How to Write Employee Thank You Notes

A handwritten employee thank you is a keepsake and one of your best ways to show real appreciation.

Handwritten employee Thank You notes are still one of the best ways to praise and motivate employees. (Image by ArteZoe, Flickr)

It’s back to the future for employee Thank You notes! Even in the digital age, handwriting a Thank You note to employees is enjoying a comeback among HR professionals and business leaders.

“I think the art of the handwritten note is still powerful. I try to write at least a few each month to members of my team,” American Cancer Society CIO Jay Ferro writes in his recent Enterprisers Project article, “3 Powerful Ways to Praise Employee Progress.”

Regular, informal and low-cost employee recognition is on the rise, according to a survey at last month’s 2016 SHRM Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

Employee Thank You notes fill the need for low-cost recognition — and they work.

HR pros surveyed at SHRM report that Employee Thank You notes are among the top three recognition initiatives having the biggest impact on engagement. Nearly three-quarters of the 300-plus survey participants said they “plan to expand their recognition programs over the next year.”

“The biggest takeaway is that HR understands the value of daily and ongoing recognition,” Cord Himelstein, VP of marketing and communications at Michael C. Fina Recognition, which conducted the SHRM survey, says in the Employee Benefit News article, “Seeing Results, More Employers Are Saying ‘Thank You’ to Workers.”

If you’re intimidated by the thought of writing employee Thank You notes, you’re not alone! We’re all so accustomed to email and social media now that the “potential formality” of a handwritten Thank You note can be daunting, says Phoenix Business Journal editor-in-chief Ilana Lowery.

But it’s worth it to develop a Thank You note habit. Read on to find out what makes a memorable employee Thank You note.

The Formula for Amazing Employee Thank You Notes

Every note you write is unique. That’s why they’re such a meaningful way to thank employees! Still, all great employee Thank You notes follow a formula and share these five elements:

1. Timeliness

Don’t wait to say “thanks”! Ultimately, your goal is to create a connection between the employee’s excellent performance and your appreciation so they understand right away which behaviors to repeat.

2. A Personal Connection

Be sure you’re connecting with the employee on a personal level. If you’re stumped, try answering one of these questions:

  • What do you remember about meeting this person?
  • Is there a specific moment that stands out from your time working together?
  • What have you noticed about the employee’s approach to work?
  • How does this person inspire others?

3. Specifics

Next, mention specifically why you’re grateful. Your appreciation should always follow a specific instance of excellent performance. Did the employee handle a customer complaint well, or come up with a creative solution to a nagging problem?

4. Impact

What is the impact of the employee’s excellent performance on the company? Are sales up, customer complaints down, or coworkers communicating better?

“One of the most important things that managers must do is help employees see why their work matters to someone. Even if this sounds touchy-feely to some, it is a fundamental part of human nature,” author Patrick Lencioni writes in his book, “The Truth About Employee Engagement.”

5. Gratitude

There’s a reason we call them “Thank You” notes! Sign off your note with a big expression of gratitude using these two powerful words.

Remember, Thank You notes don’t need to be paragraphs long. The best are just a few sentences — sweet and to the point. For inspiration, read Mental Floss’ “11 Amazing Thank You Notes From Famous People.”

Want to Make Your Thank You Note Stand Out?

  • Write it on plantable stationary that the recipient can grow into flowers. Botanical Paperworks offers cards embedded with wildflower seeds. When the flowers bloom, the employee will be reminded of your appreciation!
  • Enclose a Gift Certificate. Even a $5 gift certificate for ice cream or candy is a meaningful way for the employee to celebrate their success.

And most importantly, share it in the spirit of gratitude culture! For practical tips on sharing and promoting gratitude every day in your workplace, download our free eBook “Transform Your Workplace With Gratitude.” You’ll find advice here on recruiting and retaining a great workforce, engaging employees and building a sustainable culture of appreciation.

Download Your FREE Workplace Gratitude Guide Now!


Download FREE eBook

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any grocery store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick Kiley, Chief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at [email protected] or 888-609-2234.
Follow the Company Blog — “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video — “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

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