In the spirit of gratitude, businesses are discovering the immense power of small gestures to boost employee engagement. A recent survey by British Gas, involving 2,000 employees, uncovered heartwarming insights into the little things that make a big impact on the workplace atmosphere.


Surprisingly, a simple ‘thank you’ from a manager emerged as the top gesture that brightens up an employee’s day.

Additionally, expressions of gratitude from customers or clients, a ‘pat on the back’ for exemplary work, and colleagues offering help, even when busy, were highlighted as key elements of appreciation.

The top 10 gestures that resonate with employees also include the flexibility to finish early for family commitments, a thoughtful offer to make a cup of tea or coffee, birthday celebrations, colleagues stepping in to assist with workload, complimentary lunches and breakfasts, and active participation in team activities.

The heartening news is that a whopping 84% of respondents acknowledged that such actions make them feel valued, with 61% reporting improved performance as a direct result. However, it’s disheartening to learn that a third (33%) of UK employees feel undervalued at work, prompting one-fifth to consider a career change in the upcoming year.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director and co-founder of consultancy 10Eighty, expressed concern over this trend, emphasising that employers could significantly benefit from paying more attention to the employee experience. Recognition, in the form of a simple ‘thank you,’ goes a long way in fostering a sense of belonging, community, and fulfilment among employees.

Acknowledging employees’ contributions not only enhances their connection with leaders but also leads to above-average engagement, making them more likely to stay in their roles. Sebag-Montefiore suggests that a pat on the back, a cost-free gesture with a little thought, can make a substantial difference. She emphasises that employees value development opportunities, and there are affordable avenues to facilitate this.


The survey reveals that the average employee experiences these gestures twice a week, with 1 in 10 reporting that the positive feelings can last an entire day.


Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, emphasises the natural positive reaction employees have to feedback and underscores the importance of making them feel valued within the organisation. How feedback is delivered may vary, but Price stresses that regardless of the form it takes, expressing appreciation helps employees feel respected and valued.

Kate Palmer, HR director at Peninsula, suggests employee surveys or town hall sessions to directly gather feedback and obtain insights into workplace sentiments. Palmer emphasises that incentives and prizes can be effective, but nothing beats the value of a simple thank you for a job well done.

In conclusion, businesses are encouraged to embed a culture of appreciation into the daily fabric of the workplace. Gemma Bullivant, HR coach and consultant, underscores the pivotal role of HR in supporting managers to recognize and acknowledge their teams effectively. Training on the importance of regular, authentic appreciation and creating platforms for peer-to-peer recognition contribute to a workplace where everyone feels valued. Let’s make gratitude a cornerstone of our workplaces, ensuring that every small act of appreciation creates a ripple effect of positivity.