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Gratitude in the Workplace: Its Benefits and 5 Ways to Get Started Today

March 23, 2023

The month of November sparks feelings of gratitude and generosity for many of us. And while this feeling is present for so many of us individually, we oftentimes don’t find a space for it at the office. But research is suggesting we should be bringing gratitude into the workplace. From increased engagement and productivity to better mental and physical health, it’s time gratitude found its place at work.


What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is being thankful or showing appreciation. It sounds simple enough, but some researchers have further categorised gratitude into three groups:

  • a trait, which is a person's overall tendency to have a grateful disposition,
  • a mood, or the daily fluctuations in overall gratitude, and
  • an emotion, which is a temporary feeling that one may feel after receiving a gift or a favor.

While all three types of gratitude have value, gratitude as an emotion is typically the most accessible version to introduce into the workplace. Learning to look for these frequent, temporary feelings of gratitude can, in time, lead to a more grateful overall disposition.


Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

While we all like the feeling of being thanked or complimented, the “warm fuzzies” aren’t the only benefit to practicing gratitude.

In fact, research has linked gratitude practices with potentially improving immune system function, better mental health, and it may even reduce the risks associated with heart failure. Other studies have also linked gratitude with improving relationships and helping people become more optimistic.

But when gratitude takes place at work, it doesn’t just affect the individuals involved – it benefits the whole organisation.

A study by the American Psychological Association found that 93% of employees “who reported feeling valued said that they are motivated to do their best at work.” Additionally, 88 percent reported feeling engaged in their work.

Furthermore, research has even found that when employees believe their efforts will be recognised, they’re 2.7x more likely to be highly engaged in their work.

And if you’re wondering how important engagement really is, a report from Gallup found that business that scored in the top quartile in employee engagement have nearly double the odds of success when compared with those in the bottom quartile. Those at the 99th percentile have four times the success rate of those at the first percentile.

In short, gratitude makes employees feel valued. When employees feel valued, they’re more likely to be engaged with their work. When engagement is high, businesses perform better.

So how can you start incorporating gratitude practices into the workplace?


RELATED: Workplace Wellness Activities: 16 Ways to Support Employee Wellbeing


How to Show Gratitude in the Workplace

There are countless ways to practice gratitude at work, but we’ve outlined five simple and effective ideas you can start today.


Start meetings with a quick gratitude check in

This may not be appropriate for all meetings all the time, but it could be the right fit for a standing weekly team check-in. Try starting the meeting by asking everyone what’s one thing they were thankful for this past week.

This can be a great, low-pressure way to get your teams to start looking for things that went well for them – even if all it is was a particularly good cup of coffee. It also can reduce stress and help foster genuine connection amongst team members.


Start a Thank-You Note campaign

Consider starting a campaign (maybe in the week or two leading up to Thanksgiving), where employees are encouraged to write a thank you note to a colleague. Provide note cards, pens, and envelopes to make getting started a bit easier. You could also have a drop box where people can deposit their written notes, and then have HR or a wellness coordinator distribute them.

It may seem like an extra step or two than just simply telling a coworker, “Thank you.” But the extra steps are worth it. Because written notes are rare in the era of emails and text messages, they have a sense of value. So much so, many people keep handwritten notes for years as keepsakes. A note isn’t just a note, it’s a gift.


Create a gratitude calendar

There are plenty of gratitude calendars available online that you can download, print, and distribute, or feel free to make your own! Either way, the intention is that each day has a gratitude prompt to help people learn to practice gratitude in their daily lives.

For example, these prompts might include writing three things you usually take for granted or going one full day without complaining. The goal is to get your team to think differently, and by doing so, change their


Give out unique employee awards

Consider giving out employee awards besides the expected Employee of the Month. This is meant to be a fun, but still genuine, way to engage the whole office so think of something unique.

For example, what about a Make Things Happen Award for the person on your team who doesn’t hesitate to jump in and take words to action. Or a The Customer is Always Right award for someone on the customer care team who effectively handled a difficult customer. These unique awards show your team that you notice their specific talents and you appreciate them.


Start a recognition program

If you’d like to build gratitude into your company’s culture on a larger scale, consider investing in a recognition program. A recognition platform or software can help make sending and receiving gratitude simple, easy, and frequent.

These platforms are great for sending peer-to-peer, manager-driven, and teams-based recognition so everyone can be a part of the process, regardless of if they’re remote, deskless, or shift workers.

People can also choose to send either public or private recognition, so employees are sure to be thanked in a way that resonates most with them. Social recognition platforms can also streamline a company-wide recognition program into one digital hub.


Getting Started

Whether you choose to build gratitude into your company’s bigger values or try it out for a festive wellness challenge, you’re sure to notice the benefits. And if you’d like to learn more about social recognition platforms, contact us today to learn more.

The Terryberry 360 Recognition Platform offers a comprehensive solution that can host your recognition efforts, including milestone and service awards, peer-to-peer social recognition, feedback and communication, and employee benefits.


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