World Gratitude Day is today, Monday, September 21! It’s the perfect occasion to commit to a gratitude at work campaign and start a revolution of appreciation in your workplace.
How World Gratitude Day Began
According to “World Gratitude Day Quick Facts,” the first celebration was held in Hawaii in 1965. An international gathering of the United Nations Mediation Group decided to designate one day each year to formally express gratitude for the great things individuals and groups offer. The celebration has ignited, internationally growing ever since.
The Science Behind Gratitude
Gratitude is not just a “feel good” emotion in the workplace, as Charles D. Kerns, professor of applied behavioral science at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, writes in “Gratitude at Work.” It has many workplace benefits.
”When an employee believes his or her superiors are grateful for his or her work, the employee will benefit by having an improved sense of worth to the organization. This improved sense of worth can lead to performance improvement, thereby benefiting the organization.”
Research shows gratitude in the workplace improves employee satisfaction, happiness, engagement, productivity and health. A happier more productive workforce protects and improves your bottom line.
Believe it or not, the person expressing gratitude also receives similar benefits as the receiver. Gratitude is contagious and if supported can influence your entire workplace.
The founders of World Gratitude Day hope that taking a day each year to feel grateful will positively affect our well-being and make us happier. While World Gratitude Day is a reminder to express our appreciation, demonstrating gratitude needs to be more than a one-day occurrence if you want to build a culture of appreciation. Leading gratitude researcher Robert Emmons reminds us of the transformative power of gratitude:
“Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.”
An easy way to start a gratitude revolution
Vanessa Buote, a post-doctoral fellow at Plasticity Labs and Wilfrid Laurier University in “Being Thankful at Work: The Impact of Gratitude in the Workplace,” observes that just completing simple gratitude activities, like writing down what you’re thankful for in a “gratitude journal” can make us more optimistic, feel better about our lives, exercise more regularly, have less stress and depression and have fewer negative physical symptoms.
Today or whenever you are ready, gather employees and hand out small notebooks (serving treats wouldn’t hurt either). Ask them to write down three things they’re grateful for at work and tell them to do it daily. Follow-up weekly for a month. Give examples that show how to be thankful for people not things. (Yes, we are grateful for the coffee in the morning, but we really should be grateful to Mary who makes the coffee every day. Don’t forget to remind them!)
As Buote writes, “Although we may not always be able to control what happens in the workplace, we can control how we choose to perceive it and what we choose to focus on. We can focus on the negative aspects … or we can find the things that we like about our workplace and be grateful for them.”
At first, you might have to ask employees to focus on their surroundings and look for the positive, Buote notes.
“But over time, this should create a habit, or a pattern, where employees begin to more automatically think about what they’re grateful for at work.”
As a follow-up activity, you could encourage employees to share with others what they’re grateful for, and to thank one another. Buote writes that 88% of employees reported feeling happy and fulfilled after expressing gratitude to colleagues.
“This simple, short activity has been shown to significantly increase positivity at work—even more so than focusing on the things we’re grateful for in life,” writes Buote.
Happy World Gratitude Day!
We hope you have a fantastic World Gratitude Day at your workplace. Share your gratitude generously and often and let the revolution begin!
For an in-depth guide to Transforming Your Workplace with Gratitude, click below to download our FREE eBook and start today!
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