we have to thank our coworkers for coming to work

A reader writes:

I’ve been at a small, 30-person company for a few years now — longer than the pandemic, but well less than a decade. Although this is not my first job, it is my first in this kind of industry. We provide services and education in the social sciences, and our customers may include social workers, therapists, teachers, etc. To paint a picture, we’re usually a pretty emotionally intelligent, vulnerable workplace. I don’t know how much that colors my perspective, or how much I’m getting pulled into toxic norms here.

In the span of about a week, we’ve had four people announce that they’re leaving — more than 10% of the staff, and certainly not the first people to leave so far this year. I’m not going to lie, it hit hard. These people were from several different departments and had been here for anywhere from mere months to several decades. Ths staff is a bit shaken up by it.

Here’s the thing. Every Monday morning we have a staff meeting, and this week, our VP asked us each to take a turn going around in a circle and tell the next person “why you’re happy that they came to work today.” So each of us would say something like, “Trevor, I’m glad you came to work today, because it’s so much easier to fight vampires (not our real work) with you by my side.” And then Trevor would use the same formula to Alucard, and so on.

There was no way to get out of participating, and everyone had to take a turn, including one staff member who had to finish by telling her why she was glad the VP came to work today. The VP thought it was a nice thing to do. My coworkers and I thought it was exhausting for a Monday morning, but we got through it. One person is arguing that it was outright manipulative, but they don’t feel comfortable saying it too loudly.

What do you think? Was this an okay way to start the week? Are we all burnt out and too tired to really appreciate where our VP was coming from, or can I not see the red flag through my rose colored glasses?

Nah, it’s weird. It’s not the most outrageous thing in the world, but it’s eye-rolly and if it becomes a regular thing, it’s worth pushing back on.

The thing that makes more problematic than your run-of-the-mill cheesy ice-breaker is the context that it’s happening in. It sounds like your company’s management knows people are rattled by all the resignations, and maybe are rattled themselves. Instead of looking at what’s actually going on and ways to make people want to stay (which are generally going to be big things like pay, culture, and management), they’re … asking people to thank their coworkers for showing up that day? Not only is that the world’s tiniest band-aid on whatever the problem is, but it also puts the burden of making people feel appreciated on their colleagues when it belongs on management.

If you remove that context, what your VP did would be annoying but pretty minor. In the context you’re in, it carries more weight. If he tries it again, you could say, “If we want people to feel more appreciated, could we open a more substantive conversation about how to do that?”

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. DrSalty*

    There was a period of time when we were really slammed at work and my boss would thank me for not quitting. It made me really uncomfortable. What am I supposed to say to that? I finally asked her politely to stop and explained how it made me feel, so she did. I think it’s worth pushing back if it happens again.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      What am I supposed to say to that?

      The day/night is still young!

      You’ll probably want my sense of humor and a supervisor that can take a joke if you want to try it, though.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I also had a supervisor do this and this was basically my response. “Not yet anyway!” “We’ll see how I’m feeling after this meeting” etc.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I would also accept “Thank you for the reminder; I knew there was something I was forgetting to do today!”

  2. Gerry Keay*

    Honestly this sounds like love bombing. I agree with the coworker who said this is manipulative — love bombing is literally a tactic used by cults!!!

    1. redflagday701*

      The “science of gratitude” is such a thing these days — all the pop psychology about how regularly practicing gratitude leads to greater happiness — that I wonder if it might have been inspired by that. For the record, I can believe there’s something to the idea that, like, writing in a gratitude journal every day is good for your mental health. But that’s very different from this kind of icebreaker. I’ve seen plenty of companies take a decent idea and tweak it to the point it no longer achieves what it’s supposed to (but then still move ahead with it, because so much time has been invested!), and maybe that’s what happened here.

      1. Rara Avis*

        I have a colleague who likes to do a gratitude circle at the end of her meetings, but participation is completely optional — you don’t even have to stay for that part if you’re not feeling it. Most of the time it’s nice to hear the appreciations (which tend to be specific and heartfelt), although there was one time during the heart of remote hell last year when everyone was praising their teams, and I, the lonely capybara trainer in a field of llama and alpaca groomers, only felt worse at the end.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          I see you just introduced the capybara to the AAM roster of South American mammals. Llamas, alpacas, and now capybaras–I love it! :-D

        2. EmKay*

          As a capybara trainer, I assume most of your time is spent chasing off the pelicans who try to eat them? XD

        3. Anonymous Today*

          I love capybaras. They just don’t get enough attention in terms of focus on wildlife. So glad there is another capybara fan out there,

      2. Jopestus*

        Hearing honest gratitude is a great feeling, but what was told in here by OP is pretty far from it. I would be really put off by that and mistrust the ones enacting the policy a lot more than before.

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      Yes. I would be uncomfortable with this too.

      In addition to feeling like this is a manipulation technique on the part of the company, I also would be upset at being pressured to be dishonest. I am a generally forthright person, I genuinely do respect and appreciate my colleagues, and I express that appreciation to them whenever it’s appropriate. But I do NOT want to pretend to appreciate something I don’t care about. Not only is it dishonest and obviously hollow in the moment, I feel like it undermines my reputation for honesty and directness.

      That reputation is very valuable to me – both personally and professionally. It’s very important that when I thank or compliment someone, they know I’m not blowing smoke. It’s equally important that people know I won’t ignore or cover up problems, or pretend things are okay when they’re not.

      1. DiscoUkraine!*

        Seconded. This would feel performative to the point where I couldn’t keep a straight face while doing it.

    3. Your local password resetter*

      I wouldn’t call it outright manipulative yet, since its one instance and might just be a screwup. But it’s not a good look and at least a yellow flag for the leadership.

      1. Gerry Keay*

        OH I had misread and thought this was happening EVERY Monday, which would absolutely put it in the “this is trying to do something to your subconscious” but you’re right that just once is more of a yellow flag than a “your office is full of bees and also they’re in a cult”

    4. Calm Water*

      I think the LW should tell the group her coworkers would make excellent vampire hunters or something equally nonsensical if this continues. At least people might get a giggle out of it.

    5. Anonymous Today*

      Gratitude practice is something you do for yourself. For some reason, we humans tend to focus on the negative. We remember our losses in the stock market and forget our gains. We easily recall slights from 3rd grade and don’t even think about the wonderful person who helped us with algebra. That’s why we need to practice gratitude – because it doesn’t seem to come naturally to us.

      It never ends well when a company attempt to impose something on their employees that is meant to be a personal choice.

      Companies have a responsibility to make sure their employees treat each other with respect. That is different from expecting them to be friends or “like a family” (shudder).

  3. The Original K.*

    Agree with Alison – they’re trying to solve the attrition problem without actually solving it. It’s another version of giving employees a pizza party or swag with the company logo on it when what they really want is better working conditions.

    1. Momma Bear*

      That was my thought, too. This does nothing to actually resolve the problems. I’d push back with some things that would actually make a difference, especially being short handed.

      The petty side of me would be like, “Trevor, thank you for coming to work today and doing this pointless exercise with me. I know it would matter more to you to have flexibility to pick up your kids after school, so I am thankful that you haven’t yet run off screaming.”

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Depending on how close to leaving I might be, I might take the opportunity to preemptively thank the VP for “approving” an across-the-org pay increase, increased budget for more staff, increasing the employer contribution to our retirement and health care premiums, or basically use the opening to get the message out for what WOULD actually help… let them either sputter an excuse or ante-up.

    2. LilyP*

      To be fair, it does sound like this is all very recent (if I’m reading it right the gratitude circle bit has only happened once, during the pre-existing Monday staff meeting), so it’s possible there are larger changes in the works and this is just showing up first because it’s the fastest, simplest, and most visible one. I’d at least ask your boss about it and give it a few more weeks before you conclude that they’re all bark and no bite here.

      1. pancakes*

        Fast and simple yet still not worth doing, because it’s shallow, ill-conceived, and making people uncomfortable. If I was thinking of leaving this workplace I would certainly add it to my list of reasons why.

  4. Dramatic Intent to Flounce*

    As an aside, I love the choice of pseudonyms for this one. And am now imagining Trevor Belmont at one of these weird and offputting mandatory positivity fests.

    … That’d be one way to stop them forever, I suppose.

      1. LunaLena*

        Alucard would have just as much trouble, judging from his “conversations” with his dolls.

        And Sypha would be in the middle, reminding both of them to play nice.

        1. Sandangel*

          It’d be the scene where Alucard is like “It’s a good thing I didn’t kill you, Belmont,” and Trevor replying how it’s good that he didn’t turn Alucard into shoes all over again.

      2. Your local password resetter*

        Thats comedy gold right there. I would happily endure the appreciation round just for that!

      1. HappySnoopy*

        Yes! We’re not really fighting vampires. We just have a bunch of wooden stakes for…fence posts. Yeah, that’s the ticket. And the garlic around. It’s for pizza lunch…um the next goofy thing our management is having us do. We have to make our pizzas as thank yous. Wait It’s almost sun down. Gotta go stake…out the kitchen

        Seriously, Alison is on point on the band aid.

    1. scribblingTiresias*

      The employer would be much more likely to retain employees by placing delicious roast chicken within the walls and encouraging them to punch the walls to get at it.

      Stress relief and health boost? A win-win!

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I just finished watching Hellsing Abridged (massively not safe for work) and imagining the Alucard in that in an office made me laugh.

  5. Lacey*

    Yeah, they want people to know that their work is appreciated – but they’re putting burden on those same people to show that appreciation. And, as Alison points out, it’s like the teeny tiniest way that you could show appreciation.

    1. Underrated Pear*

      This is well put. OP, if your management is usually good and emotionally intelligent, but they continue with this misguided practice, I’d bring it up to them with this framing. I think it nails why people find it “exhausting” rather than uplifting.

      The other problem with it, of course, is that it puts an unspoken threat on everyone else not to quit, because how could you let them team down like that when they need you so much?!? (sarcasm, of course). But this is a trickier thing to bring up to management, because you as an employee probably don’t want to give the impression that you’ve been thinking about quitting. So I think sticking with the above is great.

  6. Smithy*

    I left a much larger organization and a team larger than 30 people about a year ago during what kicked off a number of other departures after me. And a relatively similar meltdown happened there. While it would be easy to poke at the organization and team’s issues, I think it’s incredibly relevant to remember that right now many markets favor employees right now.

    Recruiters are being more proactive and salaries that are available are often higher than what a current employer can necessarily match for the current level of an employee. Add on to that, for many people earlier parts of the pandemic were not good times to look for work/start a new job. So someone who might have looked for a new job a month after COVID started had to put that on hold until a time when they felt ready for another life change.

    I bring up both of these factors to say that you may have the best workplace in the world and still be more vulnerable to staff leaving right now. And while its certainly helpful to be mindful of there being some legitimate reasons for discord, being overly reactionary is not the way to course correct.

  7. Don*

    The thing that is really shit about it is that they foisted it off on the employees. You want me to feel appreciated and more secure at work? Then YOU tell me what you appreciate about my being there. That’ll require you to actually know who I am and what I do for you beyond the most surface level, so maybe that’s too much effort for you. Which is its own message, isn’t it?

    1. oranges*

      This. Everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated for what they do, but it carries so much more weight when it’s someone other than those suffering in the trenches together. Don’t pawn the emotional labor off on other people. YOU, leadership with the power and money to have an impact, YOU DO IT.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Exactly. This kind of peer appreciation just plays into the false guilt people feel over leaving their coworkers “in the lurch” when they get offered a better job.

    3. Evonon*

      EXACTLY!! Also, think of if that time wasted was used more constructively to show appreciation like…letting people leave early or a half day on Friday. Also don’t tell people you appreciate them SHOW THEM

    4. Carol the happy elf*

      Yeah, I don’t feel “appreciated” at work when a boss tells Matt to tell me he loves that I’m here. It’s like when one kid is told to “say sorry” for snatching a toy. As a child, I might have felt vague proro-guilt, but being ordered to say sorry always made those feelings go away.

    5. Kyrielle*

      They not only couldn’t give them any of the actually useful stuff (increased staffing, better pay, any number of things), they *couldn’t or didn’t even give them their own direct gratitude for the love of everything*.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think encouraging a culture of peer-to-peer recognition is great, but it isn’t a substitute for recognition by management, and can’t be something that’s ordered from the top down.

  8. LinuxSystemsGuy*

    I definitely agree with Allison that it’s the kind thing you have to look at the circumstances around it as much as the action itself. In an overall healthy landscape it reads as cute, but maybe a little cheesy. In a landscape where you’re losing people left and right, it comes across as manipulative and creepy.

    1. CalypsoSummer*

      If my workplace actually started doing this, I would be squicked out big-time. It’s almost funny to think about, but the reality? Yeah, no. Just . . . no.

  9. LKW*

    My first boss Max would thank me at the end of the day. I was lowest person on the totem pole and I appreciated it. But if I had to sit and listen to all of the team thanking me one by one… ooof that would be cringe-topia.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      I had a manager at a part time HS job that would always thank me after a shift. I asked her about it one day about it out of curiosity and basically said, “You don’t have to thank me for doing my job, that’s what you are paying me for” She replied with something along the lines of “You know this isn’t a glamorous job, but it’s an important one. I want you to know that I’m thankful you are here and doing the job” (Or something like that, it was a long time ago).

      That’s always kind of stayed with me and is something I try to emulate, because it is true in my case, I am thankful for the team members in my group and as their manager I want them to know it. I don’t say it at the end of every day, but I do say it more often than most IME.

      That said the OP’s experience seems like a platitude and a quick fix so the VP can make themselves feel like they’re doing something. When really the question should be “Why so much turnover in a short time” – It could be totally reasonable and just weird timing or it could be something bigger.
      “What is our current risk for more turnover” and last “What can/should we do to address concerns- pay, environment, workload, etc.”

      1. Middle School Managment*

        I have had a similar conversation with my students. I am one of the first adults most students see on campus, and I greet kids with some variation of “It’s great to have you here today.” At the end of day, I’m one of the last to interact with the whole population, and I give a “Thanks for being here/ I appreciate seeing you today/ etc” comment. I also end every class period with a thanks. Whenever a kid inevitably asks about it (usually by complaining “miss, we have to be here!” I remind them that physically they do, but I want to thank them for being here mentally as well, putting in effort, and working hard. I think the reframing is important, as not enough people get enough recognition.
        That being said, in the LW’s situation, if things are forced, it loses all credibility.

        1. banoffee pie*

          That sounds like a nice thing to do, but as you say, it isn’t forced and the students know that. I used to like it when teachers said stuff like that to us when I was at school.

    2. After 33 years ...*

      I agree that the approach described by LW would be off-putting. However, I do make sure that I thank our custodians when they do my office.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yeah, absolutely! And I try and make it as easy as possible for them by removing any stacks of books or paper from my desk, although it’s not much these days thanks to the pandemic and us going paperless, in theory at least.

  10. e271828*

    This letter chimes with the earlier one in which the CEO had a one-on-one to try to ham-fistedly maneuver the OP, who had stayed out of the drama, into managing the drama for him. It’s management’s job to manage employees, and management’s gratitude to employees for showing up is management’s to express.

    Don’t be manipulated into doing management’s work on top of your own. And don’t identify with your employer; it’s a separate entity from you.

  11. animaniactoo*

    “I appreciate that you came to work today because I like you and because I’m relying on that template that you’re working on. However, I would understand if you didn’t show up for work today because we haven’t gotten a cost-of-living raise in 5 years, and we consistently overcommit to deadlines that aren’t realistic on the day they’re scheduled.”

  12. Properlike*

    Ah, the education field — known for toxic positivity and “self-care (but on your own time, we’re not going to make it something easy for you)!”

  13. Choggy*

    I would really LOVE to know what the VP expected to come from that, I remember our (new at the time, tone-deaf, clueless) director asking us to write up a little appreciation blurb for a coworker, whose name we pulled from a hat. Well, I got my former boss, with whom I have a like/dislike relationship, it’s more like now that they are NOT my manager. Well, I said some things about how she’s so positive (pretty toxic at that), but the best thing about her is that she hired me (which is true). :) I made it very tongue-in-cheek, and thankfully we were never asked to do that again.

  14. PT*

    I worked somewhere where people would thank you for the most basic of things. It drove me nuts.

    “Hey thanks for coming in today!” Uh I am supposed to be in today, it’s not like it’s emergency coverage or overtime or anything. It’s literally my regular job to be here today.

    “Hey thanks for helping out with that llama groom.” That’s my scheduled, regular client who I see every week.

    But after I worked there for awhile I realized the reason I received thank yous over nothing, was that the place was plagued with unreliable employees. If you showed up when you were supposed to, and did what you were supposed to, correctly, you were an outlier. So of course people were thanking you, because in comparison to everyone else, you were doing a fantastic job.

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      I struggled with this so much in my last workplace. They had a digital board where you could post thank yous to folks who went above and beyond, except 90 percent of posts were things like, “Thanks so much to [IT support person] for helping me with the blue screen bug they warned us about! Appreciate you!” and “I just want to shout out [Finance person] for answering my questions about my timesheet. You rock!”

      I always felt like such a grouch because I was like, “Yes, it’s great that they helped you and you felt good about the interaction, but they literally did their job. That wasn’t above or beyond anything, it’s baseline expectation.” But our leadership was “disappointed” when they didn’t see enough people use the thank you board, so everyone just wrote whatever they could so they wouldn’t be the one person not being a “team player”.

      Anyway, all that to say that I totally agree with the folks saying that management needs to actually dig deeper into whatever issues are causing people to leave and they should take more concrete steps to improve employee appreciation if that’s what is wrong. One thousand “forced due to an ice breaker” or “generic Slack shout out” thank yous aren’t going to hold a candle to the one time I actually got pulled aside by a stakeholder and told I do an amazing job and my company is lucky to have me.

    2. Anonym*

      I had a landlord like this. She’d thank me for reporting any kind of issue (leaks, neighbors leaving trash in front of the building, sink not working). We were very easy tenants overall and I would fix things around the place too, but she’d literally thank me profusely for everything, including stuff that I considered complaints. It really confused me for a while, but I realized she’d been burned by bad tenants who just let things fall apart and become catastrophic when they would have been easy fixes at the beginning.

      1. Siege (The other one)*

        Honestly, I work in hospitality, and I kinda do that too… Thanking someone for bringing complaints to me is kinda a defense/deflection mechanism so that’s it’s harder to be mad at me. I do my best to get the complaints taken care of, of course! But you never know how nasty someone is going to get about it. (I’d guess your landlord had to deal with people like that a lot.)

  15. CW*

    Quite honestly I wouldn’t like this because I would be afraid of saying something wrong. Also, as I pointed out in past comments, I am not a social butterfly, so this wouldn’t work well for me.

  16. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    See, I could actually answer these truthfully and earnestly. This is kinda-sorta what happens in a daily standup.

    “Fergus, I’m glad you came to work today because there’s a bug in the teapot database and you’re the only one who can fix it.” “Wakeen, I’m glad you came to work today, because my Story XB-1038 is ready for QA”.

    But of course this is exhausting and serves no real purpose.

    **I** shouldn’t be thanking people for showing up to work. The bosses should – and they way they ought to do that is with compensation & competent management. Not a Leo Buscaglia exercise.

    1. commensally*

      I think managers individually thanking employees for staying can be a useful part of changing work culture – it can also be toxic and manipulative, but I’ve been at a workplace where bad managers did a lot of negative feedback and micromanaging that made employees think they were always on the verge of being forced out, and a proactive campaign of managers turning that around by frequently telling employees that they did want them to stay was an important factor in fixing that.

      It wasn’t the only factor (turnover in management also helped a lot!) but it was an important one. And since then I’ve made an effort to regularly tell people below me in the pecking order that I do appreciate the job they do and I’m glad we have them.

      Employees being forced to tell other employees though – yeah, nope.

  17. HS Teacher*

    The best way to thank me for coming to work is to pay me a fair wage for my work. Anything else is, to me, just blather.

  18. cleverleper*

    Yeah, this is weird. And as others have pointed out, not a meaningful way to boost morale. Side note: Please tell me Trevor the Vampire is a Strongbad reference.

    1. Reba*

      Oh no, they got him!!!

      Thank you for this, but it’s actually from the animated show Castlevania, in which Trevor is a vampire hunter.

      1. Arabella Flynn*

        Castlevania was a video game series first! Trevor Belmont (and a lot of other Belmonts) are vampire hunters, trudging through an endless series of games trying to keep Dracula as dead as possible. Alucard in this context is the of Dracula, and a cranky begrudging ally to the Belmont clan.

  19. John Smith*

    Jeees, what a horror show. In my first “proper” job – a small company totalling 12 staff including 3 directors – one of the directors always said “thanks for today, John” at the end of each day. It was a small and sincere gesture which made me feel valued and it never once sounded like a script or said for the sake of it. Similarly now, one particular manager always calls and days thanks to the duty roster person for the day. He doesn’t have to do so, but is the only manager who does and again, I have a lot of respect for him.

    If anyone asked me why I’m glad my manager came in today, I’d have to answer honestly. I’m not. We’re not. We wish he wouldn’t come in at all and all of us actively avoid him as much as possible. But why am I glad he’s in? Because we can have a laugh at his attempt at management and his pompous rants. Is that a valid reason?

    Even if you’re glad a manager comes in and you want to show appreciation, you do so by doing a good job, or trying your best to. Not by fawning and ass licking.

    Where’s my wine bottle…..

  20. CalypsoSummer*

    “Wakeen, I’m glad you came to work today because it means I can sneak cookies out of your lunch while you’re making copies. Joanne, I’m glad you came to work because, uhhh . . . umm, yeah. Cersa, I’m glad you came to work because it gives Anya someone to pick at besides me. Anya, I’m glad you came to work because you keep Cersa out of my hair. Umm, who have I left out?”

  21. Hiring Mgr*

    I could MAYBE see doing this once in a misguided attempt at team building or something but to have to do this every week with 30 people… how much time is being spent/wasted on this?

  22. Lucious*

    If the best idea leadership has to reduce turnover is forcing the staff to read emotional statements to each other, it’s time for the LW to find better quality leadership at a different employer.

    It’s been said elsewhere, but I’ll make the point here that changing economic times has empowered people to act on job changes long overdue. The toxic and incompetent leaders left with understaffed departments & companies react to it as they do most things – with denial, and spin. I wonder how the Texas company that billed its staff their government stimulus checks is faring now……

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I did that. (I’ve found it causes confusion if I don’t — not like anyone would think it was her real job, but some people get confused about why it’s there. Also it amuses me.)

      1. WFH with Cat*

        But … what if it really *is* what they do? Maybe the LW wants us to know! The Truth will out, Alison!!


      2. Rav*

        […] it amuses me.

        I had a boss that loved to use a variation of this phrase. He reserved it for situations where the decision wasn’t really important nor crucial to anything. (Like, “why use red folders instead of blue?” “I just like red better”.)

        1. Sleepless*

          Reminds me of the long-ago episode of ER when the nurses had a meeting and they finally might get to order scrubs in a color besides peach, and Carol said, “OK, give me your color ideas, and I’ll go with what the majority wants. Unless I hate it.” I mean…why not?

  23. Lexi Lynn*

    We used to have something like this at an old job and it worked pretty well. On Fridays, everyone available would gather in the breakroom and the admin would read out thanks that had been submitted to her (I’m so grateful for Fergus because she fed my llana while I was out).

    Fergus got a $5 gift card and everyone who dropped by got first pick of the bagels or donuts. So free food kept people motivated to participate and it was a fun 10 minutes out of the week.

    1. Chaordic One*

      In my current job we are paid well, but management fails to even make any effort to, let alone actually, address the structural and bureaucratic problems that make our jobs so much more difficult than they need to be. They fail to advocate FOR their employees and, instead, just dump more work on us. And then they wonder why their “thanks” fall flat and their employees are antagonized by them.

    2. That didn't go how I thought it would*

      Nah, because if you pay people more, then the grand/bosses make LESS.

      It’s adorable, I was called into a bigger boss office than I’m used to be being in and presented with “we know you’ve been working hard lately and we want to thank you with a raise.” The kicker? Everyone in the company is scheduled to get a raise every 6 months for the next 1-2 years until they reach a specific amount based on their level/rank. I’m now getting what I would have gotten if I put my feet up and sat back and waited for a year to pass. I’m sure it’s still below industry standard, as we just hired someone who barely worked for us for two weeks before he put in his two weeks as some other place offered him more.

  24. Suzy Q*

    I am at an age and level of experience that I would’ve called out that nonsense as it was happening.

  25. Mannheim Steamroller*

    Each person should say, in turn…

    “I’m glad you came in today, because if you hadn’t, I’d be talking to an empty chair.”

    1. Sleepless*

      “I’m glad you came in today because a whole bunch of my tasks physically take two people to do, and if you weren’t here, I’d be doing the equivalent of sweeping when I can’t hold the dustpan.”

    2. Lucy Skywalker*

      That reminds of that old Neil Diamond song, “I am, I said, to no one there. And no one heard at all, not even the chair.”

  26. Purple Cat*

    Totally dying over the parenthetical “not our real work”. It might be better if fighting vampires really WAS your work, so you could get rid of some of your rage over this by staking them!
    This is ridiculous, and completely tone-deaf. It goes along with the toxic positivity of the letter writer from the other day.
    “Thanking” coworkers isn’t going to get them to continue coming to work every day if something is broken in the rest of the organization/environment.

  27. ecnaseener*

    I have to laugh at the logic behind this. If I’m unhappy at work and looking to leave, these guys really think I’m going to change my mind because Random Coworker To My Left makes a stilted little speech about being glad I’m there?

  28. Keyboard Jockey*

    > fight vampires (not our real work)
    This disclaimer absolutely made me lose it. I would highly recommend thanking your coworkers for fighting vampires next time you have to do this ridiculous exercise. Even more fun if you can loop multiple coworkers in on the gag.

  29. Egmont Apostrophe*

    “There was no way to get out of participating”

    Christ, I’d have faked an attack of explosive diarrhea.

  30. Lab Boss*

    “I’m glad you came in today because you can confirm to my friends that we really spent time on this ridiculousness.”

  31. Happily Retired*

    I can’t help but wonder – is there a site called askanidiotmanager.org?

    In my working years, we would be confronted with wacko activities like this by managers beaming with parental pride. All we could figure out is that they had gone to a training or subscribed to an email that specialized in illogical and generally offensive managerial techniques.

    1. banoffee pie*

      Somebody could start one and go into deep cover as a clueless manager, keeping it just sensible enough so that no one knew if it was all a joke or real…Don’t they say the best satire is indistinguishable from reality?

  32. Ashkela*

    I mean, it’s also November and positivity police want to make sure we talk openly about how grateful we are for… everything.

  33. chicken fried steak*

    I used to have this job where every day the manager did this weirdly wistful “thanks for everything…” at the end of every shift. Always felt incredibly weird. Also they laid me off shortly after that.

  34. raincoaster*

    I remember working for a prominent coffee company that was ADDICTED to new management initiatives every few months. Once, they got on the positivity train and mandated that literally every piece of information we conveyed to our fellow workers had to “maintain and enhance self-esteem.” Including firing people. Including the time someone was conveyed out of the store in handcuffs for stealing tens of thousands of dollars. The time we fired a girl for faking cancer (oh wait, we didn’t fire her; we thought “motivating” her would change things. Guess how that ended?)

    We’d spend hours mocking the policy. “Partner Emilio, would you please pour me a tall #2 in that ineffable way that you do. Everyone admires it. Why, I’m sure I saw it mentioned on the Beard awards.” Eventually it went away, but it was exhausting.

    Eventually someone at your meeting will thank the next person for being there “So I don’t have to go through this ridiculous charade alone” and then there will be a big huff, and it’ll be gone the next day.

  35. Disengaged Employee of the Month*

    Here’s the thing. Nobody who is at risk of leaving is going to be persuaded to stay by this tactic, and I guarantee that the tactic is pushing people who might have been on the margins to more actively be ready to leave. But then, management always loves to take the easy action that not only costs no money, but also puts all the burden of effort on the employees they claim they’re trying to retain.

    Last year, my employer did the annual anonymous employee engagement survey and got torn UP, mostly over pay and lack of management vision, but also got the usual baseline complaints about recognition and teamwork. Guess which thing management decided to take action on? That’s right, now we have to report our own birthdays and anniversaries and submit photos of our meals and such nonsense, and one a month there’s an all staff meeting where the GM reads it all out loud. Problem solved, right?

  36. 36Cupcakes*

    My old manager use to thank me everyday for all the help/work I did as I was saying good night. He genuinely meant it. He also backed it up with frequent bonuses & flexibility.

    This is not that. This would honestly make me want to quit because it feels so fake.

  37. A Teacher*

    I have participated in 2 or 3 versions of this in a field related to vampire slaying (also amused me!). Once it was led by someone folx truly loved. It’s unfortunately not so uncommon in education, because building leadership has so little control over most of the big things mentioned here (salary, benefits, time off, etc). They can do a lot in terms of environment, and good leaders are amazing to work for and can have a huge impact on quality of life. But even the best leader couldn’t prevent the issues educators are facing right now, because so little of it is within their control.

    1. Saint Germaine*

      100+ points for the excellent Castlevania use!

      Again, Allison’s advice is spot on. We do something similar at our job, but it’s voluntary. People don’t have to provide a “shout out” if they don’t want to.

  38. Ricama*

    I wonder if the VP thinks this will help you feel more appreciated at work. I mean I know it suppose to come from management but that doesn’t mean the VP does.

  39. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    For some reason, this reminded me of the signs that some business owners have been putting up complaining about how “nobody wants to work anymore.” Particularly the version that asks customers to be nice to the staff “who actually showed up.”

    I’m not saying that management at your work has these attitudes, just that it reminded me of this, which added to how off-putting I found it.

  40. Avril Ludgateau*

    I have a manager who is constantly, dare I say obsequiously, thanking us just for doing our jobs. She probably means well, but she also gets indignant when people dare to work for money rather than passion. She’s “fired” (i.e. “not renewed the contracts of”) individuals who dared to attempt negotiation of a fair wage. (Context: We are all underpaid, especially for our region, even within the same sector. One time an interviewing contractor was asking for more – still below market wage – compared to the offer, and this manager privately complained that “most of our employees don’t even make that much”, as if it had been audacious for the applicant to ask that, rather than that the employees needed to be better compensated…)

    It’s actually had the opposite effect on me: I find it very demoralizing to be gratuitously thanked for every small thing I do, things that are part of my job description, even things that are outside my job description or are done exceptionally well, because it is so constant it has become perfunctory and empty, like noise… Frankly, I come at it from the perspective that the proper way to express gratitude for productivity is remuneration. At the end of the day, I work to live, and the conversion rate of thank yous to dollars is… Well, there isn’t one. I simply can’t pay my mortgage with compliments.

    This also reminds me of a job at the start of my career that I had tried to forget, at a small company where literally every morning, we spent the first half hour to hour of the day having a full staff meeting, and one of the requirements was to go around and express gratitude. Every. Single. Morning. I burnt out insanely quickly (I’m talking months, not even a year) and I had to spend a long time “recovering”, thinking that I was the problem, that I wasn’t cut out for real work, that I was an abject, irredeemable failure. The burnout wasn’t solely because of the thank-you meetings, by the by, but they certainly had a profound influence. I thought something was wrong with me for not being grateful, and it chipped away my sense of self-worth.

    To bring this back to the LW: most of the time people leave jobs, it is because of poor compensation relative to work, and/or poor management. I would wager that, together, these two reasons combined make up 2/3rds of voluntary resignations, at least. Poor compensation and poor management are both top-down issues, but management in LW’s case seems determined to force a bottom-up solution, either because they can’t or don’t want to make the necessary changes. (Or, worse, maybe they don’t want to acknowledge the issues!) You can’t thank your way out of this scenario, though, and if I am in any way reflective of “the average worker,” then this organization is only going to suffer more demoralized or disgruntled workers, manifesting as productivity loss and resignations, until they finally step up and address the problem in a meaningful way.

    Are they conducting exit interviews, I wonder? And if they are, are people comfortable being honest, and is management willing to take criticism to heart?

  41. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    Hmm, I’d be tempted to get everyone to say something outrageous, starting with “Fergus I’m so glad to see you, I’m hoping we can get some duck club points in after this meeting”, with Fergus then turning to Jane and saying “Jane I’m so glad to see you, I’m hoping you’ll join me and Rebel for threesome duck club points after this meeting” and so on until the VP’s eyebrows have scrunched right up to his hairline.

  42. EmKay*

    “because it’s so much easier to fight vampires (not our real work)”

    I am irrationally disappointed by the note in the parentheses here.

  43. Patrick*

    Just got to say I don’t know if it’s Allison or OP but whoever did the castlevania references, great job.

  44. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    I am a group therapy leader in a support group for women with (or who’ve had) cancer. Each program lasts eight weeks, and this is how we close our final session together.

    So, yeahhhhhh. Doing what we do in a support group to close an incredibly emotional two months together is *probably* not appropriate at work. Like at all.

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