The web is abuzz about the gratitude’s health benefits. It turns out that when you thank employees, you’re not only helping them feel valued and appreciated, but also helping yourself!
Here’s the buzz.
When you thank your employees, it makes you healthy. When workers thank each other, their health improves! As businessperson and writer JD Thornton writes in “Surprising Benefits of Gratitude in the Workplace,” for Total Wellness:
While you may think gratitude is a soft, fluffy feel-good topic, it can have a huge impact on your company.”
Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
Scientific studies prove that gratitude releases dopamine in your brain, which increases feelings of wellbeing and optimism and improves physical health. When you’re healthy, you’re more productive, make better decisions, and solve problems more easily. Thornton notes many people also report higher levels of energy, enthusiasm, determination, and alertness.
Spending just five or ten minutes daily spent writing down three positive work-related experiences and decreases stress levels and physical health complaints by 15%. So if you thank your employees, you’ll have less neck and back pain, headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms of stress and poor health.
The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, cites scientific data showing that when people are consistently grateful, they report benefits including:
- Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
- Higher levels of positive emotions
- More joy, optimism, and happiness
- Act with more generosity and compassion
- Feel less lonely and isolated.
Who knew that—if you thank your employees often—you’ll gain all of these health benefits?
Resistance to Gratitude
It’s not always easy to live with “an attitude of gratitude.” UC Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons identifies two types of resistance to gratitude and science that refutes them:
- Objections to gratitude as a way of life: Some fear it leads to complacency or passivity.
- A sense of entitlement.
To the contrary: Emmons says research suggests gratitude actually drives a sense of purpose. And we benefit when we show gratitude for all aspects of life.
“We need to recognize that life is not something that can be bought, or is something that we are owed, but that it is a gift. … that is a profoundly countercultural thought in many parts of the world today.”
But gratitude is especially difficult to encourage in the workplace, Thornton writes, citing a John Templeton Foundation study that finds people are less likely to express gratitude at work than almost anyplace else, and that 60% of people never express thanks at work! This implies that everyday your employees may feel undervalued and unappreciated.
Have no fear! Fortunately, science is helping business leaders appreciate the value of gratitude in the workplace.
When it comes to gratitude, research abounds. In 2012, UC Berkeley’s GGSC collaborated with UC Davis to launch a $5.6 million, three-year project called Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. The project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, which has sponsored several studies on the topic.
According to a Templeton Report news release, “Gratitude Summit Explores the Queen of the Virtues,”the organizations also hosted the 2014 Greater Good Gratitude Summit!
Renowned psychologist, researchers, mentors and teachers presented their findings to live and online audiences. Christina Karns, a University of Oregon neuroimaging researcher, noted that “gratitude and altruism are sisters in virtue.” In other words, thanking, rewarding and helping employees will boost their life satisfaction!
Gratitude helps foster social relationships, observes Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor Jeff Huffman. His GRACE study has explores how gratitude actually improves recovery from heart attacks because of the positive emotions it engenders.
Wendy Berry Mendes, associate professor at the University of Californian, San Francisco, shared other health benefits of gratitude such as lower blood pressure.
Internationally recognized teacher Jack Kornfield and Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, talked about gratitude as part of “harvesting the joys of life.” Gratitude becomes the basis upon which we continue, as human beings, to grow and to flourish, Kornfield observes.
How to Thank Your Employees
The best way to encourage gratitude in the workplace is to exemplify it, Thornton advises. Be sure to thank your employees for everything they do, and be as specific as possible.
“Simply sending a generalized email out to all your employees or making a speech may be great, but it is unlikely to create a movement of gratitude in your company.”
Thank individual employees—genuinely and sincerely—for specific things they’ve done to benefit your business. It can be formal and public—at a staff meeting, for instance—or simple and informal, as an event occurs.
As you continue to thank your employees consistently, you create a culture of gratitude that infuses your company culture. It also encourages behaviors and results that increase your company’s success.
How to Encourage Gratitude
- Take a minute each day to think about someone or something you’re grateful for (and write it down!).
- Write quick notes to special people, thanking them for their roles in your life.
- Practice savoring the present moment. Breathe.
- Promise yourself–in writing–that you’ll practice being grateful, and post the note at your workspace.
As Robert Emmons’ website for Emmons Labs says:
“Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms lives.”
For an in-depth guide to Transforming Your Workplace with Gratitude, download our FREE eBook below and start today!
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