Does Gratitude Belong in the Workplace?

Does Gratitude Belong in the Workplace?

As I review the Thanksgiving dinner menu for my family this year, I can’t help but picture people going home to their families for a day to pause and be grateful. Sure, we may be driving or cooking or even (gasp) shopping, and we forget the simple fact that we are gathered together for a day that is literally built on the idea of gratitude. I won’t delve into the old “should every day be thanksgiving” adage, but I’ll ask this…why do we have to leave the workplace to express gratitude? I’m certainly not arguing that Thanksgiving is no longer a work holiday, but I am arguing that gratitude becomes a better, more regular practice in the world of business than on a once-a-year holiday.

Does gratitude belong in the workplace? I’m surprised at how controversial that question can be…

Surely, people belong in the workplace…or who would get the work done?

Why gratitude?

When it comes to what “belongs” in the workplace, let’s zoom out. Why should gratitude be a business practice just as much as performance reviews, journal entries and strategy discussions? Because gratitude is a people practice. It inspires connection, builds trust, strengthens relationships and boosts engagement. Connection, strong leadership, efficient processes and highly engaged employees drive business.

81% percent of millennials expect that their employer communicates completely and honestly.* Where should their employer start? With gratitude.

We know culture matters when millennials and centennials are choosing a job, and we know culture is driven by relationships with co-workers.* How can relationships bloom and grow? With gratitude.

Receiving feedback and encouragement are factors that can boost employee engagement.* How do you deliver those messages? With gratitude.

What is gratitude in the workplace and how do I express it?

If you’re picturing your team around a table, each sharing what you’re grateful for…like the typical Norman Rockwell thanksgiving image…you’re not crazy. At a previous employer, each quarter our teams gathered together for a planning meeting. How did we start? With gratitude. We started each of these meetings by sharing a business gratitude and a personal gratitude, and we went through each person, with no time limits. I learned so much about my co-workers in that hour (or however long it took). It created a bond and helped us see each other as more than just their last e-mail sent or deadline missed. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we laughed and we cried. These moments brought us closer together, shed a layer of the business-y things that allow us to put up walls and allowed us to see people as people. Someone was grateful for her team backing her up while a parent passed away. Someone was grateful for the co-workers that stood beside her on her wedding day. Someone was grateful for the wellness resources we had access to. Are you sensing a theme? Those were personal gratitude statements…and they all involved work.

Work is so engrained in our lives. Work and life are not competitors, so how can we truly bring life to work? (All together now:) With gratitude.

There are many ways to showcase meaningful gratitude in the workplace:

  • Find ambassadors of gratitude.
  • Launch a gratitude sharing initiative – on a bulletin board, on the intranet, in your newsletter.
  • Have a gratitude theme at your next engagement effort.
  • Tie gratitude to your give back program.
  • Tie gratitude to your wellness program.
  • Start your e-mails with gratitude.
  • Start your meetings with gratitude.
  • Show gratitude to your clients, vendors, suppliers, customers.

True gratitude goes beyond thank you e-mails and drive-by words of praise. It requires vulnerability. It must be a way of life, not a checkbox on your to-do list.

Spreading gratitude throughout your organization can start with one person (yes, you!), relentlessly expressing gratitude.

People will talk about it.

People will test it out for themselves.

People will…be human.

So…does gratitude belong in your workplace?

*Source: Kantar US Monitor