for that hour the president becomes a listener and really learns about each employee participating and gets feedback about the business and how things are really going and about he work they are doing. He seriously regards it as a high point in each month." said Kirby.

"Others give out gift certificates or other small incentives," he said, "It's not about the money, it's about feeling that the boss cares about you and your contribution."

"Few feel they are paid enough for what they do and that is difficult to get by; however, letting another person know they are genuinely appreciated is within the range of every CEO's budget and capability. When the expression is authentic it makes the rough edges of an employment relationship a bit more smooth and personal," recommends Kirby, "And it's been my experience that 'bosses' also value hearing appreciation for their hard work."

Who knows, maybe Roy and his boss will find a way to clear the air and say thanks — it's a two way street.

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Did Your Boss Say "Thanks" Today?
Lancaster New Era, September 17 2003
by Susan Baldridge, New Era Staff Writer