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The Quickest Fix to Happiness

By Jillian Broaddus

We all know that employee engagement – or, put more simply, basic employee happiness – is an ongoing issue. The average percentage for engaged American workers has hovered around 35% for the past decade, meaning that two out of every three people feel apathetic or actively adverse about their jobs.

As if revamping this nationwide epidemic isn’t tough enough, additional caveats to combatting a dispirited workplace come as my generation – the Millennials – rises towards occupying the majority of the workforce. We are a generation with different priorities, different skillsets, and different career goals – all of which are often somewhat misunderstood. Companies believe the solution resides in increased paychecks, “unlimited” vacation policies, or break room ping-pong tables. While all of these perks can certainly help, one fundamental foundation is often still missing: a culture of appreciation.

We’re taught to say “Thank you” as toddlers, yet those two words are exceedingly absent at work. In fact, a John Templeton Foundation survey conducted on thousands of American workers found that only 10% reported “thanking their colleagues” on a daily basis, and 60% claimed to “never express gratitude at work, or do so perhaps once a year.”

Further, CNBC reports that 80% of people feel unrecognized for what they do, while 60% say they value recognition as much as money. Plus, two-thirds of Millennials want feedback – whether it be positive recognition or constructive criticism – on a daily basis.

If you’re not already convinced to prioritize displaying thankfulness by the fact that your workers want it and aren’t getting it, know this: Gratitude doesn’t just contribute to morale or happiness, but has tangible impacts on numerous other areas. For one, appreciation increases productivity. In one University of Pennsylvania study involving fundraising calls, employees who were thanked for their efforts subsequently made 50% more calls than their co-workers. Plus, both showing and receiving words of appreciation have been shown to increase mental and physical well-being.

So, perhaps the answer is simpler than many think. It doesn’t necessarily require standing desks, free lunches, or forced off-sites. It may only require a “thank you.” Try it out and watch as two words can serve as a contagious catalyst to change your culture!

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