‘Penny Poking’ and the Virtuous Cycle of Gratitude

In my non-work time (yes, Virginia, there can be work-life balance), I came across an article that was in no way related to the staffing industry, but triggered an idea I felt was worth sharing. It’s the notion of what is referred to as “penny poking” – where individuals send small amounts of money to friends, family, co-workers, etc. as a simple act of gratitude or kindness.

During a recently published PayPal (the owner of Venmo) Friendship and Money Study, Koski Research found that of the 1,000 Americans, aged 18-55, who participated, 40% of them send these ‘penny pokes’. Many times, these payments are for things that would otherwise not have been paid or have a price or value attached to them, such as advice, encouragement, companionship, support, and so on.


In the fast-paced world of staffing, many of the conversations with our colleagues, clients, and contingent workforce seem to be around needing or wanting something – order requisitions, submittal paperwork, timesheets, credentials…the list goes on. How often are you taking the time – even a few minutes – to show gratitude to one another for the time, effort, and sacrifices they’ve given to help make you successful?

Now, you may not be able – either financially or operationally – to send actual pennies of thanks, but the currency of gratitude is free, and can have a wonderfully fulfilling and reciprocal effect. From a recruiting perspective, social media or SMS is commonly used to broadcast a new job opportunity or recruiting event. But what if – occasionally – you used it to simply say “thank you, you’re appreciated”? This isn’t in response to them doing anything for you, but merely to send a shout out of gratefulness.

Yes, you may already send out canned birthday cards or email campaigns. I’m talking about a personal and individually-directed acknowledgement of appreciation, when the recipient is not expecting it. A couple minutes a day spent to recognize those who have helped you succeed and grow can save hours or days of business development down the road.

When deciding how and for what reason, take a cue from PayPal’s study by starting with these two simple (but impactful) questions:

  • Which … things do you appreciate most about your colleagues, clients, or employees and feel you owe them for?
  • If money were no object, what dollar amount would you place on things colleagues, clients, or employees might have done for you?

Tip: A CRM and ATS solution that allows you to easily identify, flag, locate, and communicate these individuals (either via voice message, SMS, email, social posting, or integrated phone system) can help super-charge your relationship-building reciprocity.

These small gestures of gratitude – whether a ‘penny poke’ or simply a kind word – can create not only a more positive outlook in your personal life, but may lead to a virtuous cycle of success in your professional career, since those small ‘pennies’ of gratitude can grow and compound into new leads, opportunities, and hires.

And for those of you who are worried about millennials and Gen Z, don’t be. According to the study, they seem to be some of the most generous with these small “pokes” of gratitude. I think we’re all going to be alright. So, take a cue from “the kids” and go forth and be thankful!

Amy Yackowski is the Director of Healthcare Best Practices for Erecruit. She is an avid watcher of the Star Wars stories and seeker of new ways to improve the contingent workforce management experience for staffing agencies and their clients through operational analysis and technology. Amy is responsible for helping Erecruit healthcare customers develop their framework, analyze their business processes and optimize their use, effectiveness and efficiency of the Erecruit solutions. Join her in conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn and ayackowski@erecruit.com.
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