10 Ways to Show Gratitude at Work

Gratitude is a non-monetary way to support those non-monetary motivations. “Thank you” doesn’t cost a dime, and it has measurably beneficial effects.The benefits of gratitude go beyond a sense of self-worth, self-efficacy, and trust between employees.

Building a culture of gratitude at work is not easy. It takes time and practice to cultivate a culture of gratitude in the work place. Grateful behavior can facilitate positive interpersonal and community relationships that may in turn influence other key outcomes. Effectively applied in the workplace, for instance, gratitude may positively impact such factors as job satisfaction, loyalty, and citizenship behavior, while reducing employee turnover and increasing organizational profitability and productivity. In addition to the external benefits of gratitude accruing to recipients and their organizations, research surrounding gratitude identifies several positive impacts that await individuals who express gratitude to others. In turn, these personal benefits may also work to the advantage of organizations.

Four years ago, it was the vision of Depo International’s CEO Patricia Carl to instill the daily practice of gratitude in her own life and pass it along to her family, friends and co-workers. Today, Depo International is known for having a company culture of gratitude from the CEO on down. 

Here are 10 ways to express Gratitude in the workplace:

Happy business people laughing against white background

1. Aim for quality, not quantity – Forcing people to be grateful doesn’t work. It feeds the power imbalances that undermine gratitude in the first place, and it can make expressions of gratitude feel inauthentic.The key is to create times and spaces that foster the voluntary, spontaneous expression of gratitude. It’s also the case that studies consistently show that there is such a thing as too much gratitude—it seems trying to be grateful everyday induces gratitude fatigue.How do you convey authenticity? Details are decisive. When you are specific about the benefits of a person, action, or thing, it increases your own appreciation—and it tells a person that you are paying attention, rather than just going through the motions.

2. Be humble – If you’re a leader, you know down in your gut that what you’re leading doesn’t have much to do with you.  Your team looks to you for leadership and guidance. Be grateful for the team that works hard to move your business forward. Similarly, as a team member, recognize your role in ensuring your team continues to move forward. Be grateful for everyone around you, and don’t be shy about expressing appreciation

3. It must start from the top down – The first place that employees will look to for gratitude is their superiors. Feelings of being appreciated by those above them will go a long way toward creating a culture of thankfulness at all levels. Organizations model the behavior of those who are in positions of power. Lack of appreciation from above will show up at all levels; lack of appreciation of coworkers, loss of workplace morale, and higher staff turnover. (original quote found here)

4.Tailor your gratitude – Just because you may enjoy being praised in front of others doesn’t mean that everyone does. Some people are shy and even feel embarrassed to be called out in front of their peers or a group. Know the individual (or ask fellow colleagues that know them best, if you are not sure) and give some thought as to the best way to recognize them. Instead of giving everyone the same recognition gift, find out what the person would appreciate. It takes more time and effort, but the receiver will appreciate it more. (original quote found here)

5. Catch your co-workers doing something right – We’re pretty good at catching people doing things wrong, but don’t always put the same energy into “catching” people doing something right. Be on the lookout for your co-workers doing great things, and then point them out in a very clear, specific way. With this positive feedback, your co-worker knows that you are being sincere and can then go on to share their own gratitude.

6. Make someone’s day – Everyone appreciate a genuine thank you. Say “thank you” whenever you can. Thank-you-post-it

7. Create opportunities to think about and share gratitudeHow about starting your monthly meeting by going around the room and having everyone express one thing they are grateful for? Or start a gratitude book for the office that everyone could write in to thank others or mention something good that has happened at work or at home. Discuss ways that you can make gratitude an important theme at your workplace.

8. Put a stickie note somewhere random that’ll make someone smile – Try putting one on your co-workers computer screen where they will see it first thing in the morning. This is sure to brighten their day and let them know how grateful you are for them.

9. Buy Lunch for the Office – There IS a such thing as free lunch. Find out where your co-workers like to eat and buy them lunch. Better yet, offer to take them out for lunch individually and use this as an opportunity to express your gratitude for all of their hard work.

10. Hand write a thank you note – Sure, it takes a bit more effort and your penmanship is probably terrible from a lack of use, but this little effort goes a long way.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John F. Kennedy

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