Showing a little gratitude in the office could be the simplest, yet most effective way to boost morale and promote a healthy culture. Yet, many leaders hesitate to show their appreciation.
Many wonder why they should show gratitude just because an employee does his job. Others worry that showing appreciation could backfire. “If I thank her for a job well done, she’ll expect a raise.”
Rather than saying, “I’m grateful for your hard work,” they send a message that implies, “You’d better be grateful I give you a job, buddy!”
Yet, instead of being grateful to have a job, many workers are thinking, “You should be grateful I’m willing to work for a boss like you!”
It’s sort of like when people demand respect from everyone, but no one’s willing to be the first one to give it. In many workplaces, a similar attitude exists around gratitude. Everyone’s thinking about how unappreciated they are, yet no one is willing to express a little gratitude first.
The Benefits of Workplace Gratitude
That attitude is unfortunate because a simple ‘thank you’ offers benefits on an individual and an organizational level. Here are a few science-backed benefits of gratitude:
- Thanking employees increases productivity. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that grateful leaders motivate their employees to be more productive. In one study involving fundraising calls, employees who were thanked by their managers made 50% more fundraising calls than their co-workers.
- Gratitude improves well-being. Many studies have linked gratitude to better physical health. Grateful people tend to have lower blood pressure, improved immunity, and healthier hearts. Some studies even suggest gratitude can help you live longer
- Gratitude builds mental strength. Studies show grateful people are more resilient. They’re better equipped to manage stress and they experience fewer toxic emotions, like resentment and envy.
- Generosity is contagious. When leaders show appreciation and gratitude, there’s likely to be a ripple effect. Studies show cooperative and altruistic behavior spreads from person to person. Showing gratitude toward someone is likely to inspire that person to thank other people.
- Gratitude increases job satisfaction. Research has linked gratitude to increased job satisfaction. When people feel appreciated, and they show appreciation for what they have, they’re more likely to be happy with their jobs.
How to Show Genuine Gratitude Infusing gratitude into the workplace needs to start at the top. When leaders express gratitude to employees, both the giver and the receiver benefit.
But, it’s important to show gratitude in an authentic and helpful manner. Unfortunately, many organizations provide impersonal ‘thank yous’ that aren’t heartfelt.
That’s why those mugs handed out over the holidays that say something like, “We appreciate you,” are likely to met with an eye roll. And that little pin that everyone gets for staying employed for 10 years doesn’t do much to boost morale either. Small ‘tokens of appreciation’ like those feel artificial and forced.
Even holiday parties that are meant to express employee appreciation often aren’t well attended (unless they’re mandatory). Forced fun and generic platitudes don’t help people feel truly appreciated.
Thanking people simply because a project is complete or because you feel put on the spot won’t do anyone any good. Gratitude needs to be authentic.
So rather than offering a general, “Thank you for all your hard work,” during a meeting, be specific. Say, “I’d like to thank Jenny for staying late on Tuesday so we get the photocopier fixed,” or “Thank you Kyle for always getting the room set up for our meetings.”
Remember that not everyone likes to be thanked publicly. A private thank you might be more meaningful than a public declaration.
Send an email just to show your appreciation. Or, write a simple thank-you note by hand and leave it on someone’s desk.
When you make gratitude a happy, amazing things can happen. Not only will you feel better, but the people around you become inspired to do better. And that simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way to improving your company’s culture.
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and the author of the bestselling book 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.