If you are a CEO there’s a good chance you highly value gratitude in the work place. There’s also a solid chance that you are not sufficiently expressing the appreciation you have for your team.

As the Founder and Executive Chairman of a relationship building business I focus on gratitude every day. In fact, I recently commissioned a survey to better understand how appreciation is being expressed and perceived in today’s workplace. It turns out that most CEOs appreciate the importance of incorporating gratitude into their corporate culture and believe that they are successfully doing so. However our survey of their employees didn’t bear out that belief.  

The survey showed that nearly every CEO believes in the importance of expressing gratitude, and their employees agreed that gratitude, both given and received, is an important part of the workplace dynamic. Interestingly, the survey also showed that the majority of employees do not feel sufficiently appreciated for their work. There is a discrepancy here and it seems to involve the CEOs’ perception of the gratitude they express isn’t meeting the employees’ expectation of gratitude.

Business leaders would be wise to take heed. Gratitude is not just important for maintaining a pleasant work environment; it is also an important ingredient in key employee and client retention. Our survey revealed that 50% of employees will consider leaving a job if they feel underappreciated.  

To help address this problem, my partners and I launched Thnks, a relationship management system for SMB and large enterprise clients. We designed the product specifically for sales, finance and human resources professionals, enabling them to instantly send gestures of appreciation that are timely, thoughtful and personalized.

We live in a time of instant communication, and more often than not we are expressing ourselves via smartphone and other digital means. Generic smiley faces and “thx’s” are easily passed around. Sadly, what’s lost in this frenzy of technology is the practice of expressing gratitude in a personal, meaningful and routine way.

Since we first deployed Thnks it has been used to share almost 100,000 gestures of appreciation to employees, prospects, and clients. Gestures are organized by category to make it easy to find the ideal option for the recipient.  Managers can boost morale by sending a timely gift, along with words of appreciation, to an employee who has performed particularly well; coworkers can show that they care and are mindful of one another by treating tired teammates to a coffee, a meal, a ride home or even tickets to a movie for their family. Small gestures quickly become bigger when they mean something and are in the moment.

Our survey also found a slight discrepancy among the way CEOs and employees view whether or not their customers are shown enough appreciation. Roughly 80% of CEOs felt their company would rank well in terms of showing gratitude towards customers, with just fewer than 70% of employees in agreement.

The good news is that, according to the survey, the majority of CEOs resolved to improve the frequency with which they express of appreciation in their workplace.  

As we embark on a new year of business, let’s all resolve to not just express gratitude, but to share the reasons why we are taking the time to do so, whether it is to an employee, a colleague or a client.