Whenever my former boss wrote comments like “Good!” and “Nice work” on stories I edited, it had the same effect as a gold star in school: I felt proud and determined to do a good job again. I’ve kept her thoughtful handwritten birthday and Christmas cards; I can’t say the same for equally lovely emails and e-cards.

Turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way. According to a recent survey commissioned by BIC, 61 per cent of Canadians believe receiving a personalized form of praise, such as a handwritten note, has more value than other forms of workplace communication.

“A note of recognition can produce an immediate and positive reaction and is a proactive way to appreciate employees,” adds handwriting analyst and BIC spokesperson Elaine Charal.


Positive feedback is as important to future employees as it is to seasoned pros. University of Prince Edward Island undergrad Kristen Lockett received a confidence booster and valuable addition to her portfolio in the form of a note highlighting her personal strengths and the specific things that impressed the supervisor at her recent internship.

For Karin Vollmer, who has been teaching at the same Toronto-area high school for 10 years, kudos for extracurricular activities like producing a student talent show and organizing and fundraising for a class trip to Costa Rica have added to her job satisfaction.

“I love the acknowledgement, the fact that my principal takes the time to sit down and write a message about how I’ve touched people’s lives,” she says. “It makes me feel that I’m not going unnoticed.”

Handwritten notes make good business sense for other reasons. In addition to recognizing team members, Chad McAlpine, RBC Capital Markets vice-president, quantitative and global research, sends small holiday gifts with notes to those who have contributed to his franchise’s growth. His inspirations? Business Notes: Writing Personal Notes that Build Professional Relationships by Florence Isaacs ($18, Clarkson Potter), a guide to writing the perfect message to engage employees, win new clients, deepen customer loyalty and more.

Plus, personal experience: a year ago, his former boss-turned client sent him a publication he thought McAlpine would enjoy, along with a note.

“It was a very nice touch, and I sent him a letter thanking him for thinking about me,” says McAlpine.

Proof that even in the age of texting, email and Twitter, a handwritten note remains a powerful communication tool.

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