As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States this week, here are a few thoughts on gratitude in the workplace and how giving and showing thanks can improve an organization’s culture. Many research studies suggest that the art of practicing gratitude is associated with positive physical and mental health outcomes, happiness and life satisfaction. The benefits of gratitude also bleed into the workplace.
A recent Forbes article summarizes how gratitude connects people:
When someone is nice to us, and we return the favor, that is a form of direct reciprocity that we expect. However, it turns out that people who are the recipients of acts of kindness and thoughtfulness, and who make a point of feeling grateful, are also more likely to help a third party. The ripple effects of that kind of indirect reciprocity are a powerful tool for business leaders looking to build a strong organizational culture.
Robert Emmons is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. As he points out, feeling grateful is a two-step process. First, we recognize the presence of something positive in our lives. Second, we acknowledge it comes from an external source, often another person. Gratitude involves a humble recognition that we are interdependent, that we need one another.
One study suggests the potential for organizations to “institutionalize” gratitude by making such expressions part of workplace culture. The authors note a “significant relationship between gratitude and job satisfaction” and suggest that “organizational leaders can boost job satisfaction by regularly prompting grateful emotions.”
An article from the Greater Good Magazine, entitled How Gratitude Can Transform Your Workplace discusses the benefits of practicing gratitude in the workplace.
The practice of gratitude—and its close sibling, appreciation—has started to infiltrate workplaces, from new software companies to older institutions like Campbell Soup, whose former CEO wrote 30,000 thank you notes to his employees. Though research on gratitude has exploded over the past two decades, studies of gratitude at work are still somewhat limited; results so far link it to more positive emotions, less stress and fewer health complaints, a greater sense that we can achieve our goals, fewer sick days, and higher satisfaction with our jobs and our coworkers.
The article continues to outline ways to practice gratitude at work noting that is much more than just having an employee recognition program and rewarding high performance. Gratitude is linked to appreciation of the whole person not just the work-self and that it is not a one-size-fits-all solution because people like to be appreciated in different ways. Above all practicing gratitude must be embraced by leaders for it to authentically become part of a company’s culture.
If you want to read more about the Science of Gratitude, the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley published a white paper on the topic in May 2018.
I am thankful for all my incredibly smart and dedicated co-workers who are genuinely passionate about improving work for everyone.
Happy Thanksgiving from the team at Frontier Signal.
Frontier Signal sees the future of work as uniquely human and our mission is to help people maximize their talent. We deliver augmented-intelligence technology for business and HR leaders to acquire, develop, and retain an engaged and aligned workforce to meet current and future needs and drive revenue in their organizations. If you would like to learn more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us 646-866-7028 or visit our web site at https://www.frontiersignal.com/.