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It’s not enough to thank employees during the holidays. Build a thank you culture by showing your workplace appreciation year-round!

One great way to build that thank you culture is by paying it forward.


In Forbes article, “The Thank You Culture,” awarding-winning PR expert Ken Makovsky notes that workplace thank you’s don’t happen often enough. In fact, research shows that workplaces rank last among places people express gratitude.

According to research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), just 10% of workers thank a coworker daily, and only 7% thank a boss. While 40% frequently thank colleagues, Makovsky writes:

“It’s clear that intra-office gratitude is not what it should be.”

Luckily, supervisors can set the tone and build a thank you culture. Nearly half (49%) of managers believe thank you culture increases profit. 

“That should drive every CEO and manager responsible for the bottom line.”

Every Thank You Adds Up

It’s important to thank individuals for work well done on specific projects. However, according to Reid Carr, president of marketing firm Red Door Interactive:

“There are a litany of occasions where everyone from top management on down do little daily things that add up to a big positive impact for the company in the long term.”

In his Fast Company article, “Creating a Culture of Thank You,” Carr explains that his company celebrates those achievements regularly. That’s why  thank you culture is so essential to his organization.

[Tweet ““[Celebrating] recognizes the efforts people give on a regular basis and helps increase employee satisfaction, morale and performance.””]

Celebrating small successes is crucial to maintaining a happy office environment, Carr writes. Not only that, but the more the merrier! A thank you should come from all levels of the organization.  

Pay It Forward

To build that thank you culture, start with the foundation of a “pay it forward” environment. The concept is easy, writes Mark Bregman, head of recruiting firm BOB Search, in his Recruiting Blogs post “Pay It Forward—At Work”:

“When you are the beneficiary of a good deed, and you can’t exactly pay back the kindness (to that same person), pay it forward by doing 3 good deeds to others, preferably strangers; random acts of kindness.”

For her post, “How to Create a Culture of ‘Paying It Forward,’” Kimberly Weisul, editor-at-large for, talked with Milena Tsvetkova, a Cornell doctoral candidate studying spontaneous generosity. Tsvetkova says:

“When someone anonymous does you a favor, you cannot return the favor directly, so you repay it to someone else. … So if we see people doing favors, we’re more inclined to do so ourselves … these mechanisms are stronger when people don’t know each other.

6 Ways to pay it forward at work

Obviously, in a workplace, people do know each other. But you can still build a thank you culture by paying it forward at work, Bregman writes:

“[We can do] more than what is expected not just in tasks, but on the human side.”

He offers six suggestions for building a thank you culture:

1. Mentor
If you’re more experienced than others around you, help them get up to speed, even if your boss hasn’t asked you to. Helping your juniors improve makes you more valuable to your company!

2. Include
If there are cliques in your organization, take someone on the fringes to lunch. A simple invitation can be a huge gift to a lonely person.

3. Support
If a colleague is moody or grumpy, ask what you can do to help. Sometimes just sitting and listening to someone vent—without providing advice—can cheer them up (just be sure you don’t cross boundaries in terms of what’s appropriate to discuss at work).

4. Acknowledge
Catch people doing things right—even small things—especially if you’re in a position to criticize when they do something wrong.  Bremen’s motto is:

“‘Take all the blame and give all the credit’—this will make you a hero in the eyes of the other person.”

5. Volunteer
When a colleague needs help on a project, offer to help. You’ll both feel great.

6. Let Go
Do you harbor resentment about petty things that have happened at work? Ask yourself if it will matter in a month or a year. If it doesn’t, let it go! Bremen advises:

“Letting go sounds like giving something up, but in fact it’s the most empowering thing we can do—it immediately makes room for joy and other positive experiences. And it’s always a gift to the other person, too.”


For more on how to pay it forward and build your thank you culture at work, check the Pay It Forward Foundation website. Or look into the annual Pay It Forward (PIF) Day. (It was April 30 this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait a year—hold your own PIF Day and get rolling with gratitude.)

These are little things, but they add up to a thank you culture when they happen regularly.

“And remember, Bregman notes, “what goes around, comes around. People who pay it forward are the recipients of more abundance and joy in their lives, directly and indirectly.”

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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 ( is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick Kiley, Chief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at or 888-484-1658.
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