Building an attitude of gratitude at work is a great intrinsic motivator of performance and retention of talent
A culture of ingratitude can have a direct impact on workplace morale and retention. Money is only one of the motivations that may drive us. We also look for respect, a sense of meaning and a sense of accomplishment. Saying “Thank you” doesn’t cost anything, but it has a direct and measurable positive impact. A survey by the John Templeton Foundation of 2,000 Americans found people are less likely to feel or express an attitude of gratitude at work than anyplace else.
The power of “Thank you!”
The majority of respondents reported that saying “thank you” to a coworker made them feel happier and more fulfilled, but only 10% acted on that impulse on a regular basis. A scary 60% of respondents reported neither expressing gratitude at work or that they did it less than twice per year.
Experiments by psychologists Grant and Gino found that a simple “thank you” from a manager gave people a strong sense of both self-worth and self-efficacy. According to Psychologist Alfred Bandura self-efficacy is our belief in our ability to succeed in a particular situation. Additionally gratitude has a spillover effect as we become more trusting with each other, and become more likely to help each other out.
Research shows that the greater the number of gratitude experiences we have each day, the better we feel
Use these 5 research-tested tips for building gratitude at work:
1. Lead from the top.
We need to hear “thank you” from our managers first. When management consistently and authentically says “thank you” in public and private settings, it makes it safer for us to do it too. Gratitude can also be built into our performance reviews and staff meetings. Perhaps you can allocate a five minute session for people to say “thanks” to each other.
2. Thank the invisible people.
Each organisation has employees that are noticed more than others. These high-profile individuals often get more acknowledgement than the “invisible” employees who submit the invoices, mop the floors or the delver the mail. Thanking these individuals is essential as it establishes the tone. Yes, the high-profile individuals are important, but so are the support staff that make the organisation’s wheels turn. Public gratitude of support staff (e.g. administration and cleaning staff ) makes their contributions visible and increases everyone’s understanding of how the organisation functions as a team.
3. Choose quality over quantity.
Forcing someone to be grateful doesn’t work. Prescribed gratitude undermines gratitude, and can make it feel inauthentic. The key is to walk your talk as a leader, create times and a safe space that encourages the voluntary, spontaneous expression of gratitude. Research consistently shows that there is no such thing as too much gratitude. Authentic gratitude is based on sharing specifics; what are you grateful for? Specifics show that you have t have been paying attention, rather than just going through the motions.
4. Create opportunities for gratitude.
When we are thanked for our work, we are more likely to provide help to others. Not everyone likes to be thanked in public, or thank others publicly. Some of us are shy or genuinely modest. The secret is to create many different kinds of opportunities to show gratitude. Research shows that keeping a gratitude journal makes us 25% happier as we start seeing the bright spots in our lives. This practice works best when it encourages us to show gratitude to the people around us. Small gifts can also have the effect of a positive impact on working relationships, non-monetary gifts are often the most beneficial of all. Giving small gifts to acknowledge our gratitude can also be a great way to express our gratitude.
5. In troubled times make time to say “Thank you”.
Building a culture of gratitude might be one of the best ways to help an organisation cope with the stresses that come with change, conflict and economic downturns. According to research by psychologist Robert Emmons a policy and a practice of gratitude helps build up a psychological coping mechanism that can help us cope when we hit hard times. His research shows that grateful people are more resilient when it comes to stress (everyday hassles or major upheavals). Gratitude helps us see beyond one disaster and gain perspective.
Emmons suggest we look for:
- Ways to be thankful for what happened to us after the fact, even though we were not in the moment.
- Lessons we can take away from the experience.
- Skills or abilities we drew on that surprised us.
- Ways we have become better because of the experience.
- Ways the experience helped us tai perspective or feel grateful.
Building gratitude at work as part of the organisation’s culture creates a great place to work and engaged employees.
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