Workplace Burnout Has Worsened During Pandemic
NPR’s Life Kit recently addressed the growing problem of workplace burnout. They shared results from a survey supported by Harvard Business Review from the fall of 2020 which indicated that burnout is a global problem (respondents were from 46 countries) that has gotten worse during the pandemic.
Here are some statistics:
- 89% of respondents said work life was getting worse.
- 85% said well-being had declined.
- 56% said demands had increased.
- 62% of those struggling to manage their workloads experienced burnout “often” or “extremely often” in previous three months.
- 57% of employees felt that pandemic had a “large effect on” or “completely dominated” their work.
Spring is always a season of hope, and after the past year of dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on our work and personal lives, the promise of a hopeful and bright spring of 2021 seems especially important.
“Spring will come and so will happiness. Hold on. Life will get warmer.”
Give the Gift of Groceries in Celebration of SpringMany companies have a long tradition of celebrating Easter or spring in the workplace. It’s still important to share that sense of appreciation to employees, particularly when we take a moment to reflect on the challenges of the past year. No matter how you and your team celebrate Spring, the practical gift of groceries is something that will resonate with everyone in an meaningful way – especially during our pandemic recovery. It’s one gift that is always welcomed and appreciated by all.gThankYou Grocery Gift Certificates can be redeemed for any combination of food items at major grocery stores anywhere in the U.S.
Recipients can choose the center piece of a holiday meal such as an Easter ham, healthy basics like fruits and vegetables and/or a special dessert. They choose what their family needs and will enjoy most. Recipients will appreciate your thoughtful gift and acknowledgement of their role in helping your organization weather the challenges of the past year.
All gThankYou purchases come with free customizable gift Enclosure Cards. Perfect for your personal note of appreciation and thanks. Choose from dozens of seasonal designs and have us add your organization logo too! We want you to love it!
Brought to you by Elsie Weisskoff with REDBUBBLE Life
February is the month of love and kindness. While some people thoroughly enjoy the multitude of candy hearts, red roses and pink teddy bears, others would rather skip right through to March. But February is much more than Valentine’s Day – it’s the month of kindness! Take advantage of this time to show compassion and support to colleagues at work. We all need a little extra appreciation these days.
We admire the work that the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has been doing for years. February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness day and this year’s theme is Explore the Good which is the perfect mindset for 2021. They have a plethora of ideas, tips, inspiring quotes, materials like posters and calendars and even dedicated workplace materials. Check it out! Consider becoming a RAKtivist® (short for ‘Random Acts of Kindness activist).
It’s been proven that one random act of kindness a day can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Acts of kindness also release hormones that make you calmer, healthier and overall happier.
“When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.”
At REDBUBBLE Life we’ve recently shared “14 Days of Socially Distant Love and Kindness” to inspire kindness this month. We are thrilled to share workplace specific examples for gThankYou readers below!
The Workplace Has Changed
Our work lives have been transformed by the pandemic. Despite the optimism brought by vaccine approvals, the fact remains it may be a long-time before we are back to business as normal, if at all.
This new world of work provides both challenges and opportunities for recruiting, nurturing and retaining employees. Workplace leaders recognize the value of being creative and adaptive during these times.
Josh Bersin, HR industry expert, sees this time “as an incredible opportunity to transform”. “Companies are treating employees better than ever.” There is a new focus on protecting employees’ “personal productivity, wellbeing and personal resilience.”
Rethinking Employee Engagement and Appreciation
Our Employee Celebration Calendar could not come at a more needed time.
We have created a resource that presumes social distancing and remote work will dominate 2021. And, one that provides the inspiration and creative ideas to help keep employees feeling valued and important to the success of your organization in the uncertain year ahead.
Take advantage of this unique time to invest in employee engagement. Our popular one-of-a-kind resource provides the fresh perspective and resources you need to retool your employee appreciation efforts for today’s workplace.
Showing appreciation is even more crucial now.
As Sabina Nawaz wrote in a Harvard Business Review article about how a little thanks goes a long way:
“Research clearly indicates expressing gratitude is beneficial to our health and well-being. During a crisis, taking the time to thank others is vital to dampen loneliness, amp up social connection and generate generosity.”
We’ve curated a collection of impactful and inspiring articles, resources, best practices, stats and quotes that will help guide you through 2021.
The year ahead may still present challenges, but it also provides new opportunities to build connections with employees. Eileen McNeely, a Harvard School of Public Health researcher, shared that her team’s studies indicate that caring and empathy from management and employee trust in management is a “great driver of well-being.”
As we wrote in the intro to the 2021 calendar, we’ve seen success stories emerging during the pandemic that underscore what we have known all along — HR leaders are nimble, creative and passionate. The calendar is a reflection of gThankYou’s commitment to helping workplace leaders who continue to create loyal workforces and cultures of appreciation, even during a pandemic.
Your free 2021 Employee Celebration Calendar will guide you through each month with:
- Research-based suggestions for building a culture of gratitude.
- Monthly celebration ideas to engage employees.
- Recommendations for current, topical resources.
- Inspiring and current real-world examples.
Don’t wait! Download your free copy now and share with colleagues. We hope the new year brings fresh optimism and hope for the future. Visit our website for more free resources for building a lasting workplace culture of gratitude.
Your friends at gThankYou
Thanksgiving is America’s holiday of gratitude. It will never be canceled. But it will be different this year. Smaller gatherings, no travel and reunions going on-line.
In these times, gratitude means more than ever. Your staff has conquered unprecedented challenges we never imagined. Your team deserves all the recognition you can offer.
Unite in a Spirit of Gratitude
If your workplace family can’t be together in person this year, have you considered a virtual Thanksgiving event?
Colleagues have grown accustomed to meeting and socializing via platforms like Zoom. According to Business of Apps, Zoom was seeing 200 million daily meeting participants in March 2020 and 300 million in April. The week of Thanksgiving is an excellent opportunity to bring together your remote workplace community for some online warmth, positivity and gratitude.
What about your annual office Halloween party?
Health experts recommend skipping in-person gatherings this year — especially in areas with high COVID-19 levels. But you can still have plenty of spooky seasonal fun online.
Holiday parties have always been a great way to help employees bond and burn off stress, and to recognize their hard work. That matters more now than it ever has.
Mix some fun and creativity and you can host a virtual Halloween party! Your colleagues will appreciate the efforts to keep the Halloween spirit alive despite the pandemic.
Here’s how to get started:
We are extremely grateful for our fantastic customers who enjoy giving gThankYou Gift Certificates to employees and customers for the holidays and year-round. It’s our pleasure to partner with leaders who understand that thoughtful, practical, easy-to-use gifts are an excellent way to show gratitude.
Every organization has their own unique stories of sharing gratitude.
We are excited to share three customer case studies of organizations who use gThankYou Gift Certificates to share gratitude in different ways with their workplace teams. We hope it provides inspiration and insight for sharing gratitude in your workplace. You can find all of these and download PDFs to share with your management on our new gThankYou Case Studies page!
Nothing tells a story better than satisfied customers and thousands of happy employees!
gThankYou Case Studies
Growing Company Keeps Turkey-Giving Tradition Alive
Join Us on the #WorkTrends Twitter Chat this Wednesday at 1:30 pm EST
Our CMO, Liz King, recently spoke with Talent Culture rock star Meghan M. Biro about the importance of workplace gratitude on this week’s #WorkTrends Podcast.
You can read Meghan’s Blog and listen to the podcast here: “#WorkTrends: The Power of Workplace Gratitude with Liz King“.
We hope you’ll join us or listen to the podcast anytime!
Your Turkey Gift to Employees is More Important than Ever
The pandemic has changed lives and dramatically changed our workplaces.
For many of us, we have lost the in-person connection with employees – the ability to smile, share a handshake or genuinely thank someone in person.
Employees need to feel secure right now in knowing that they are valued. If you have company holiday traditions that are near and dear to your team, respect them. Find a way to make them work in our new work world. Many employees are relying on that cash bonus or holiday turkey gift that they have always received.
Thanksgiving and the holiday season have always been an opportunity for workplace leaders to share their gratitude and appreciation to employees. Your appreciation and thanks are more important than ever this holiday season.
The gift of a Thanksgiving turkey has long been a valued and meaningful gift for employees. The tradition of turkey gift-giving is revered by many companies, and for some, distributing frozen turkeys is a beloved tradition that is decades old.
This year especially, the practical gift of food is something everyone can appreciate and can share with family. The gift of the centerpiece of the holiday meal is a truly meaningful and appreciated gift by all.
If you are new to turkey gift-giving, download our free PDF, “10 Reasons to Give Employees a Turkey for the Holidays” and share with colleagues.
Pandemic Makes Frozen Turkey Gifts Unpractical and Unsafe
The reality of a literal gift hand-off this year brings about a variety of challenges.
Firstly, safety is paramount. Commitment to employee safety continues to be in the spotlight for good reason. The pandemic means leaders can’t go desk to desk shaking hands; gatherings of employees exchanging pleasantries and holiday goodies simply isn’t feasible or legal in some cases. And, a socially distanced line of masked employees to receive a frozen just isn’t that safe or appealing.
Secondly, many workforces are partially or wholly remote at this point making frozen turkey gift-giving logistics simply unfeasible.
No need to worry! gThankYou can help.
You can keep your beloved turkey gift tradition this year with gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificates. Employees choose the brand, preparation and size turkey that their family would like, at major grocery stores nationally. No messy frozen bird logistics to manage plus flexibility in distribution for in-person and remote workplaces.Gratitude in our personal and professional lives is a trending topic these days, but when we first introduced our popular ebook, Transforming Your Workplace With Gratitude, in 2013 we were in the vanguard of the workplace gratitude movement as it relates to company culture and employee engagement.
Sharing new information related to this fascinating topic through our publications and blog has long been a priority. In the face of the worldwide pandemic, gratitude is again a popular topic. Be sure to check out our recent post, “Pandemic Makes Workplace Gratitude More Important than Ever”.Since its introduction, our eBook on workplace gratitude has been a helpful guide for companies, large and small, as they learned to embrace an attitude of gratitude. Over the last five years, research has underscored the power of gratitude in our lives.
This growing body of research demonstrates that companies that make an effort to appreciate employees are among the most successful, most innovative companies in the world and have the highest rates of employee satisfaction and retention.
Our original 2013 version has been completely rewritten with a focus on how to build authentic appreciation in the workplace today. While the key element in achieving that remains gratitude, the book is an exciting resource for businesses who are either curious to learn more as they embark on this journey or remain committed to sustaining a culture of appreciation. We will continue to update this popular eBook as the world of gratitude research evolves.
Why We Love Workplace Gratitude
In his book “The Little Book of Gratitude,” the world’s foremost gratitude expert, Professor Robert A. Emmons, calls gratitude “the ultimate performance-enhancing substance.” Who wouldn’t want that in the workplace?
Imagine what your work team could accomplish with a 50 percent jump in productivity. What if you could slash voluntary turnover by 31 percent?
Part of the answer lies in just two words: “Thank you.” Experts agree that authentic gratitude makes all the difference.
“Thank you” is more than good manners. it’s a powerful force that elevates employee wellbeing, loyalty, productivity and business performance. Not convinced? Download our free eBook and learn why leading business executives take workplace appreciation very seriously.
We feel strongly about the transformative power of gratitude and think you will too!
This summer doesn’t look or feel like most summers. If you traditionally host a staff picnic, BBQ or summer retreat, it’s likely that the pandemic prohibited you from holding those events.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have summertime fun. While the heat of the season is here, host a virtual ice cream social!
Consider providing team members with a Certificate for Ice Cream from gThankYou which can be redeemed for any brand and flavor of ice cream at major grocery stores across the U.S. Certificates are available in $5 and $10 values.
You can even make a “ice cream sundae to-go bag” for remote workers and include shelf stable toppings such as sprinkles, chocolate, caramel or fruit sauce and cones.
Share your Ice Cream Certificates prior to your planned virtual event so everyone has a chance to shop and be ready for the party. If you prefer, or have workers outside the US, partner with a local ice cream shop and have them supply and deliver the ingredients.
First responders were always at the frontlines, heroically confronting risks to their own safety and well being. High stress and trauma were already part of their realities. But the COVID-19 pandemic has exponentially increased that risk, stress and trauma. Employers of first responders are thinking of ways to better support and appreciate first responders and how changes to the workplace might help.
Right now public outpourings showing appreciation of the tremendously important and brave work of first responders has become more commonplace, but it’s important not to let those expressions of thanks and gratitude waiver as our country cautiously begins to open back up again after being on lockdown.
Keep in mind that first responders will be grappling with the trauma of what they have been called on to cope with during this pandemic for a very long time. This impact on their mental health and feelings about their jobs will likely be profoundly felt and long lasting.
As workforce leaders find their way through the COVID-19 world, defining ways to keep remote workers happy and engaged is of utmost importance. Remote working isn’t new to the world of work, but for many industries and people, it’s a brand new endeavor.
According to the New York Times, “In a May working paper, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor in management science at M.I.T., and a group of academics reported survey results indicating that half of those who were employed before the pandemic were now working remotely. That’s a significant increase — pre-Covid-19, the paper estimates, the figure was about 15 percent. (In 2018, a U.S. Census Bureau survey found that just 5.3 percent of Americans worked from home full time.).”
According to SHRM, “This working arrangement may seem exciting at first, but it can lose its appeal over time, resulting in disengaged employees. And, when employees aren’t engaged, their productivity and motivation can suffer.”
As passionate champions of happy, productive workplaces, we’ve gathered some suggestions for embracing remote workers to keep the engine running on all cylinders.
With stress and uncertainty at high levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing your sincere workplace gratitude is more important than ever.
Even if your employees seem to be keeping it together and are being productive, it could be that they are anxious, depressed and fearful as they face increased pressure at home while possibly dealing with unfamiliar ways of getting their work done.
Harvard Business Review in an article highlighting how a little thanks goes a long way in this time of crisis, writer Sabina Nawaz puts together several strategies that you can implement to underscore just how grateful you are for your team and their efforts.
HBR reminds us that:
“Research clearly indicates expressing gratitude is beneficial to our health and well-being. We’re happier when we’re grateful. During a crisis, taking the time to thank others is vital to dampen loneliness, amp up social connections, and generate generosity.”
In the article, a busy academic executive said “I’m so busy fighting fires from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. that I don’t have time to acknowledge the work my team is doing.” If you also feel too swamped to focus on gratitude, the suggestions provided are relatively easy to achieve, even during these tumultuous times.
Let’s start this blog post with kudos for you for hanging in there during these uncertain and challenging times. That you’re taking the time to click on this post shows your commitment to staying engaging with and supporting your remote employees. So hat’s off to you for remaining curious and committed to bringing out the best in your staff.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a host of challenges to everyone and we are seeing that people are dealing with those challenges in different ways.
Maybe you already had remote employees at your company so your challenge was expanding that scenario to many more employees. Or perhaps you are like many companies who find themselves dealing with a remote workforce for the first time.
No matter where you are on that spectrum, there are ideas and strategies to help you support your remote workers and make sure they feel engaged and appreciated. We’ll address leadership during challenging times, new rules for remote work and finally, how to recognize remote workers.
There isn’t just one recipe for success when it comes to employee recognition; there are many thoughtful ways to acknowledge employees’ dedication and hard work. Leaders who take the time and energy to show employee gratitude year-round end up with happier team members and a more enjoyable workplace.
We couldn’t agree more with this recent Forbes article that states,
“Never underestimate the power of ‘thank you.’ Everyone wants to feel recognized and appreciated, so encourage employees to thank the people around them, including their colleagues, senior leaders, and employers, on a regular basis, year-round.”
So what are you waiting for? It’s always the “time of year” for gratitude!
Celebrate Spring in the Workplace
Right now, many people are gearing up for Easter (Sunday, April 12). While not everyone celebrates this holiday, it can easily be regarded as a “Spring into Spring” workplace celebration with chocolate, bunnies, family meals and egg-hunting – which everyone would welcome and enjoy.
If you have concerns about tackling Easter at work, take a look at our blog post about Why You Should Celebrate Easter in the Workplace. It is chock full of ideas about how to make Easter-ish and spring workplace celebrations entertaining and appropriate for everyone!
Another resource is “4 Easter Employee Engagement Ideas For Your Office.” Dying eggs is easy and relaxing, allowing employees to chat while dipping. And a Peep diorama? How fun would that be? Check out these creative winners!
Share the Gift of an Easter Ham
If you are pondering how to shower employees with a “Happy Spring” thank you, consider the gift of a holiday ham. For many, the gift of a ham for Easter is a valued and welcome gift. It evokes family and underscores the joy and warmth that comes from sharing a special meal together. gThankYou makes it easy to share the gift of ham – during springtime or whenever you want to share your workplace appreciation.
Want more choice? Consider our Ham or Turkey Gift Certificate. Recipients choose what’s best for the centerpiece of their family celebration.
Be sure to check out our Spring cards selection, they are guaranteed to brighten someone’s day and are always free with any purchase.
Thinking you’d rather go the sweet route? How about a Candy Gift Certificate? Since sugar makes the world go ‘round, this is always a fan favorite for employee appreciation gifts. There are so many seasonal candy classics like jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and of course Peeps in every color.
Our Holiday Ham Guide Gift for You!
At gThankYou, we love a delicious, juicy ham with all the fixings. That’s why we created our Ultimate Holiday Ham Guide – so everyone can cook a a crowd-pleasing ham! Our Guide is packed with pages of ham goodness, including an exploration and explanation of the different kinds of ham, cooking tips, menu planning ideas, food safety strategies, recipes and much more!
And even better, it’s FREE for you! Download it now and share with colleagues and friends. Give this guide/cookbook with your gift of a holiday ham and delight your recipients. They will appreciate getting not just the centerpiece of their meal, but all of the helpful hints contained in the guide.
Do you want to learn new ways to glaze a ham? Interested in how to properly cook and carve? Intrigued by new recipes that inspire novice and top chefs alike? Then look no further! Check out the Ultimate Holiday Ham Guide for inspiration and practical advice.
Happy spring and Easter from your friends at gThankYou! We appreciate YOU.
Building and sustaining a workplace culture of appreciation requires vision, long-term commitment and strong execution.
Research proves appreciating employees day-in and day-out enhances engagement, fuels productivity, retains employees and transforms workplace culture.
And at it’s heart, appreciating employees means finding and making opportunities to share your heartfelt and sincere thanks – now and throughout the year.
gThankYou’s “2020 Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar“ – is your unique how-to guide for building that vibrant, lasting culture of appreciation that employees will love.
How-to Guide Provides Research & Tools for Celebrating Employees – FREE!
In this one-of-a-kind eBook, we give you the tools to educate and inspire you to build an everyday culture of appreciation.
This year’s fresh and fun engagement and appreciation Calendar contains:
- Recent trends in employee appreciation, engagement and gratitude in the workplace
- Creative ideas for employee appreciation
- New case studies of appreciation in action
- Exciting new resources for building a healthier, happier workplace.
It’s the perfect resource to inspire 2020 employee engagement and appreciation planning!
Every year at this time, we share our brand-new Day-to-Day Employee Appreciation and Celebration Calendar for the coming year. It’s free and our holiday gift to you and your colleagues!
Easy Month-by-Month Celebrations
Each month identifies “Don’t Miss Celebrations” and “Ready-to-Go Celebrations” to make your job engaging and appreciation colleagues easier and more fun! Use our ideas “as is” or modify them to better meet your needs.
This Calendar resource is intended to inspire your employee engagement and appreciation planning. Use our examples and ideas for a basis of brainstorming with your team for GREAT ideas that fit your workplace culture.
Let us know what works well for you and we might feature you in next year’s Calendar!!
Get a jump start on 2020 by downloading your free copy now and sharing with colleagues!
We wish you and your colleagues an inspired and joyful new year!
One of our favorite moments is when we unveil the new Enclosure Cards for Christmas and the winter holidays. It’s our own little version of the traditional tree-lighting. 🎄
This season, we have some exciting new designs to help you offer a meaningful “thank you” to your hardworking team members.
Write a Note of Appreciation
What do employees want most for the holidays? Your appreciation and thanks for their efforts, loyalty and contributions.
When you share your holiday employee gifts, include a sincere and heartfelt note of gratitude. It will transform your gift-giving – lifting spirits, making your gift memorable and ensuring recipients feel valued and appreciated.
It’s why we offer attractive Enclosure Cards for the holidays and everyday occasions – free with every purchase so all gThankYou gifts are wrapped in gratitude.
New Holiday Card Designs
Whether you prefer elegant or playful, snowy scenes or strings of lights, “happy holidays” or “peace and joy,” there’s an appealing holiday-themed Enclosure Card to fit your company’s style. Create your own message of appreciation or use one of ours – Click to see all our Christmas and Winter Card Designs.
Here are our newest additions for your holiday note of cheer and gratitude:
Download a Catalog of Popular Designs
Want a PDF of our popular designs to share with colleagues?
As always, gThankYou Enclosure Cards come free with any purchase of our Certificates of Gratitude. Choose your favorite design, include a thoughtfully-crafted message of appreciation and sign it in text or with a logo. We’ll gladly send you a proof to approve, and we’ll make edits until you love it!
There’s still time to give the workplace holiday gift everyone loves. Order your gThankYou Certificates of Gratitude now – for ham or turkey, pie, ice cream or groceries and let your holiday gratitude bring joy and appreciation to your workplace.
Wishing you and your colleagues a wonderful holiday season.
As we approach celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, this quote from Melody Beattie beautifully reminds us of the transformative power of gratitude at the holidays – and every day.
Beattie knows about the transformative power of gratitude having survived a traumatic childhood, addiction and the loss of a child but emerging from this to live a a full and rewarding life. After having an epiphany in rehab that got her to focus her energies on “the right things,” she became a renowned self-help author (she literally wrote the book on codependency, followed by many other bestsellers) and remains a celebrated writer and an inspiring beacon for many struggling with addiction and grief. The daily meditations on her website (or apps) are a good way to start or end your day!
Let’s break down what she said in this quote because while it’s the perfect quote as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it’s also a powerful reminder for us to look at every day through the lens of gratitude.
“Unlocks the fullness of life…”
Who doesn’t want to live their life fully, experiencing the maximum of satisfaction and joy at both home and at work. Gratitude opens our eyes to the beauty and goodness of the world around us. It energizes us and brings hope. Sharing gratitude brings out the best in those around us too.
“Turns what we have into enough…”
Gratitude allows us to be thankful for the abundance of good things in life and not be driven by societal or selfish needs. Gratitude helps us realize we are, and we have, enough.
Research finds that “just acting grateful can make you feel grateful” says Arthur C. Brooks in “Choose to be Grateful. It will make you Happier.” He goes on to say:
“If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.”
“…turns denial into acceptance…”
Gratitude let’s us enjoy relatives and friends for who they are – imperfections and all. And, most importantly accepting ourselves for doing the best we can. Gratitude heals.
In a recent Forbes article on gratitude, positive psychologist researcher and author Robert Emmons “cites research showing the effectiveness of gratitude in buffering stress and building resilience. He even recommends a strategy he calls “Remember the bad.” The point is not to dwell on the negative, but to look back and reflect on difficult experiences and how we got through them. In doing so, we learn not to take our current blessings for granted. We are also reminded of the resources that helped us weather past storms.”
“…chaos to to order, confusion to clarity…”
Stopping to take a breath and reframing stress that can come at the holidays (or any day) is an opportunity to clear your mind and re-prioritize what’s important. Being grateful helps put what’s really important in perspective.
“…turns a meal into a feast, a house into a home and a stranger to a friend.”
No matter the scale of the meal, gratitude for the bounty and those we share it with turns any occasion into a “feast”.
Thanksgiving is a holiday uniquely steeped in a history of gratitude. It’s the one time of year we treat everyone as family. It’s gratitude that allows us to open our hearts and our homes.
This holiday season share your gratitude and share in the joy you spread.
Wherever and however you celebrate Thanksgiving, we hope the meal becomes a feast of gratitude for you and your loved ones.
By Cheryl Baker, Co-Founder and Director of Social Capital, Give and Take, Inc.
When you hear the term “contagion,” what image comes to mind? Disease. Panic in mass crowds. Viral social media trends. Perhaps this time of year, you think of the flu.
Scientists have found that within groups, thoughts and moods can be just as contagious as physical diseases or behaviors. In a phenomenon called emotional contagion, researchers have observed that “individuals tend to express and feel emotions that are similar to those of others,” seeming to “catch” the feelings of those around them.
While the word “contagion” often carries a negative connotation, research on the benefits of emotional contagion has shown that this ripple effect may be a secret workplace weapon for productivity and engagement. If you have a culture of generosity and appreciation, you’ve likely seen this in action.
Not sure if you have a generous workplace?
This free quiz will give you some idea of where you stand today.
If you still have some work to do in terms of building a generous culture, it may help to educate employees on the benefits of generosity in the workplace. It’s more than just giving to United Way during the annual drive. It’s about making a commitment to share your time, talent, expertise, connections, advice, and help in ways that don’t overextend throughout the year.
Why should we give?
Here’s the good news for leaders: creating a culture of giving is great for your workers, but extensive research shows why building a sustainably collaborative culture is good for companies. It makes companies more efficient, innovative and productive. It increases profitability and revenue. It improves customer satisfaction and employee retention. It’s the classic win/win.
Sometimes, if we’re going to encourage employees to participate more fully and wholeheartedly in a culture of productive generosity, we need to show them what’s in it for them.
A willingness to ask for help and give help to others at work is not just a fluffy, feel-good concept. There are real, tangible, measurable benefits to being a giver at work:
1. Giving makes us happy
There have been countless studies that suggest helping others improves the helper’s own mood as much, if not more, than the recipient of the help. A study at University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that altruism in the workplace had relatively large effects on happiness.
Professor Donald Moynihan says, “Our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: helping others makes us happier. Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system.”
2. Giving increases gratitude
Doing favors for others increases gratitude, which in itself is a positive emotion that can improve an individual’s health and well-being. In a study evaluating interventions for lasting happiness, founder of positive psychology Martin Seligman found that a daily gratitude practice was one of only two ways participants were able to increase happiness and decrease depressive symptoms over the long-term.
3. Giving inspires more giving
Paying it forward pays off. Contagion researchers James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis found that one person’s initial generosity can spark a chain reaction of benevolence up to three times as large as the original contribution. The single act can begin what social scientists call a “virtuous circle,” where one person’s generous behavior triggers another’s and so on. People are grateful for help received and are motivated to pay it forward according to research by Dr. Wayne Baker and Nathaniel Bulkley.
4. Giving makes us more well-liked
When you help others, you become someone that others can trust and rely on when they have a future knowledge, resource or connection need.
5. Giving grows and strengthens our networks
Offering help to others helps you make connections within your organization that you may not have otherwise made, which will increase your resources next time you need help. Moreover, these connections are more likely to be high-quality connections. So while we may not be givers for the express purpose of getting a reward, there are possible career and financial advantages to doing so.
6. Enjoy greater happiness and good health
Research shows that people who are givers are happier and healthier both mentally and physically. In fact, I wrote a whole blog post on the health benefits of being a giver at work.
7. Be the change you wish to see in the world
Giving back to others by offering your knowledge, connections and resources makes your world and your work environment a little better. Work environments with givers breed more generous behavior in others. The whole culture of a company can start to change.
8. Boost your career
According to Wharton professor and Give and Take co-founder Adam Grant, corporate “givers” are ultimately the highest performers and the most successful. Givers are able to tap into a network of knowledge and resources that provides them with greater resources and knowledge than those who try to succeed in isolation. If you’re interested in this aspect of generosity, Grant wrote a whole book on it, called Give and Take: How Helping Others Drives Our Success.
Pay it forward
The positive emotions generated through giving and receiving spreads through groups by way of emotional contagion and ripples through the entire organization. Research on groups experiencing positive emotional contagion found that more than good feelings spread. These groups experienced less interpersonal conflict, more successful cooperation, and felt they had performed better on their task than the control group.
When we give, the benefits are amplified and multiplied, as the positive emotions created by giving and expressing gratitude spread from one person to another. Even if we don’t give, we reap the benefits by being around people who are givers themselves. Barbara Fredrickson reports that people who merely witness or hear about a helpful interchange may experience positive emotions as well.
Benefits of asking for help
If Adam Grant wrote the book on giving, Wayne Baker wrote the book on asking for help (All You Have to Do is Ask, coming out January 2020). In his forthcoming book, he argues that asking for help at work is the most important skill for success.
It can be hard to ask for help at work. But it’s really important that we encourage our teams to do so (and help them learn how to do it) because the benefits are legion.
Studies show that asking for help makes us better and less frustrated at our jobs. It helps us find new opportunities and new talent. It unlocks new ideas and solutions, and enhances team performance. And it helps us get the things we need outside the workplace as well.
And yet, we rarely give ourselves permission to ask. Luckily, the research shows that asking—and getting—what we need is much easier than we tend to think.
When you ask for what you need, you are:
- Building team camaraderie and cohesion. You are reinforcing the idea that it takes a strong team to make a difference.
- Making other people feel better.. Don’t think you are burdening someone else by asking for help, people enjoy helping each other! It is really a win-win: you get help and you make someone else feel good.
- More likeable. We like people who dare to show their vulnerability and ask for help on things that are challenging for them. You’re also setting a great example for your teammates.
- Getting smarter: A willingness to ask for help makes it easier to do your job, providing you with an answer, advice, or a different perspective or a connection to someone outside your network who has the knowledge or resources you need.
- More successful. No great achievement can be done alone, and asking for help makes us more productive. No one has all of the resources, connections and knowledge to be totally self-sufficient and maximally effective.
Besides, we’ve already established that being a giver is good for so many things. The best offers of help occur when someone has asked for it.
All of this starts with leaders setting a good example. Leaders should be generous with their own teams, sharing both time and talent as well as recognition and appreciation for a job well done.
About the Author
Cheryl Baker is an innovator in the field of social capital and an expert in the translation of social science principles. She’s also the co-founder of Give and Take Inc., along with Wayne Baker and Adam Grant and the creator of the Reciprocity Ring. Give and Take makes Givitas, software that connects any group of people to exchange help, including employees, customers, members, donors, students, alumni, and more. By fostering a giving culture, organizations of all sizes drive positive business outcomes like increased efficiency, productivity, loyalty, and engagement.