Kira Vermond: Giving thanks, except at work

The turkey is all gone. The good plates are packed away. Giving thanks may have been part of your weekend, but how often do you actually get thanks while on the job?
Unfortunately, receiving a pat on the back at work is rare for a lot of us. Last year, an Australian survey revealed that forty percent of workers feel unappreciated by their employers. Another survey showed that one in five employees never receives any praise at all from the boss.
Recognition at work is really important both for mental health and for the bottom line. It can be as simple as saying thank you, or as complex as sending people on a company cruise. 
But no matter how a company expresses gratitude, recognition improves morale. It builds a supportive workplace. It keeps employees from looking for another job.
In fact, the majority of people who responded to the surveys said if they didn't get enough recognition, they would eventually quit.
There are a bunch of reasons why managers and coworkers can seem pretty stingy when dolling out compliments. They feel that they 're too busy. Or, they worry that if they tell people what a good job they're doing, their own faults will become more glaring. Some managers think, "Why should I thank Rita? Isn't that what her paycheque is for?"
Sure, you don't need to thank people for simply doing their jobs. But you do want to thank them for the times they go above and beyond. That's why it's so important to have a very clear understanding of what the person's job actually is. If you know what the boundaries are, you know when they cross them.
So, what else do managers and coworkers need to know about saying thanks?
For starters, timing is important. Don't wait to offer praise. You can even keep a stack of thank-you cards in your desk. No more excuses of, "I never got a chance to get to the card store."
Or, send a message of thanks by email, and cc the, say, the executive director.
You also want to be sincere. A phony compliment is worse than no compliment at all. And yes, most of us and sniff them out in an instant.
And be specific. Say, "I really liked your ideas at today's meeting."  Not, "Good job."
Finally, recognition needs to be random. If you're the boss, hire a massage therapist and offer spur-of-the-moment hand massages. Or give out "hour off" passes that employees can use when they need an extra break.
A weekly team-building lunch just doesn't cut it. Employees begin to expect the complimentary sandwiches. And soon, what started out as a good idea, turns into a thankless task.