Saying thank you in 2020 – why you shouldn’t follow the same-old-same festive message formula
With the year rapidly drawing to a close, this is typically the time when companies and managers pause to say thank you to their teams before the festive season break.
But nothing about 2020 has been a typical year and therefore your festive season message shouldn’t be a typical ‘thank you and enjoy the holidays’ type message either.
Why thank yous matter
Before we jump into what you should think of as you prepare your end-of-year message, it is worthwhile to reflect on why it matters that we recognise other people’s efforts and say thank you in the workplace.
Studies show that when people express gratitude they experience more positive emotions. These positive feelings lead to improved health, help people deal with adversity better and form stronger connections with others.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School also found that when managers thank teams for the work they are doing it has a measurable and positive effect on team member effort.
Saying thank you not only benefits the recipient, but also the person expressing gratitude and those who witness an act of gratitude according to a study by researchers from the University of North Carolina.
Simply put, saying thank you is good for our health and happiness and helps us to build trust in our teams and connect with others.
And if you are still not convinced about the merits of a thank you note, consider this: Research published in the journal Psychological Science shows that people regularly underestimate the powerful impact of expressing thanks and overestimate the awkwardness it may lead to.
Rethinking the message after a year of change
How we work, when we work and where we work has changed for many employees around the world. The shift to remote working demands a more deliberate focus on how we communicate and build connection and trust in a low- and no-touch environment.
The unique home and work situation of every employee means that hybrid-working and working from home have impacted employees in different ways. For some it may have meant feeling more isolated and alone, for others, the demands of family life and parenting may have exponentially added to their workload and worries.
Coupled with the uncertainty of change and in some cases the sense of loss that accompanies retrenchments, salary cuts and other disruptions, 2020 has taken a significant mental and emotional toll on people. A report released by Glint in October 2020 showed that employee burnout had reached a new high, with no signs of an easing soon.
In and among all these changes, we’ve also seen a new level of authenticity and realness coming through in our work interactions and how we communicate. This is after all the year in which we invited each other into our homes through Zoom and Teams meetings with occasional interruptions from family members and adoring pets.
All of these changes and many more, require leaders to show up differently when it comes to their end-of-year messages and especially in how they thank their teams for their efforts.
Top tips in crafting your message
Whether intended for one person, a team or a whole company of employees keep the following points in mind as you plan your message:
- Be real, authentic and relatable – after a year of funny hats for virtual team meetings and webcasts from your home, an overly formal message may come across as out-of-touch or insincere.
- Connect to the big picture and build a shared sense of purpose – remind people of what you set out to achieve as a team and why it matters. Celebrate how people lived your company’s values and purpose.
- Be specific in saying thank you – avoid broad statements of thanks and aim to include specific examples of what you are grateful for. This signals to people that you notice the detail and care about their efforts.
- Strike a balance – don’t gloss over what was challenging and hard but remember to balance your message with hope and encouragement for the future.
- Make it personal and offer of yourself – share from your personal experiences, the hopes you hold for the future or the things that have brought you joy. Giving of yourself helps to build trust and rapport.
Whether you are delivering your message via video, email or a handwritten note, following these simple tips can help you craft a message that brings to a close a very untypical year and helps to prepare the ground for a fresh start after the holidays.
Video is powerful and important communication tool for any leader. Follow the easy steps in this downloadable quick guide to create videos that help deliver your leadership message.