It’s Thanksgiving week and the time of year when individuals and families take extra time to reflect on what they’re grateful for. It helps us gain perspective and keep a positive mindset as we head into the winter months. But it’s not just helpful at home—gratitude at work is good for organizations, too. That’s why companies are increasingly being mindful of thankfulness in November and, if they’re smart, all year round. It’s easy to underestimate the value of gratitude. Studies have shown benefits ranging from less stress and better health to increased productivity and satisfaction when gratitude is intentionally practiced. This year gives companies a particularly unique chance to appreciate the strengths that have brought them through the challenges of Covid-19. Here are some of the ways an attitude of appreciation can go a long way at work, now and always.
Reduced Stress & Improved Health
Research suggests that both positive work events and intentional positive reflection are beneficial to health in a number of ways: they lead to less perceived stress, lower blood pressure, reduced physical symptoms of stress, and better mental health. Employees who took part in a gratitude intervention practice even took fewer sick days due to illness. Since stress can cause all kinds of physical ailments, this isn’t so surprising. And healthier workers means a company in better shape, too.
Greater Confidence and Productivity
Psychology professor Dr. Robert Emmons of UC Davis calls gratitude “the ultimate performance-enhancing substance.” When you point out how much you appreciate something a person’s done, they naturally have an urge to continue earning more of that recognition—raising their energy and work performance. And the confidence boost that comes from a genuine thank-you or shoutout goes to both the receiver and the giver. It’s been shown that even one big act of recognition can improve happiness for weeks, on both ends of the exchange. We are intrinsically built for connection and collaboration—and when we express gratitude for someone’s role, we strengthen those bonds, which feels really good.
Higher Job Satisfaction
You’ve probably heard about the Great Resignation that’s been happening in recent months—employees are realizing how dissatisfied they are at work and leaving in large numbers. Some research suggests that 53% of quitting employees would stay longer if they got more appreciation from their bosses. And again, for you employees out there, expressing your own gratitude toward others can also make you more satisfied at work. It forges positive bonds and decreases alienation. Reaching out to others to commend them on a project or task lets them know you’re paying attention, which in turn makes you more visible as well.
How to Practice Gratitude at Work
One survey with over 2,000 respondents of different backgrounds found work to be the place where people were least likely to express gratitude. So it’s clear that there’s room for improvement, especially with all the benefits it brings. But how can you put a practice of gratitude into tangible actions at work? To start with, ask yourself what you might be taking for granted and whether you actually voice the things you do appreciate. If you find yourself more often lamenting things that go wrong or amplifying your frustrations with employees or coworkers, you might just have a case of GDD, or Gratitude Deficit Disorder.
But there are easy and fun ways to improve this situation. If you’re in a shared office space, keep a gratitude white board where colleagues can write down what they appreciated during the week. In a digital team, you can use a platform like Nectar for team members to give each other shoutouts with gift card rewards. Even a small reward turns out to be worth much more than its dollar value. End-of-the-week meetings that focus on successes and appreciation can help keep positivity and morale up too. And it never gets too old-fashioned to write a note of thanks or praise, or even send a little gift. Thinking positively, and communicating it, creates a feedback loop that ends up more fulfilling all around. The appreciation you show at work could make ripples across your organization, spill over to your partners and clients…and even stay with you when you go home.