“In our daily lives,” said celebrated author Arthur Clarke, “we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.”

It’s a lesson the world could stand to learn, given the stark absence of gratitude that characterizes the professional landscape most of us occupy. According to a recent Gallup poll, a full 65% of people say they don’t feel appreciated at work. For the most part, it seems, we plod through our days without recognition, putting in time in pursuit of no more reward than the occasional direct deposit to our bank accounts. And that sucks.

Gratitude, and its expression through thanks and heartfelt appreciation, has a powerful role to play in a human being’s existence. A few years back, those same folks from Gallup assigned official meaning to this reality with research that probed the thinking of some 80,000 managers from 400 companies with a dozen-question survey seeking to identify those features of an organization that most attract employees. Among the most predictive of the 12 questions? These three: “In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?” “Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me?” and “At work, do my opinions seem to count?”

The message behind this trio of queries, which together make up 25% of the so-called “Q12,” suggest strongly that a subordinate’s perception that his work is valued by his superiors is critical to his continued sense of contentment with the firm.

Even small acts of appreciation, like simply saying thank you for a job well done, are meaningful and have significant impact on the workplace experience for an individual. They help cultivate an atmosphere of fidelity and productivity among staffers. In such a scene, people feel empowered, inspired, enthused. Happy.

It’s something Meighen Nehme, CEO of Tecumseh, Ont.-based staffing firm The Job Shoppe, understands. She recently introduced a points system to her office wherein employees earn points for good deeds—including expressing thanks to coworkers—that they can use to purchase perks. “The system works,” says Nehme.

More common, however, is a workplace situation that’s distinguished by a dearth of positive reinforcement. Most folks, it seems, are not inclined to share expressions of approval with coworkers who have done well. In the most typical scenarios, corporate brass make arrogant assumptions about their employees’ performance expectations and imagine the monetary recognition that their pay cheques are gratitude enough.

Again, and this is a message that needs to be heard: It’s not.

Without such dedicated expressions of interest, in an environment where focus is always thrown on mistakes rather than achievements, morale suffers and negativity rules. When people feel unappreciated, they lose their spark. They get bored, they get resentful and the whole machine is put in peril.

At the end of the day, the real strength of any organization lies in its relationships, and relationships flourish when every party acknowledges the talents and efforts of the others. “Appreciation is a wonderful thing,” French philosopher Voltaire once grandly expounded. “It makes what is excellent in others belong to us, as well.”