by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

One of our most shared articles is about the health benefits of being nice; saying thank you is part of this. So whenever I make a face-to-face purchase I always say thank you to the person taking my money. Usually they say it first, but occasionally after I’ve thanked them. On rarer occasions, there’s no response at all. In that situation I just stand there, waiting. After a few seconds, and possibly an incredulous look, I’ll get “thank you,” or even “you’re welcome,” which is good enough for me.


Now before you think I’m some relic from the past, when manners mattered, or just some curmudgeonly geezer (I am), let’s examine what “thank you” really says. It’s an acknowledgment that someone has done something for you (in this case made a purchase, which allows you to have a job). If done sincerely, with eye-to-eye contact and a smile, it’s also a brief emotional connection with another human being. It recognizes the giver as a person, not a vending machine or shopping cart on a website. In that instant, it tells them they matter.


Thank Yous Make Us Feel Good

At Health Enhancement Systems, we have the enviable task of reading thousands of participant comments every year in response to the question: What did you like most about the wellness campaign? In most instances, participants highlight something that really worked well for them — the motivation of being accountable to their coworkers, seeing their progress toward health goals, daily tips, and interactive games that make learning and doing fun.


But occasionally, someone will write a heartfelt thank you in great detail, highlighting how the program made a profound difference not only for their health, but in their life. In those cases we make a point to share the comment with everyone in the company. It’s a highlight of the day. I’m convinced it’s the thing above all others — salary, benefits, perks, office lunches, Halloween parties, touch football games, and the occasional happy hour — that engenders loyalty and commitment to our mission. It’s the reason our developers will pull an all-nighter to meet a deadline, an online account manager will check in on her clients while on vacation, and our office manager will take her laptop home on a Sunday to be sure she’s prepared for the week.


Thank You for Participating in Our Wellness Program

If you’ve been at wellness for a while, you know that changing health behaviors is hard — for individuals and populations. People fail more often than they succeed at the start. But if you can keep them engaged and returning for more, eventually they have a real shot at changing eating, activity, sleeping, or stress patterns for good. Thank yous go a long way toward keeping them coming back.


A thoughtful thank you acknowledges the significant effort required to change a habit that’s been years or decades in the making. It confirms that the participant isn’t alone in their efforts to do more and be more for themselves, their family, and their employer. Most important, it says you care about them as a person, not as a data point in the never-ending quest for a favorable ROI.


As much of the wellness industry shifts to a transaction-based activity (do this, get that) with cash-based incentives/disincentives tied to participation, progress, or — worst of all — outcomes, consider how the simple thank you can inspire. Keep them coming back for more until they discover the intrinsic motivation necessary for permanent behavior change.


Our Thank You to Readers and Customers

As 2013 shifts into full gear, I want to thank the readers of our newsletters and blog. Thank you for comments, praise, and criticism. Thank you for sharing articles with colleagues, passing along our white papers, and telling other wellness professionals about our services. Thank you for your business. Your support and patronage allow us — some 20 years into it — not only to make a living, but also live a life of helping others be well. What could be better than that?


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