Gratitude in the workplace
Everybody wants to feel appreciated. Gratitude is a crucial engagement factor in the workplace and often the biggest motivator, ahead of money. So how can you get this right as an employer and employee and what difference can it make?
When ‘thanks’ in the workplace becomes solely the wage pack at the end of the month, employees can begin to feel undervalued and demotivated on a day-to-day basis.
According to the John Templeton Foundation study of 2,000 respondents, people are less likely to feel or express gratitude at work than any other place. In turn, they did not rank their jobs as something they feel grateful for. Having said that, 93% of respondents agreed that a grateful employers makes a much more successful person to work for.
Hearing praise makes somebody feel better. Positive psychology confirms that giving and receiving gratitude helps boost our self-worth, as well as our productivity.
One study in Harvard Medical School by Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) divided university fundraisers in two groups. Half were awarded gratitude and thanked for their efforts from the director, while the other half were not. Those who received gratitude produced more funds through fundraising than those who did not.
A thank you costs nothing
Gratitude does not involve the transaction of money, in the same way as a pay check does. Science Director Emiliana Simon-Thomas from the Greater Good Science Center conducted research that found that on days when someone gives or receives gratitude (or has experiences of gratitude), they feel happier. This is a cheap and effective way to improve workplace morale and productivity.
Dr Simon-Thomas also found that the people who prolonged their gratitude experiences were happier in their job, less stressed and reported better health.
How to start giving and receiving more gratitude at work
- Gratitude works best from the ‘top down,’ in other words from hearing thanks from the boss. Those in a position of power have a greater impact in shifting workplace attitudes.
- A thank you needs to be clear, consistent and authentic
- Gratitude can be expressed in a number of ways, from throwing an office party or staff treat/gift, to complimenting the work somebody has done or built into performance reviews and appraisal meetings.
- Don’t take anybody for granted and remember those who, generally, do their job without looking for thanks. Sometimes these people tend to be at the bottom of the workplace pyramid and do jobs such as cleaning, filing or making a cup of tea. Make them feel valued.
- Quality, not quantity is key. If you say thank you, in a throwaway style, several times a day, it is less meaningful than a well thought-out expression of thanks that is justified and authentic.
- Cultivate a culture of gratitude in the workplace over time, so when an unsettled period arises or conflict, employees feel part of a team. Psychologist Robert Emmons says this process “builds up a psychological immune system.”
Gratitude is a key word in the world of positive psychology and this article shows how developing it in the workplace will breed a culture of employees who feel valued and have higher self-esteem, therefore, work more efficiently and feel empowered by their jobs.