Employee engagement. Company culture. Turnover, retention, burnout, etc. These, and many other buzzwords, have been tossed around a lot recently, and in our turbulent times, the recent uncertainty is going to continue.
While many solutions have been presented for each of these challenges, not many people are talking about a simple human virtue that can transform your workplace: gratitude.
‘Tis the season for giving, and it’s the perfect time to see the impact of gratitude and strategies to spread feelings of appreciation throughout your organization. But first, a quick science lesson.
Scientific power of gratitude
Gratitude has been scientifically proven to have a huge impact on the giver and receiver’s mental and physical well-being. Here are some examples:
- Practicing gratitude releases serotonin and dopamine, the two “feel good” chemicals that improve mood, willpower, and motivation. And the more gratitude you show, the better your brain is at releasing those chemicals.
- Showing appreciation can strengthen a person’s positive recall bias, or their ability to focus on the positives around them. This ability makes people happier, more optimistic, and less depressed.
- It creates physiological benefits such as fewer chronic illnesses, fewer headaches, stimulated digestion, and improved overall relaxation.
- Showing and receiving gratitude boosts our relationships, strengthening bonds between couples and friends, while motivating the recipient to improve themselves.
- Grateful people suffer 10% fewer stress-related illnesses and have 12% lower blood pressure.
Being grateful can literally change the way our brains work, making us more positive, happy, and motivated, while also improving our physical health and well-being. Now imagine what these positive outcomes can do for your company culture.
How gratitude can impact the workplace
Imagine employees who are motivated and happy, who aren’t as stressed and focus on the positives. Imagine managers showing gratitude to those around them, creating a web of appreciation and value that spreads to everyone.
Imagine a workplace full of happy, motivated, and optimistic employees who collaborate and enjoy what they do. Sounds pretty good, right? When gratitude is shared and felt by everyone at work, happiness increases, stress decreases, and employees feel more satisfied.
And when employees experience these benefits:
- Voluntary turnover lowers by 31%
- Frustration levels sink by 29%
- Motivation and engagement increase
- Health complaints and sick days decrease
It can change a company’s culture for the better, which can make all the difference for employees in these challenging times.
Strategies to spread gratitude
Now that we understand how impactful gratitude can be, let’s jump into the “how.” Spreading feelings of appreciation at work doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, and here are some ways you can accomplish it.
1. Implement employee recognition programs
Whether you start a service award program, a peer-to-peer recognition program, a wellness incentive program, or anything in between, recognition programs are the perfect way to start spreading gratitude. Recognize employees’ efforts, their contributions, and especially the fact that they’re humans and they deserve to be celebrated.
2. Celebrate holidays, milestones
Holidays are some of the best times to recognize employees—not for any specific achievement, but just for spreading feelings of appreciation and good cheer. Use parties, gifts, handwritten notes, money, or whatever works best for you to show your employees you care. As for employee milestones, never let a service anniversary or birthday go by without recognizing employees. Service awards should be personalized and meaningful, and birthdays should make employees feel special. Show them that they matter as an individual, and they’ll respond with greater loyalty and engagement.
3. Spread it from top down
To make gratitude a permanent part of your culture, leaders need to lead the way. Leadership and managers should look for opportunities to express genuine appreciation through one-on-ones, regular check-ins, or just daily interactions. Train managers to notice these opportunities and provide good examples of gratitude for everyone else.
4. Ensure it’s genuine
Spreading feelings of appreciation throughout your culture doesn’t mean aiming for quantity over quality. A heartfelt compliment is worth a dozen impersonal “thank you”s. As part of your training, make sure leadership and employees know how to offer quality, genuine praise. After all, everyone at your organization is unique, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
5. Provide the right tools
Walking up to a person and giving them thanks out of the blue may not be the easiest thing for everyone to do, especially when everyone is busy at work, right? With the right tools, however, gratitude can spread much easier. Whether that’s a recognition platform that allows for personalized messages, a messenger app, or even physical thank you card stations around the office, make expressing gratitude as easy as possible.
Secret to corporate success
Yes, engagement, turnover, burnout, and retention are all things business leaders need to focus on in the coming months. But gratitude is the keystone of business success. Sharing and receiving more gratitude at work can increase all of those buzzwords naturally and effectively. So in this season of giving, find ways to make appreciation a central part of your work culture.