Coworkers high-five kicking off a year of workplace kindness and gratitude

Is it a coincidence that the year begins with holidays focusing on kindness and gratitude … perhaps to help us keep the heartfelt feelings from December alive?

February brings Valentine’s Day on the 14th and Random Acts of Kindness Day on the 17th while March opens with Employee Appreciation Day on the first Friday of the month.  But rather than reserving these sentiments for certain days or weeks, why not carry them forward and make kindness and gratitude a year-round practice in the workplace?

A New Culture of Humanity

In 2020, leaders and managers are recognizing the need to elevate and expand employee experiences to ‘human experiences’ where employees feel valued, authentic and appreciated, and where kindness, gratitude, and workplace love are part of the daily fabric of work life. 

Studies show that when employees experience higher levels of humanity at work, they perform better, are more loyal and are more willing to go the extra mile.  One recent study in the journal Emotion observed acts of kindness in a real-life work environment at Coca Cola’s Madrid headquarters and saw a positive impact throughout the entire workplace culture. The kindness was indeed contagious, with employees reporting a greater sense of well-being and a willingness to reciprocate the acts of kindness. These workers also felt appreciated and cared for by their employer.

Many business and thought-leaders believe a kindness-fueled and more human work culture is here to stay, according to a December 2019 article in Forbes on HR Predictions for 2020. “I predict that the movement toward a more humanistic work culture will only accelerate,” says Susan Cain, co-founder and CEO of Quiet Revolution and best-selling author.

Nataly Kogan, founder of Happier Inc and Happier@ Work, shares this sentiment.

“More and more leaders and companies will make creating a culture of gratitude, kindness and psychological safety a strategic priority in 2020.”

And Josh Bersin, founder of the Josh Bersin Academy, takes it a step further as he writes in “Our New Role: Bringing Kindness to Work” that kindness at work has now become fundamental to the workplace.

Putting it into Practice

Celebrate your workplace with a thoughtful catered party

Whether you want to jump-start employee kindness and gratitude programs around Employee Appreciation Day, or are looking for ways to expand your efforts, here are some helpful ideas big and small:

  • Just Say Thank You
    Saying thank you often and with sincerity is the best way to let your employees know you appreciate them and their contributions.  It can be a hand-written or digital note, a call-out at an informal or formal meeting, or simply singing the praises of your employee to another colleague.  Nothing feels better than acknowledgement and appreciation.

    Not sure how to make your thank you meaningful? We have the perfect resource for you – “Writing Thank You Notes Employees Will Treasure” free from gThankYou.
  • Do Something Special
    Consider kicking off a series of Employee Appreciation activities by hosting a special team get-together on Friday, with activities such as a donuts and delights morning wake-up, a surprise sundae social, pizza and pop, etc. Or surprise your workplace with a catered spread with invites for partners and spouses.

    If your group is small, consider giving each employee a little gift of appreciation with a customized note acknowledging their contributions and why they are appreciated. Set expectations that this culture of gratitude is here to stay and that other employee appreciation events will follow.
  • Wall of Gratitude
    Consider building an office ‘Wall of Gratitude’ that aligns with different bi-weekly or monthly themes of gratitude, recognizing employees who best demonstrate the featured theme.

    Recognition can be either formal or informal, with employees encouraged to contribute to the wall with quotes or share their own examples of colleagues who exemplified ‘random acts of kindness and gratitude’.  You can even ask customers to contribute. All gratitude recipients could then be eligible for quarterly ‘Grand Gratitude’ awards.
  • Just Ask
    Kick-off a Gratitude campaign by asking employees what would make them feel most appreciated in the workplace and design your ongoing program accordingly, where possible. Perhaps employees would value a bonus vacation day for the year, or a few hours off each month to volunteer at their child’s school, or access to training to pursue a hobby or interest they are passionate about.  Even if you can’t meet all their gratitude requests, asking for their input will go a long way.

Additional Inspiration for Employee Appreciation Day:

Looking for last-minute inspiration for Employee Appreciation Day? Share some workplace love and appreciation with the ideas below via these links. After all, who wouldn’t be touched with the gift of a bag of lifesavers and a heartfelt note saying “Thank You for being a Life Saver”?

Whatever gratitude path you choose, enter the new decade with resolve to infuse the transformative powers of gratitude, kindness and appreciation in your workplace. These powerful feelings can be contagious, so sprinkle them generously and everywhere.

Resources to help build your Year of Workplace Kindness and Gratitude:

Click to Download Your FREE "2020 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar"

We hope you find this the year that kindness and gratitude define your relationship with colleagues and customers and the foundation of your workplace culture.

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