Two Most Important Engagement Words

After speaking at a meeting the other day, a woman came up to me, extended her hand, introduced herself, and started talking. She said several things in the few minutes we talked, but the last thing she said stood out to me: “Thank you.”

An hour later, I told my wife about it. Before lunch, I told two other people. During lunch, I told yet another.

Driving home after lunch, I started wondering why those two words—spoken to me by a stranger—mattered enough for me to tell four other people about them.

The Top 10 Ways to Engage Employees

In 2014, The Boston Consulting Group released their global findings on what engages workers. Over 200,000 participants completed the survey. Ten items stood out as being universally important engagement drivers to employees regardless of age, gender, country, or industry—

  • Job security
  • Company values
  • Attractive fixed salary
  • Interesting job content
  • Good work-life balance
  • Appreciation for their work
  • Company’s financial stability
  • Good relationship with superiors
  • Learning and career development
  • Good relationships with colleagues

While those items made the top 10, I ordered them above from shortest to longest. Guess which of those 10 made the #1 slot?

Appreciation for their work. Find the complete report here:

Thank You: It’s Simple and Free

The simplest, cheapest way to supercharge employee engagement and job satisfaction is with those two little words: thank you. That’s why a stranger telling me Thank You stuck with me. Those two little words have power when said sincerely.

Can you say Thank You to 10 people in the next 24 hours?

Will you take up this challenge? Let me start by priming the pump for things you can say THANK YOU for when you see them:

  • Your spouse puts his dirty dishes near the dishwasher. THANK YOU!
  • Your child starts his homework without being nagged. THANK YOU!
  • Your barista hands you the coffee you ordered. THANK YOU!
  • Your coworker asks a question in a meeting that you had but didn’t voice. THANK YOU!
  • Your daughter offers you an unsolicited hug. THANK YOU!
  • Your wife starts filing your corporate taxes. THANK YOU!
  • Your dog fetches and releases the ball you just threw. THANK YOU!

I’d love to hear what you thanked other people for. And I’d love to hear how it made them feel when you did. But most importantly, I’d love to know how saying Thank You made YOU feel!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom Arnold says:

    Scott, thank you for those insightful words. I knew I was going to hear from you today when my horoscope this morning said it was a 5 star day for me. I
    heard your going to be at the Right at Home annual meeting in Phoenix in May again this year. Look forward to seeing you.

    1. Hey Tom! Good to hear from you. Funny about the horoscope! I’m hoping yours was not on a 10 point scale 🙂 I’m very excited to return to Phoenix for the Right At Home conference. Since the last time I was with your group, I’ve had some experiences with your services, and I’m grateful for what you do.

  2. Susan Clayton Moorefield, SPHR says:

    Being a Southern woman we were taught at an early age to say thank you. It is so much a part of me that it comes naturally in everything I do. Not as a habit but as an appreciation. Being a manager for many years I feel that saying thank you to employees that report to me have gained me their respect and definitely their commitment to me and hopefully to the organization. I work with managers every day that never say thank you and I can see a difference in their employees attitudes and commitment. The old days of “personnel” are gone. If managers cannot embrace the concept that employees are our “human assets” then they will not succeed as managers.

    1. Amen to that, Susan! My mother was a Southerner, too, and she taught me early on the importance of those two words. But as with so many good habits (getting 8 hours of sleep, drinking plenty of water, making exercise a priority), we get busy and forget just how critical they are to keeping us balanced and happy. The old school management attitude of “Thank them?! That’s what I pay them for!” is dead. And true leaders get that.

  3. Karen Fioriglio says:

    I just picked up and started re-reading Don’t throw your underwear on the table again yesterday. Then, today, I saw your email. Thank you. I really do make an effort to say thank you to my employees. Not only do I really appreciate their efforts, they make me look good so I need to say thank you. It means a lot to me to hear those words so yes, it feels good to say the words and mean it. I do love your meaningful, well written, and many times humorous posts. Your books are worth reading and re-reading, also. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Karen! Hearing that you enjoyed “undies” made my day! I have three other books in the hopper, and this adds incentive for me to finish them! And you are so right about employees making us look good. They can make or break us.

  4. Melissa says:

    I travel frequently and I always try to thank every gate agent and flight attendant I meet. I especially thank them on horrible travel days where the back ups are massive and everyone is tired and argumentive. I thank them for coming to work and putting up with all of us. The relief and pleasant surprise that crosses their faces is worth the extra effort to be pleasant. Living thankfully changes the whole experience.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Melissa. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you probably get much better customer service from the airlines than most people!

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