Gratitude at work: How showing thanks fosters well-being and engagement
By: Elle Schlicker
In a recent Forbesarticle, Karl Sun talks about the power of gratitude at work, stating: “Gratitude is a basic human requirement — and since we spend most of our waking hours at the office, showing gratitude at work becomes pretty important.” There’s no sugarcoating it: Work can be a grind. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s easy to slip into a mindset of focusing on all the things that are going wrong. However, creating an environment that fosters gratitude in the workplace allows employees to find value and take pride in all aspects of their work.
This post will dive into what is gratitude, why gratitude in the workplace is important, along with 7 ways to show gratitude at work.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is characterized by a general state of thankfulness or appreciation. It can mean appreciating what’s valuable and meaningful for an individual or even recognizing the positive and small things in life.
Gratitude can be experienced in multiple ways — such as dispositional gratitude (the tendency to appreciate the positive in the world), collective gratitude (shared feelings of gratitude in a group) and relational gratitude (gratitude received from others) — and each one helps people feel motivated about their work.
Why gratitude at work is important
Expressing gratitude at work has many benefits. At the most basic level, people need meaningful interpersonal connection, community, and validation. Giving and receiving thanks at work leads to improved connections between colleagues. In fact, 88.2% of employees said recognition would be beneficial to increase social and cultural connections at work.
Workplace gratitude is also good for business. A Limeade Institute study revealed employees with high levels of gratitude and mindfulness are more likely to have high levels of well-being, engagement and productivity and low levels of stress at work.
Simply put, it feels good to be recognized and to recognize others at work. It’s also clear that positive feedback fosters better attitudes in the workplace and creates an environment that makes employees feel valued and included.
7 ways to show gratitude at work
Expressing and receiving gratitude at work is crucial to creating a positive employee experience. Not only does it provide an atmosphere of care, warmth and empathy, it also helps people feel more engaged with their work. And, since we know gratitude is a big part of the employee experience, here are tips on how to practice gratitude in the workplace:
1. Build appreciation and praise into team meetings
When you verbally acknowledge others’ efforts and accomplishments, you encourage them to keep up the good work. Take five minutes at the beginning of a meeting for “cheers” or “kudos”. Employees and managers can use the time to recognize each other’s efforts and accomplishments of the past week.
2. Create a “no meeting” day
Creating one day out of the week dedicated to no meetings shows employees you care. By proactively blocking time for them to get through their to-do list without the distraction of meetings, you’re sending the message that you appreciate them and respect their time. Additionally, remember to encourage employees to build in recovery time. Building in time for a mini break between tasks — even if it’s just to refill a water glass and take a few deep breaths can go along way.
3. Put a weekly 15-minute time block on your calendar
The easiest way to make gratitude part of your culture is to simply model it. If you want your team members to be grateful and appreciate each other, then you need to do the same. Building a new habit takes time and a reminder will help you take time to show gratitude on a regular basis.
4. Share team success with leaders
Sharing team success with leaders builds trust and confidence within your team. It shows that you believe in them and their work, and it helps them feel like an important part of your company’s mission. Encourage employees to also advocate wins and lessons learned. For example, if someone on your team has made a significant contribution to a project, share that information with management so they know what’s working well in the organization.
5. Pay attention to milestones
Celebrate and acknowledge employees for the completion of specific projects, events or promotions. As people grow within the organization, share how their role is appreciated company wide.
6. Perform random acts of kindness
It can feel overwhelming to come up with a way to show gratitude to employees. Rest assured, it’s not necessary to spend lots of money or make grand gestures. Sometimes the smallest acts can go a long way. Here are a few small ways you can show the people around you that you care:
Clean up the break room, fridge or microwave at work
Make a fresh pot of coffee, or bring in coffee for your co-workers
Offer to help a co-worker with a difficult task or project
Treat a co-worker to lunch
7. Create a wall of gratitude at work
Create a gratitude wall at work where everyone can write down what they appreciate about each other’s work and achievements anonymously. This builds camaraderie among employees and also encourages them to recognize each other more often.
Tips on how to practice gratitude at work
Expressing gratitude at work can be an uncomfortable experience. The good news is that it’s possible to feel comfortable when expressing gratitude at work, even if it doesn’t feel natural at first. Here are some tips on how to practice gratitude at work:
Highlight an employee’s personal accomplishments: “Let’s hear it for …!”
Explain how an employee’s efforts lead to tangible results: “… exceeded the goal by 10%!”
Show how an employee is excelling in work practices: “Did you hear how … resolved that issue?”
Highlight an employee’s dedication to the organization: “… has been a reliable worker for five years.”
Expose an employee’s commitment to teamwork: “… took initiative to troubleshoot a problem that helped…”
The above gratitude at work examples serve as tangible ways to sincerely recognize and show appreciation for employees, co-workers, managers and leaders.
Prioritize employee care with Limeade
Tools like Limeade create a digital space for employees to cheer each other on and show gratitude for one another. Want to learn how you can further support employees this season? Take our burnout quiz to help identify which stage of burnout is affecting your organization and how to take action.