Gratitude. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it as “a feeling of appreciation or thanks.”

Much has been written about having an attitude of gratitude. Walking in gratitude is a powerful lifestyle. Robert Emmons is a psychologist widely considered the top expert on gratitude. His research shows gratitude can increases happiness levels by about 25 percent.

But gratitude goes beyond living happily ever after—it also holds business value.

Globoforce’s Spring 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker survey reveals 86 percent of employees who were shown gratitude in the workplace felt more motivated in their roles. What’s more, more than 80 percent of employees who felt appreciated at work wanted to hold steady at their current company, according to Globoforce’s Spring 2012 Workforce Mood Tracker. That compares to 60 percent who did not feel appreciated and were actively seeking a new job.

Gratitude also impacts employee engagement. Globoforce’s 2013 Workforce Mood Tracker study revealed employees empowered to give thanks to peers were over twice as engaged as those not empowered. The studies go on and on, confirming one another and demonstrating gratitude enhances social connections, health, energy levels and the capacity to achieve while reducing stress, depression and loneliness.

“Saying thank you is an emotional act. It doesn't just acknowledge someone's effort, kindness, intent, or action. It recognizes the person himself,” says Tim Askew, CEO of Corporate Rain International. “It's even more important than acknowledging the principal person you are doing business with because it sets a tone for discussion. And it is a winning tone. When you suffuse your preliminary actions with gratitude, it shines out of you as a penumbra of generosity.”

David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line, says his own academic research on trust has revealed not only that gratitude makes a difference but that people don’t require big gestures, just heartfelt ones.

“Simple but genuine thank-yous or small, handwritten notes of appreciation can mean the world to people. So if it’s so easy, why don’t we do it more often?” he asks. “When it comes to business, I think we fall into the trap of not seeing people when we work with them. We take them for granted and just assume they don’t need a show of gratitude. This oversight can have huge consequences, particularly if you’re the boss.”

Lori Saitz, a nationally recognized expert in using gratitude to boost client retention and increase referral business, says the unstated benefit of a thank you is the feeling you give to others. As see sees it, plenty of business people think that their clients make decisions based solely on practical, logical factors—but no one makes decisions without incorporating emotional factors as well.

“As humans, it’s virtually impossible to do. Which means that how you treat your clients, how your clients feel about working with you, whether they are buying for individual consumption or on behalf of their business, is of the utmost importance,” she says.

“Showing your appreciation is an integral part of building and strengthening your relationship. There was a study conducted not long ago that found a mere 5% improvement in customer retention would increase profits 25 to 100. Wow, that’s incredible! If you could use appreciation as the powerful and influential tool it is, and it actually increased your business, why in the world would you not take advantage?”