Year-Round Gratitude in the Workplace

Nov 28, 2019

According to Psychology Today, gratitude is “an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. Spontaneously generated from within, it is an affirmation of goodness.”

With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the workplace, practicing gratitude is akin to acknowledging that no one is an island. We all rely on each other to get things done, and the way in which we work affects others. Focusing on the good in the workplace can boost morale, encourage a positive culture, and increase productivity.

Four in five (81%) employees report they are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. They even feel more valued when they feel they can approach their colleagues or superiors about non-work topics. Research shows that appreciation creates an environment where employees actually want to come to work. But of all the places in their lives, people are least likely to express gratitude at work.

Maybe it’s because of the structure of a typical office environment, where pushing for the next promotion is a priority. Maybe it’s because everyone is so focused on things that “have to get done” that they don’t take a moment to appreciate what they have. Regardless of the cause, scientific research clearly shows that gratitude positively impacts the workplace, including:

  • Improved productivity, based on job satisfaction and motivation
  • Stronger relationships within in-house teams, customers, clients, and vendors
  • Enhanced well-being, resulting in fewer sick days, greater optimism and increased energy
  • Better stress management, because gratitude is consistently associated with greater happiness

To make the most of these benefits, it’s best to support a culture of gratitude and not one-off “thanks” here and there. It’s a snowball effect of happiness! Here are some tips for showing gratitude at work:

  • Make it specific. A general “thanks for your work” isn’t enough to constitute gratitude. We all want to be appreciated for different things because we are different people. “Thanks for making all those copies—I really appreciate it!” is much better.
  • Appreciate the person, not the act. Recognition rewards what someone accomplishes; appreciation acknowledges their worth as a person.
  • Be mindful daily. Try to look for things to be thankful for on a daily basis.
  • Make sure it’s genuine. Don’t make it a checklist item; provide honest appreciation whenever it occurs to you. Quality over quantity—even a small meaningful gesture is more helpful than a specific number.
  • Practice humility. When you’re humble, you realize that others play a large part in your achievements.
  • Thank someone mentally. Harvard Health Publishing suggests that you can find benefits just by thinking about someone who has done something nice for you.
  • Extend it to the community. Donating time and resources to our community reminds us how fortunate we are.

Making gratitude an organizational focus benefits everyone in the company. Think about discussing with your supervisor or HR department to see if you can help bring some of this positivity to your workplace.

Written by: Sarah Perlman

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