When you ask people to share some of their most memorable moments at work, they'll often tell you about a time when they were recognized. I think this is because a thank you is an affirmation from others that their work is making a difference in the world. Here are some thoughts the art of saying thank you:
Recognition for work that adds value is like giving the recipient a road map for future success.
The more specific you can be, the better. Don't simply say "Thank you,'" say "I liked the way you turned around that meeting the other day." Or, "I know I can always count on you to come up with a solution that will make the customer happy."
People like recognition at all ages, at all levels. New hires look for recognition as a sign that they're on the right track. At the same time, a Boomer friend of mine, who's a senior-level executive at a global company, recently shared with me how moved he was when a board member sent him a thank you note for his 25 years of service, listing projects he led that added value.
New hires and/or younger generations tend to model their managers. So training for people managers should provide guidance on when and how to recognize at the company.
Everybody's different, so tailor the recognition to an individual's style for the most impact. They'll be able to receive the information better if they're comfortable with the channel.