6 Ways to Bring Gratitude into the Workplace
Research shows that people who feel grateful for the good things in their lives are more even tempered, happier and feel better supported by others – all traits which make an excellent employee and contribute to positive workplace culture. We also know that grateful people are less likely to burn out even in high stress professions. That’s not only good for the employee, but good for the company: a lower turnover rate means low recruitment costs, and happy employees perform better at work.
And yet, very few of us feel or express gratitude at work. A 2013 survey of 2000 workers by the John Templeton Foundation found that not only did most people feel better when someone thanked them, but also reported improved mood when they thanked another worker. In other words, expressing appreciation is a mood booster just as surely as receiving praise. Despite the obvious benefits, a huge 60% of workers never express gratitude to their colleagues.
As a manager, you can make a real difference to your workplace by modelling gratitude. The Templeton survey found that 81% of respondents would work harder for a more grateful boss, so with everything to gain from expressing gratitude, here are some tips for how to make your workplace a thankful one.
1. ‘Catch’ your employees doing something right
Acknowledging employees who are doing something right is far more effective for morale than criticising their mistakes. Make a conscious effort to look out for the good things your employees are doing and thank them for them.
2. Be specific and authentic
Target your praise to the individual and make sure you give them specific feedback for a particular task or trait done well.
3. Recognise that your success as a manager is largely due to the hard work of your team
When you say thank you to them for innovating and pulling together, you should mean it: their success is your success. This is well worth modelling for your team’s sake as well; a good employee is someone who recognises that they can learn from one another and is grateful to the people who help them become better.
4. Help your employees be the best they can by providing them with the training and tools they need
They’ll notice that you’re investing in them and feel appreciated in the meantime.
5. Encourage gratitude sharing within your team
Kick off your monthly meeting by going around and sharing something at work that each member feels thankful for. Or do what Plasticity Labs did, and ask your employees to devote time to writing down the things about their job that make them thankful. Researchers saw immediate improvements in morale and lower turnover in the group that did the exercise regularly.
6. Keep a gratitude journal
Dr. Robert Emmons, who is spearheading a three year project at the University of California called Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, recommends taking time at the beginning or end of each day to write down five things that you’re grateful for that day. As you continue to practice gratitude, you become more attuned to feeling it, and your thank-you to staff and colleagues will benefit from the added sincerity.
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Berkeley, Plasticity Labs, Research Gate, Redii