Gratitude in the workplace is essential

Whether you’re a manager or an entry-level worker, it’s important to express your thanks.

Gratitude in the workplace is essential

Gratitude never goes out of style.

This is the time of year when all of us pause to give thanks for the blessings in our lives, however, gratitude is something we should be expressing in the workplace all year long.

Telling your employees and your boss that you are thankful for their work and leadership is a guaranteed way to spread a little happiness and encourage others to respond in kind and a simple way to practice gratitude. In fact, a recent Monster poll showed that 94 percent of workers say that receiving gratitude motivates them in their daily work, and a whopping 97 percent say that expressing gratitude helps ease stress and anxiety. Let’s get grateful!

Make that ‘thank you’ personal

Many employees have experienced the lone cookie-cutter holiday email from their boss, thanking the team for all their hard work over the previous year. It feels good to read it, but it’s a little bit hollow, right?

Adria Bagshaw, vice president at W.H. Bagshaw in Nashua, New Hampshire, a 150-year-old family-owned machine shop that produces, among many other things, a part for a hospital ventilator maker. “Since COVID-19 hit, we gave a raise of 10 percent to all of our workers, since we have been asking a lot of them to work overtime to complete our orders.” Bagshaw says that giving tangible thanks to her employees is key. “My love language is food, so we have been bringing in catered lunch once a week for all of our 45 employees.”

“We’re a very humble business, so we can’t do big flashy things,” Bagshaw explains. “However, we do what we can to personally show our team that we care, and that builds loyalty: In fact, my husband and I are going to dress up as turkeys to hand out Thanksgiving-dinner gift certificates!” Whereas the Monster poll revealed that only around 54 percent of employees feel recognized for their contributions at work, gestures such as those at W.H. Bagshaw can go a long way in demonstrating gratitude in the workplace.

Be laser-focused when giving acknowledgement

A generic “thank you” to your team is likely to be appreciated, but not nearly as much as giving a very specific compliment and praise to a worker for a job well done.

Showing specific gratitude is baked in at her workplace, says Adria Bagshaw. “We have a weekly all-team meeting, and we solicit shout-outs from team leaders for people who have gone above and beyond, and that really helps build morale,” she says. 

Crystal M. Farley is a career wellness coach and owner of C Far Beyond the Box, based in Windham, New Hampshire. She describes what she does as “working to make people better humans in and out of the workplace.” She is a big fan of expressing thanks in the workplace.

“Lately there has been a big appreciation for wellness in the workplace, and I love that people are expressing gratitude now,” says Farley. However, the Monster poll shows that 91 percent of respondents say that they express gratitude in the workplace, but only 64 percent say that they receive gratitude—there is a big disconnect there, not all of the thanks is landing the way it should.

Farley advises specific actions to be taken by businesses. “There’s a couple of things that I do when I see management not expressing gratitude,” she says. “I’ll tell them to begin with looking for some low-hanging fruit—routine goals and targets—and to celebrate them when they are reached. I tell managers to give kudos to their workers who are doing well. It makes a huge difference to morale.”

How to practice gratitude at work

Austin-based work-life balance expert and award-winning author Suzanne Brown feels that gratitude usually is a top-down phenomenon. “If you can, as a manager, demonstrate that gratitude is built into your team, it can inspire more of it between colleagues,” says Brown. “Being able to simply recognize people helps you say, ‘I know this is your job, but I so appreciate the gusto with which you do it,’ and it’s a great place to start.” 

Brown says that the thanks should also flow between departments. It’s important to acknowledge the above-and-beyond job someone did, and to acknowledge it to them and their manager. She suggests, “Simply send an email to them thanking them for the help they gave you and cc their boss. A simple ‘Thank you’ is the easiest thing to do in an office setting.”

Realize that gratitude is not just about a big bonus at the end of the year, it’s about consistently recognizing your staff and co-workers every other day. “It’s about those small moments that help you improve relationships over time,” says Brown. “On a random Tuesday at 3 p.m. to say, ‘I saw what you did in that meeting before, that was great!’ is uplifting to people. Gratitude makes you feel seen. Management also needs to back up the appreciation with policies—via paid time off or mental-health days—that show you’re thankful year-round.”

Finally, says career coach Crystal Farley, “Don’t be scared to talk about this at work. If you’re not feeling grateful—and especially if you are—speak up! Get out of your comfort zone.”

Keep it up year-round

While the holidays offer a good reminder to express your gratitude, aim to thank your employees for their hard work throughout the year. Taking the time to acknowledge your employees’ work year-round will help keep them motivated and feeling good about the impact they have.

Not only will this make your team feel like winners and encourage them to work hard, you can also reap the benefits. A boss known for expressing gratitude is a coveted addition to any leadership team—your future employers won’t over look this fact. So put monthly reminders on your calendar to make a gesture of thanks to employees, Swann says. It may seem like a little thing, but your team will appreciate you for it. 

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