It Pays to be NICE to Your Employees

Nice boss

This is a guest post by my good buddies Linda and Robin over at THE POWER OF NICE.

Managers, when was the last time you asked yourself, “Am I doing enough to show my employees how much I appreciate them?”

If you’re unsure, chances are your office could probably benefit from a little gratitude. A November 2009 Careerbuilder.com survey revealed that 40 percent of employees have difficulty staying motivated at work, while 23 percent describe their office morale as “low.”  What was the reason? As you might have suspected, it was a simple one. They felt unappreciated by their employers.

Contrary to what you might think, however, it doesn’t take a whopping pay raise or a slew of promotions to make employees feel valued. Studies have shown repeatedly that it’s the small, interpersonal gestures that have the biggest payoff.

A 2010 McKinsey study found that the best workplace motivators appeal directly to the emotions, with 67 percent listing praise or recognition from an immediate manager as “effective” or “extremely effective.”  What’s more, respondents found all emotionally based motivators to be more effective than financial ones.

While we certainly can’t argue with the value of congratulating an employee on a job well done, we have another novel trick that we’ve found rather effective: chocolate. Yes, when you “sweeten the deal” quite literally, you’ll find that your employees will actually experience a bit of an emotional boost. It’s not just because of the sweet taste, either. Chocolate contains over 300 different chemicals, including caffeine, theobromine, and phenylethylamine, which stimulate the neurotransmitters in the brain linked to concentration and mood. In other words, a few handfuls of M&M’s could have employees feeling better and working smarter. (Quite a big accomplishment for a little chocolate candy!)

No matter what your approach, demonstrating your gratitude toward your employees and recognizing their accomplishments regularly is a SMALL but highly effective way to transform your office culture and rev up productivity—and as a result, kick your business into high gear.

And that’s something everyone can appreciate.

Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval are the co-authors of the bestselling books, THE POWER OF NICE: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness and THE POWER OF SMALL: Why Little Things Make All the Difference. To connect with them, follow them on Twitter, “like” them on Facebook, or check out their blog.

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6 thoughts on “It Pays to be NICE to Your Employees”

  1. That’s funny. I’ve heard installing a cappuccino machine is another effective workplace incentive. Are we all just lab rats pressing the lever to get a dose of those wonderful chemicals? Does it matter?

    I did notice at my last job when the yearly glut of chocolate and cookies started coming in from our vendors around Christmas time everyone was in a much better mood. Now I know why.

    Daisy McCarty

  2. Bribing employees with chocolates a bit of a stretch
    If people feel appreciated in anything relationship, work etc they stay longer more motivated. Common sense really. Question is how can you really help people feel respected… And it’s not chocolate

  3. I’m getting the fact that the “chocolate” was just the icing on the cake, so to speak. Much has been written about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, and we all know that compensation is really not the chief reason people are motivated, happy or unhappy on the job. It is amazing that no matter what our age, we all need the validation of “you’re doing a great job,” or “the way you handled that situation was AWESOME.” Speaking as a critical care nurse on a busy ICU unit, there are days when there’s barely time to eat lunch or go to the bathroom. On those days, a dark chocolate is really appreciated, and brings a smile and sigh…However, I feel disrespected during Nurses’ Week, when administration breezes by our unit to drop off ice cream sandwiches, or candy…and that is how our dedication and work is celebrated. Don’t get me wrong…I like the ice cream, but it almost feels as though our contribution to patients and their families is invalidated. It would be more meaningful to hear a heartfelt, “We appreciate your work, admire the care you give, and are really grateful for your contribution to what we are doing here.” Very simple, and doesn’t cost anything, other than sensitivity and thoughtfulness on the part of management.

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