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A guide to writing thoughtful thank-you messages to your employees

Rachel Argot
6/24/22 9:00 AM

If writing a thank-you message to your employee feels like a chore, imagine how it feels to receive it. These messages should encourage and inspire your employees, not bring on a hard eye roll. Generic, tired, or standard greetings can easily miss the mark, leaving employees feeling less appreciated. 

Some employers have difficulty expressing genuine thoughts and sentiments within a professional workplace. However, it only takes a little creativity and a few laughs to make a good example of an employee's great work. These messages should be fun; you don't have to be a published author or part-time comedian to write one, though it may help. 

Here are some rules and reminders to consider when writing your next thank-you message.

Use their name

We know rewarding and recognizing your employees can be so thrilling at times, but don't let the excitement distract you from the most important, overlooked detail: Their name. 

"Our Valued Employee" is an automated filler, and your employees notice. Or worse, they don't notice at all! Even the most thoughtful, curated messages go underappreciated when not properly addressed. Because it's the first thing your employees see, arbitrary naming functions make your entire message appear computer-generated and mechanical- which usually means that it is.

If you think your recognition software will automatically populate the employee's name when tagging or direct messaging, triple-check! And then triple-check again. Doing so ensures you are sending the message to the right employee. 

However, most employees have to use their full, legal name when providing personal information to HR or other legal documentation. Some programs use these files for reference, and many recognition platforms use the documented legal name rather than their preferred one. Change this immediately and make a note to edit internally, if possible. 

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Encourage your employee to read the full message by using their full name. Better yet, if the employee has a consented, appropriate nickname used and heard around the office, use that!  

Talk normal

Your employee should be able to hear your in-person voice through their on-screen message. Try not to use generic phrases. "Keep up the great work!" is "Our Valued Employee" eviler step-sister, and you should avoid this and similar expressions.

These common phrases are a great way to end a note, but make sure you customize the full message to each job well done. Be specific. Use your voice. Most new-age SaaS platforms, like Slack, are specifically designed to encourage the use of emojis, memes, and other informal means of communication. So get comfortable with casual conversation and develop your own digital writing style that you can implement into your thank-you messages. 

Be on time

Recognition given a day too late has less impact than one given right away. Employees are more likely to respond well and engage again if they are acknowledged when they've done something proactive. On the other hand, if too much time has passed, the sentiment is gone. The employee loses motivation to repeat the action thinking it has gone unnoticed.   


The work and the behavior

With those three things in mind, you can start constructing your message. These messages shouldn't take long to draft, but put in more effort where you lack time.  There are two important things to address within any recognition message: The actual work and the employee's behavior. 


The work: Address what exactly the employee did that made an impact. Was the job special in quality, quantity, or rarity? What was it about the work that made it impressive? 

  • Employee scheduled and organized marketing content for the next six months
  • Employee created a pitch deck with outstanding design and editing
  • Employee landed a contract deal with a high-stake client 

The behavior: Address how the employee responded to the work. Did they complete an assignment before being asked? Did they help out with a project that wasn't their responsibility? Assess and assign valued soft skills to the task completed.

  • Initiative
  • Adaptability
  • Communication
  • Digital literacy
  • Time management 

If celebrating publicly, make sure to include details on how this employee made other people's jobs easier. This promotes peer-to-peer recognition and reminds employees that even solo projects can boost productivity for all departments. 


Here are two sample messages using our formula:

The work: A customized pitch deck (quality)

The behavior: Adaptability + time management

Your attention to detail and dedication has elevated this company. The pitch you made for our Client was incredible- especially on that tight turnaround. They really appreciated the customized branding. I can't wait to see more of your magic!


The work: All reports for the quarter (quantity)

The behavior: Initiative + communication

Thank you for helping me organize all the reports for last quarter. You threw me a lifesaver when I didn't even know I was drowning! Thanks for stepping up. Let me know if you need any edits on your stats for next month, and I'd be happy to help!


The best kind of writing is genuine. To give employees the recognition that makes noticeable improvements in the workplace, take time to write thoughtful, personalized messages.

Check out our recognition and rewards platform which provides organizations of all sizes with simple, customizable solutions to engage and inspire employees to perform their best.

See our pricing or talk to one of our experts today.

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