Each of us spends a significant portion of our days at work, and consequently, around our coworkers. And because team members spend so much time together, they've often privy to relatively small details and actions -- both positive and negative -- that others more removed from the environment might miss.
If you are fortunate enough to be a part of an efficient, effective, and genial team, odds are you'll regularly have cause and the desire to thank your colleagues for actions both big and small. The usual suspects for showing gratitude -- cards, cakes, and "thank you" notes -- are all solid options. But in case you want your acknowledgement to stand out, consider using one of the following ideas.
(Does your coworker like pranks more than thanks? In that case, check out this post on the 31 best office pranks, and start strategizing.)
9 Unique Ways to Thank Your Coworkers
1) Do their dirty work.
Everyone has at least one task at work that they simply can't stand. Maybe it's data entry. It might be conducting a training or some other type of public speaking activity. Perhaps analytics make your colleague's skin crawl.
Whatever your coworker's least favorite duty may be, offer to relieve them of it for a day or two as a way of showing your appreciation. Not only will this simple gesture improve their mood, it'll also free up some of their time to do even more awesome stuff. Win for them, and win for the team as a whole.
2) Thank their manager.
Managers are busy people, and depending on how many people they have reporting to them, they might not see everything each direct report does in a given day or week.
With this in mind, one of the best ways to thank a remarkable coworker is to pass the thanks directly to their manager. Write an email calling out their remarkable deed, and make it known that this person's impact is felt across the team. Then simply let your colleague know that you've tooted their horn for them, so they don't have to.
3) Save them time.
New time-saving apps for virtually every type of task or profession seem to pop up every day. The only problem: because there are so many, it can take a considerable amount of time to vet them and identify the best. Oh, the irony.
If you know that your coworker struggles with a particularly time-consuming task, do the research on their behalf and find them an app, hack, or helpful tip that can shave hours off their day. Enabling your colleague to become more efficient in their day-to-day truly is a gift that keeps on giving. Don't be surprised if there are tears of joy.
4) Broaden their horizons.
One of the best ways for professionals to progress in their careers is to learn and apply new skills. So if your coworker has been kicking serious ass at their job, thank them by gifting a subscription to a learning platform, such as Lynda.com (a database chock-full of expert-led video tutorials on subjects like design, business basics, web development) or SkillShare (virtual classes on marketing, technology, writing, and more facilitated by everyday folk).
Besides helping them to broaden their horizons, this acknowledgment gift also carries a meaningful message: I believe in you, and want to see you go far.
5) Back them up.
We've all been there -- that awkward moment when you throw an idea out in a meeting, and no one says anything. Eyes are diverted. Throats are cleared. Clocks are glanced at. RIP: your idea.
If this happens to a coworker who has had your back time and again, thank them by returning the favor and taking their side when the chips are down. Now, this is not to say that you should agree with them -- especially if you truly don't think their idea or argument is correct. But a simple validation, such as "interesting perspective," or "thanks for sharing that" will make it clear you support them -- even when no one else does.
6) Help them meet their goals.
Regardless of what specific work you do, each of us is responsible for some type of deliverable that we must source, create, or otherwise fulfill upon. For example, a salesperson must find and sign new customers for their company. Recruiters are tasked with identifying high-potential job candidates. Marketers have to craft compelling copy for blog posts, websites, and landing pages.
Want to thank your coworker? Help them meet their goal. If you know they're having a tough time finding prospects or job candidates, provide a referral. If they're in the midst of writer's block, send some stellar writing along for inspiration. Ask them how you can help, and do it.
7) Make an introduction.
Your coworker is awesome, and you know it. So shouldn't others know it as well?
If you're connected to influential people either internal or external to your company that it would benefit your colleague to know, make an introduction. Nothing says "thank you" quite like a new mentor or an opened door.
To write a killer email introduction, keep the following tips in mind as your craft your message:
Consider doing a double opt-in introduction (check out this post to learn how).
Provide context around why you're making the introduction now. For example, "Mary -- Joe just completed an interesting project on X. Since we were recently chatting about ways to improve X, I thought you two should talk."
Clearly explain why each person would benefit from knowing the other. For example, "Mary, Joe brings a fresh perspective on X that you might find valuable. Joe, Mary has a lot of experience with X, and she can give you insight into how your ideas fit into the broader strategy."
Include any personal commonalities as fodder for starting a conversation.
Add links to both parties' LinkedIn profiles.
Would a LinkedIn introduction be more appropriate? No problem. To make an introduction on LinkedIn, simply click the "send message" button on your coworker's profile, click "add others to this message," and pop in the second party's name. Voilà!
8) Provide a shoulder.
No matter how much you love your job, everyone has frustrating days. Let's say your coworker has been heading up a project that's more involved than most -- and doing a superb job. But then something goes awry, and it's all hands on deck for a number of days. Is your coworker stressed? Undoubtedly.
Instead of forcing them to grin and bear the situation all on their own, approach your colleague and offer your ear for a judgment-free vent session. Your coworker will feel much better for getting the chance to unload some frustrations, and the empathetic gesture will strengthen the bond between you.
9) Write a LinkedIn recommendation.
LinkedIn is lousy with recruiters, and with this in mind, writing a recommendation for an exemplary colleague can go a long way to helping them achieve their ultimate career aspirations. Your words will provide proof of their awesomeness for all 400 million LinkedIn members to see. I think it's safe to say that after writing a beautifully worded and overwhelmingly positive recommendation, you can consider them thanked.
A heartfelt "thank you" is nice, but its effects last for a few hours at most. The best forms of acknowledgment better a person's life in a significant and long-lasting way. Thank your coworker in one of these nine ways, and watch their performance soar.
How do you thank your coworkers? Share your ideas and tips below.
Originally published Mar 11, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017