Gratitude in the Workplace: An Underappreciated Practice
Life can be stressful, especially in our fast-paced, frenetic world, and as humans, we also tend to feel negative emotions more intensely than positive ones. This makes it all the more important to remember to take the time to appreciate the good things around you.
Practising gratitude is a mindfulness technique that is often recommended by psychologists, as it has been proven to improve mental health. Indeed, practising gratitude could benefit every aspect of your life, but applying the practice to the workplace can bring its own set of advantages.
The Benefits of Practising Gratitude
Being a grateful person can add many benefits to your life. Most people are only familiar with the mental ones, but the practice can support our physical health, too! Some of its best benefits include:
- Lowered stress levels and improved sleep quality – expressing gratitude can lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and less cortisol means better sleep!
- Better mental health – focusing on gratitude can help break negative thought patterns, reducing feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Stronger immune system – it’s unclear why, but positive thinking and gratitude could even fortify your immune system. This is possibly because stress can damage the body, so less stress means your immune system is better prepared to fight off bugs.
- Reduction in aches and pains – people who practise gratitude more often are reportedly less likely to experience aches and pains and more likely to take care of their health.
It’s easy to reap these benefits. One of the most popular ways to introduce more gratitude into your life is through a gratitude journal, where you write about things you’re grateful for or that make you happy. It’s best to jot down your thoughts every day, but even once a week will help.
And the benefits of gratitude don’t have to stop at your personal life. Expressing gratitude in the workplace is often overlooked but should be practised by every manager and employee.
Why is Extending Gratitude in the Workplace So Important?
Unfortunately, saying thank you is something which we can often forget to do entirely or do without thought or care, especially in the busy workplace. However, giving thanks is extremely important for better employee well-being.
If you need some motivation to start practising gratitude at work, here are some ways it could benefit you and your team.
1. Creates a stronger and more supportive team
Gratitude is the key to strengthening your relationship with your team and creating an enjoyable environment for everyone. Taking the time to thank your team for their input shows you care, which helps to build a community of trust and support. Employees who feel valued are more likely to create deeper relationships with their colleagues, leading to better teamwork.
2. Helps to improve motivation and productivity
Sometimes workplaces can be competitive environments in which people feel they have to fight to meet deadlines or secure deals, rather than prioritise showing appreciation or kindness. This lack of gratitude can leave employees feeling unmotivated, especially if they feel like their work isn’t appreciated. And, of course, if employees don’t feel motivated to work hard, their productivity (and the performance of your business) will inevitably be affected. The easiest way to solve this problem is to take the time to thank your team for their work.
Research by O.C. Tanner found that when asked what would help them produce more and higher quality work, 37% of employees said they needed more recognition from their managers. Appreciated employees produce better work, which benefits everyone!
3. It can make you happier, too
If you’re looking for an extra reason to start being more mindful about expressing gratitude, it won’t just benefit those you say a little thank you to but yourself, too.
Research by Dr Martin E. P. Seligman found that writing and delivering a letter of thanks increased happiness among his study’s participants, with these benefits lasting up to a month! This is thought to be because reflecting on things that make you grateful reminds you of all the good things in your life. It also helps you feel more connected to the people you’re thanking, which means you’ll feel closer to your team as people, not just as employees.
Did You Know?
World Gratitude Day is on the 21st of September, and it started in 1965 in Hawaii! It has since spread to other countries all over the world.
Ways to Show Gratitude in the Workplace
So, we know by now that there are various benefits of expressing gratitude in the workplace. But where should you start? How can you show your team that you appreciate them?
1. Send an email, note, or make a phone call
If you want to thank a colleague but can’t do it in person, you could send an email, write a handwritten thank you note, or give them a phone call. Each method has its own benefits!
- Emails are quick, easy, and can be accessed at any time.
- For something you’re really grateful for, sending a thank you note is a long-appreciated tradition that shows you’ve put in extra effort to share that you appreciate the recipient. It can also be saved as a reminder for the person on the receiving end of your gratitude ₁₇.
- If they’re out of the office when you want to say a quick thank you, leave a Post-it note on their desk – it’ll put a smile on their face when they return.
- Alternatively, a phone call allows you to express your gratitude in your own voice, which may feel more personal.
2. Post on social media
In addition to expressing gratitude privately, you can also publicly appreciate team members through your company’s social media platforms. This demonstrates your employees just how thankful and proud you are, as you’re willing to share their hard work with others, enhancing their sense of value. It may also inspire others in your team to excel even further, knowing it won’t go unnoticed and could elevate their professional image for online networking.
3. Create regular opportunities for appreciation
Another way to introduce a gratitude focus to your workplace is to set up regular opportunities to appreciate your team. This could manifest as a monthly meeting where team members share thanks and give praise to others for their hard work, or even an employee of the month scheme ₂₀ ₂₁. Getting everyone together to appreciate each other will help to create an environment of respect, leading to better teamwork in the future ₂₂. Just make sure that even if only select people win awards or get mentioned, you regularly thank everyone for what they’ve been doing so that the rest of the team doesn’t feel overlooked ₂₃.
4. Treat your employees
Everyone loves to be treated sometimes! If you’re looking for a fun way to give thanks and up office morale, treat your team to coffee, or perhaps bring in something delicious to share. You could also arrange fun activities such as game nights, day trips, or picnics/team lunches, as these can help your team bond and show them that their work is appreciated.
5. Check in and offer support
Checking in with your team is valuable as it helps them feel seen and supported, even if this is as simple as saying “Good morning”, “How are you?”, or “How are you finding X project?”. This shows employees that you’re grateful for them and care about them as people. If your staff feel that you respect them, they are more likely to open up to you. If you know that a staff member is going through a difficult time, make it clear to them that you appreciate their hard work and are there to help. Small gestures might include buying them a coffee and having a 1:1 chat or, if they’re off work, sending them a card to show you’re thinking of them. If there’s a wellbeing issue, you should always make sure they know how you can support them.
Regardless of your method of showing your gratitude, always make sure that you’re specific in what you’re thankful for so that your employees know you’re genuine.
How Thrive4Life Can Help You Support Your Team’s Physical and Mental Health:
- Line Management Training in Stress and Mental Health – Research shows that only 24% of line managers have received adequate training in managing their team’s mental health. Line managers will leave our Line Management training course for Managing Stress and Mental Health with a better understanding of how to manage stress in the workplace.
- Mental Health First Aid Training – We help selected employees become accredited Mental Health First Aiders through our course, equipping them with the skills needed to handle emergencies and support other employees. We also offer refresher courses to update knowledge after completion.
- Health and Wellbeing Educational Talks – We deliver livestreamed webinars to educate staff about their health and wellbeing so they can live healthier and happier lives.
Practising regular gratitude is often recommended by psychologists, and for good reason: making a conscious decision to be more grateful can benefit both your personal and professional life. Thanking your employees ensures they know you value them and their contributions to the team, leading to better employee wellbeing and a happier workplace. Furthermore, if your employees feel appreciated, they will be more productive and produce better work, which will fuel your company’s success.
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