Saying "thank you" for a job well done is common courtesy and good management practice. But as far as most employees are concerned, it is no substitute for proper rewards such as more money or career progression.
Managers too often think praise is a credible substitute for more money when it comes to motivating workers, a U.S study has concluded.
The research by Sirota Survey Intelligence identified six of the most common misconceptions in the workplace, with praise acting as a substitute for more money topping the list.
The next biggest misconception, according to the poll of 150 HR managers, was the belief that immediate managers were more often than not the cause of most employees' problems.
Almost two thirds of those polled believed these myths to be "fact", said Sirota.
Another common misconception was believing that employees who complained about pay were really unhappy about something else.
Similarly, more than two thirds of managers – wrongly, said Sirota – believed there were major differences between generations in what people wanted from their jobs.
Just under two thirds felt there were, in the same way, major differences between cultures and countries in what people wanted from their jobs.
And three out of five believed profit sharing was a major motivator when it came to employee performance.
"Neither praise nor money alone are sufficient to satisfy employees," said Sirota chairman David Sirota.
"There are three basic goals that the vast majority of employees seek from their jobs. These are: pride in one's work, positive and productive relationships with one's co-workers and being treated fairly in pay, benefits and job security," he added.
"As we enter the holiday and bonus season, managers should remember that a 'thank you' from the boss does not replace money, and money cannot substitute for praise," he added.
Complaints about pay were almost always simply about pay, and nothing else. And, for most types of work, the most effective pay-for-performance method was "gain-sharing" rather than "profit-sharing".
"In gain-sharing, employees share in the financial achievements of their group, such as increases in efficiency," said Sirota president Douglas Klein.
"The average productivity improvement under a gain-sharing system is around 25 per cent, while profit-sharing often does not produce discernible improvements, and when it does, only in the neighbourhood of 2 per cent to 6 per cent," he added.