Although Thanksgiving is about enjoying great food with family and friends, the main ingredient of the holiday is gratitude. While Thanksgiving gives us a day to count our blessings, much can be said for the benefits of cultivating an attitude of gratitude year-around.
Scientists have proven that people who are thankful experience improved health, more positive emotions and better ability to handle stress. People who have an attitude of gratitude are also better able to reach their goals.
The head doctor of biologic psychology at Duke University Medical Center stated, “If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best-setting product with a health benefit for every major organ system.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to transfer these benefits to the workplace? What business owner would be against less stress, fewer sick days and better achievement of company goals?
Research on gratitude shows there is good reason to build a culture of gratitude:
- When employees feel valued, they have high job satisfaction, are willing to work longer hours, engage in productive relationships with co-workers and supervisors, are motivated to do their best, and work toward achieving the company’s goals. There is a really great vibe at these companies.
- When managers say, “Thank you,” employees feel greater motivation at work, and work harder than their peers. Employees go even further than helping the manager who offered the gratitude, extending themselves to others, in kind of a pay it forward approach.
- On the flip side, research by the American Psychological Association shows that more than half of employees polled intended to search for new jobs because they felt underappreciated and undervalued.
- And, according to a recent Gallup poll, 65% of employees say they don’t feel appreciated at work, leading to negativity, low morale and reduced productivity.
Apparently, when people don’t feel valued by their boss, they start to care less. They don’t provide the same level of service. They don’t make an effort to help co-workers as much. Productivity decreases, turnover increases, and the business can be negatively impacted – especially in a down economy.
7 Gratitude Boosters
In the spirit of the season, here are some tips to start creating a culture of gratitude at work.
- Say Thanks. The biggest takeaway from research on workplace gratitude says employees need to hear “thank you” from the boss first – and it must be authentically said. Leaders can also say thanks in symbolic ways – by jumping in to help, lending a parking space, or giving a day off.
A simple thank you note or heartfelt email for work well done can be very powerful. Keep in mind that gratitude encourages repeat performances. The behavior you recognize repeats itself!
- Build It In. Leaders can make gratitude a policy and a practice through a wide variety of options, such as employee appreciation, recognition or incentive programs. Gratitude can be built into performance reviews. In staff meetings, spending 5 minutes expressing gratitude can change team cohesion.
There are literally hundreds of ways to reinforce a culture of gratitude from creating a “gratitude wall” for employees to recognize each other, to a “kudos” webpage that is accessible to all employees. Some organizations provide personalized gifts to employees or hold luncheons, after-work gatherings and holiday parties. The list is endless.
- Develop Employees. According to Gallup, 70% of employees feel valued at work when they have opportunities for growth and development. In addition to formal trainings and certifications, there are many options that don’t cost money, such as new assignments, interesting projects, special task forces and cross-training.
- Be Inclusive. Employees feel valued when they are included in decision-making and problem-solving for the greater good of the organization. The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), with its shared Vision and weekly Level 10 Meetings, is a perfect example of how to incorporate regular feedback from employees – and then put it to action!
- Thank Customers. A culture of gratitude at the office naturally extends to your customers. Look for opportunities to say, “Thank you for putting your trust in us today.” “Thank you for giving us your business.” Or, thank them by providing sales, incentives or coupons. Cultivating a culture of gratitude will boost your customer retention. A recent study shows that customers who were thanked increased their future purchases by 70%!
- Quality NOT Quantity. Too much gratitude can create “gratitude fatigue.” Forcing people to be grateful just doesn’t work. Expressions of gratitude must be authentic, sincere and altruistically motivated. Last, gratitude must come from the top. Everyone knows, as the leadership team goes, so does the rest of the organization!
- Make it Timely. Gratitude is best shared when you think of it, or very soon after. It has a diminished rate of return with every day that goes by. Thank yous should be specific and timely to be meaningful.
Why Not Start?
Creating a culture of gratitude is really very simple: Try to make people feel valued and appreciated. Your work environment will be healthier. You’ll like each other more. You’ll go the extra mile for each other. Trust improves. Negativity slips away. Your customers will be happier. Finally, your efforts will be reflected on the bottom line.