A strong culture of workplace gratitude is the “X factor” in many companies’ success — and they didn’t build it by waiting around for a lavish recognition budget or the perfect circumstances.
They also didn’t wait for success to start appreciating employees. They practiced and celebrated workplace gratitude early and often.
At American Airlines, for example, former CEO (and creator of frequent flier mile programs) Robert Crandall says the best idea he ever had was to leave his number in the phone book so employees could reach him easily. “Make sure that everybody that works for the company knows that you care personally,” he advises.
Small choices and acts of kindness like this are what feed and grow a culture of workplace gratitude. Studies have shown that the benefits of gratitude are too great to ignore — improved physical and mental health, more goal-oriented productivity and boosted self-confidence, to name a few.
Don’t wait to start practicing gratitude! Read on for five things you can do today to start a gratitude habit and build a culture of workplace gratitude.
Embrace Workplace Gratitude Today: 5 Easy Tips
Start by thinking small. Long-range and big-event planning for employee appreciation will happen more easily and naturally once you and your team already have a daily gratitude habit.
Workplace leaders set the tone with employees, so be sure everyone in HR and leadership — from the CEO to shift managers — is on board to try these gratitude tips.
1. Say ‘Thank You’
How many times today have you thanked someone? Genuine gratitude “is pretty rare in today’s society, which is a shame,” eaHELP CEO and co-founder Bryan Miles tells U.S. News & World Report. Expressing real gratitude is disarming and instantly changes the dynamic of your interaction: “Grateful leaders have stronger, more effective, more loyal teams.”
So make a point to thank more people today. Set a goal — five, ten people — and see how it gets easier to find people to thank as the day goes on, simply by being more aware of your gratitude.
2. Show Compassion with Flexibility
One of the most practical, reliable ways to build workplace gratitude is with flexibility for employees who are struggling to juggle work with caregiving for a sick child or aging parent. Not only is it the compassionate thing to do, they’ll remember your kindness, recognition and trust for a long time to come.
Eventually, your company may want to follow the lead of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which supports a Disability Caregivers Network for parents and other caregivers among its employees. Started by an employee more than a decade ago, the program now has full institutional support and “has become a widely promoted part of the company’s culture,” according to Chicago Tribune I Just Work Here blogger and reporter Rex Huppke’s article, “A Company That Care About Caregivers.”
“It builds a sense of loyalty and commitment and appreciation for the firm,” says Lisa Heskett, a PricewaterhouseCoopers employee who helped start the program. “It’s a feeling of family and inclusiveness, and I think it goes a long way from a retention standpoint.”
3. Share in the Joy of Gift-Giving
Gift-giving is satisfying for giver and recipient alike. “Giving a gift is a universal way to show interest, appreciation and gratitude, as well as strengthen bonds with others,” writes Darice Britt for South University’s SouthSource.
When it comes to employee gift-giving, you don’t have to wait for a big holiday or seek out the most luxurious gifts. Small gifts anytime are just as effective! According to Scientific American, “Simple and practical is good.”
“A 2009 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that although givers tend to think a fancier, expensive gift will be appreciated more, receivers are actually happier with cheaper, more practical presents,” Scientific American’s Sunny Sea Gold writes.
4. Hold a No-Complaining Challenge
Gratitude practices like a “no-complaining challenge” are a great way to re-energize and broaden the scope of workplace wellness programs, according to Employee Benefit Advisor.
How many workplace conversations center around complaining? Bestselling author Tim Ferriss estimates “30-40 percent of all conversations” are wasted in negative criticism and commiserating — so he decided to break from the status quo and take on a personal challenge to go 21 days without complaining. He got the idea from Will Bowen’s book, “A Complaint-Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Enjoy the Life You’ve Always Wanted.”
Ferriss writes about his experience in a blog post, “I Went 21 Days Without Complaining and It Changed My Life.” He identifies four benefits to not complaining:
- Lazy thought patterns evolve into productive, solution-oriented thinking
- Better sleep
- More pleasant conversations
- People want to be around non-complainers — “Training yourself to offer solutions on-the-spot attracts people and resources,” Ferriss writes.
5. Celebrate A Small Win
If your team hits a sales target and you’re already wondering if you can hit the next one, that “big moment” of success will pass uncelebrated, robbing you and your team of gratitude, happiness and motivation.
Don’t wait for a big success to celebrate. Savor and celebrate everyday successes now. A difficult customer interaction handled well, early safety milestones met or a hard-working team putting in a weekend of overtime. Using gratitude to celebrate these daily successes makes employees feel valued and reinforces actions that build the fabric of your culture.
“The problem with chasing success is that the goalpost keeps shifting so success becomes a moving target, as elusive as happiness itself, making it difficult to hold on to,” explains corporate trainer and motivational speaker Jojo Struys.
With your team today, find a small win worth celebrating. Let it motivate future successes and build workplace gratitude!
Wait, There’s More…
For more practical tips on sharing and promoting gratitude every day in your workplace, download our free eBook “Transform Your Workplace With Gratitude.” You’ll find expert advice here on recruiting and retaining a great workforce, engaging employees and building a sustainable culture of appreciation. Can you afford to wait any longer?
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