How can a CEO show gratitude in a time of social distancing? On social media, says Brunswick’s Craig Mullaney.
The benefits of expressing gratitude, according to decades of research, are as extensive as they are measurable: Employees’ mental health, decision-making, and productivity all improve (so do employee engagement, retention, resilience ...)
Yet leaders today find themselves in a curious position as they try to realize those benefits. On the one hand, they are brimming with reasons to express gratitude—the stress and uncertainty of a pandemic has produced so many small acts of heroism, sacrifice, and contribution. However, executives can’t deliver those thank-you’s face-to-face—a manner many not only prefer, but are better practiced at.
Replicating in-person engagements with video meetings isn’t sustainable or scalable, which is why a growing number of executives are using social platforms like LinkedIn or Instagram to praise, recognize, and thank employees.
What these platforms lack in familiarity (at least for some executives), they compensate for with efficacy. Social posts can reach any employee with a smartphone and are designed to convey a level of humanity often missing from emails. Rather than being straightjacketed by plain text, executives can post a photo with a short caption, or share a brief handheld video—and do so in less time than it would take to draft an email.
It’s better for those on the receiving end, as well: Would you rather have your boss talk about the great job you did in a private email, or in a post your colleagues—and thousands of other connections—could see?
Encouraging engagement requires a leader to post consistently—gratitude, appreciation, and recognition are safe, effective topics for executives to regularly write about. To prevent those posts from becoming formulaic, they can be tied to an event—Thanksgiving, an earnings announcement, a product milestone—or interwoven into separate posts. An ideal post conveys a connection with the person or team being thanked—whether that’s a photo of the executive with them, or a brief but memorable story in the caption.