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Focus On Retention

Praise With Punch: Why More Than a Thank You Matters

In an industry known for high turnover rates, employee retention is an ongoing goal and challenge for most companies. While many health and fitness professionals are still counting on paychecks and benefits to define their level of job satisfaction, research shows us that more employees are also looking for an employer who fosters a team atmosphere, assigns value to all employees and provides consistent acknowledgement of a job well done.

One of the easiest ways for supervisors to influence employee retention positively is to provide meaningful praise to employees who demonstrate consistent performance. The power of praise is compounded when it's delivered in a timely and creative manner.

Saying “thank you” to employees who exceed your expectations is a good start, but clearly outlining the reasons why they deserve thanks is invaluable. Saying “great job” is a nice effort, but explaining why the accomplishment was great is a much better way to acknowledge employee performance.

“Praise With Punch” is not hard to implement nor is it expensive. It is a simple retention concept that works best when it's genuine.

The key to delivering “Praise With Punch” is threefold:

Make It Timely

As soon as you notice something worth praising, praise it! Make this praise a priority. Waiting too long to say “thank you” or “good job” can deflate the meaning of the praise faster than a puncture wound can deflate a Resist-A-Ball. Timely recognition is crucial; a “thank you” given after the fact can often seem forced rather than sincere.

Be Creative

A verbal acknowledgement of a job well done is always nice; however, a little creativity can go a long way to strengthen the relationship you have with your employee(s). Try handwriting a greeting card or creating a certificate of recognition. How about sending an e-mail greeting card? Take it a step further by including a $5 gift certificate for lunch. A pair of discounted movie tickets or a complimentary massage with your on-site massage therapist is a terrific touch if you have the budget.

For those without money to spend, consider mentioning the accomplishments of your employee to the company's senior management. Request that a member of the senior management team call the employee to congratulate her efforts and loyalty to the company mission. Whatever the situation, there is a unique way within your capabilities to do more than just say “thank you.”

Use Description

This recommendation is by far the most important. “Thank you” on its own is just a pair of words that are easily spoken and soon forgotten.

What are you thankful for? What made you want to say “thank you” in the first place? Was it the way your employee exceeded your expectations? Was it the way she saved the day by being extra flexible with scheduling? Was it because she stayed after work three nights in a row to put the final touches on the health fair poster? Maybe you want to say “thank you” because your entry-level employee noticed a conflict in the appointment book and took the initiative to straighten things out before a problem occurred.

Whatever reasons you have to deliver praise, be specific about what it is. For example: “Marissa, I wanted to send you a quick thank you for putting so much effort into the incentive program flyers you designed. They were really eye-catching! I especially liked the colorful formatting and layout design. You have exceeded my expectations again!” If given a choice between receiving similar words or a quickly stated “thank you,” which would make you feel more valued?

The concept of “Praise With Punch” is not difficult to grasp. It is simply an old idea with new flair. It is easy to implement, inexpensive and limitless.

When used by managers consistently, “Praise With Punch” becomes a powerful retention initiative. It fosters growth and development, and instills in employees of all levels a sense of contribution and value. Supervisor/employee relationships are strengthened and company loyalty is kindled. Considering all of the benefits of delivering “Praise With Punch” and the ease at which is can be implemented, what are you waiting for?

Michelle Warren is a regional supervisor for L&T Health and Fitness, a provider of promotion services. She can be contacted at or (480) 713-0871.

The Benefits of Praising Employees

  • It builds employee confidence.
  • It strengthens a club's internal relationships.
  • It improves morale.
  • It stimulates employees' sense of value.
  • It fosters company loyalty.
  • It can impact company “buy-in.”
  • It makes employees feel needed.

Creative Praise

  • Send a greeting card
  • Send an e-greeting card/animated stationery
  • Purchase and give discounted movie tickets
  • Give away a free lunch
  • Purchase and distribute small gift certificates
  • Customize a certificate of accomplishment
  • Give away a coupon good for one hour of “free time”
  • Send a letter of accomplishment to senior management
  • Announce “employee of the month” to members and staff
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