What's trending in workplace gratitude?

What’s trending? More workplace gratitude! (Image via FutUndBeidl, Flickr)

As the value of workplace gratitude gets more recognition, leaders are exploring its impact and studying how to better implement it.
The power of a positive, appreciation-driven culture is clear.
Employees at organizations with positive cultures scored significantly higher scores in leadership caring, confidence and listening, a CultureIQ poll found.
The research shows that gratitude is what employees need to thrive. In one survey, 58 percent of employees said recognition is how leaders could do more to improve engagement. In another study, 69 percent of employees say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated.
“When more than half your staff wants the same thing, you listen,” B2C’s Michael Heller writes.
Companies are listening. More and more HR departments are deploying recognition and gratitude as engagement strategies. The majority see their employee recognition programs as a worthwhile investment, according to the latest WorldAtWork research.
Emerging from all this buzz around workplace gratitude are best practices for employee appreciation and, ultimately, cultural change.

The 5 Trends Leading Workplace Gratitude

One thing is clear: it’s not enough anymore to show appreciation once a year at the company holiday party or all-department picnic. The kind of workplace gratitude that builds productivity and increases retention is a year-round commitment and daily practice.
Here are five trends worth following:
1. Going Beyond ‘Thanks’: Empathy
A fascinating HR Dive article on empathetic leadership explores a troubling aspect of employee disengagement: two-thirds of U.S. workers are not engaged, according to Gallup data that has stayed stagnant for years.
HR Dive’s Tess Taylor asks Businessolver CEO Jon Shanahan: Why have engagement efforts failed to “budge past one-third of the workforce?”
A lack of empathy, Shanahan says.

“People want to be treated as more than the product of their labor, or as a means to an end, the company’s bottom line. Also, people want to feel like their work has an impact on other human beings and companies have a hard time communicating that.
That’s why I’ve found empathy is so important. It helps leaders connect with their employees on a human level that extends beyond their day-to-day jobs, and it conveys to employees how their work can benefit others.
Empathy literally requires you to obtain another’s point of view — taking the extra step to look beyond what you want and need to understand what someone else may want or need, and why.”

This has big implications for building better appreciation programs and choosing incentives that actually work. When managers lead with empathy, they gain insight into what truly motivates their reports.
2. Communicating More to Build a Stronger HR Connection
How often does your HR department communicate with employees? Are you getting through to them?
A full three-quarters of employees in a recent study reported that HR communicates with them “rarely or never.” These stats correlate to apathetic or downright poor engagement, HR Dive explains:

“Communication is critical in the workplace and is required to engage workers and gain their trust and commitment. Study after study shows that employees often feel uninformed about what’s going on at work — something HR can move to change.”

Inadequate communication also feeds gossip culture. One study found that nearly 4 in 5 employees get their information “through the grapevine.”
Employees want to hear from HR! Increase or broaden your communication with regular expressions of gratitude, and focus on building two-way communication and a feedback culture.
Gratitude starts the conversation and keeps it open.
3. Educating Bosses in Gratitude
Managers at all levels need to be well-versed in communicating meaningful gratitude to employees. When they’re not, employees notice — and that spells trouble for engagement and retention.
In a survey of 20,000 employees at small, midsize and large private and public tech firms, a full third reported that their boss negatively impacted company culture. One of the most common complaints were bosses who failed to communicate “vision and strategy.”
Gratitude is the first step toward improved communication of vision and strategy. Clear, specific appreciation lets employees know what steps to repeat to achieve the same excellent performance.
Knowing how to improve management with gratitude is a skill, often one that must be taught. Invest in manager training in employee appreciation.
4. Gratitude As A Cultural Phenomenon
Recent research by two Indiana University professors shows expressing gratitude has a profound and lasting effect on individual mental health.
Now multiply that times an entire organization.
We love the term “workplace gratitude,” compared to similar terms like employee recognition, because it embraces the full scope of showing and sharing gratitude to build a great organizational culture.
Gratitude is more than a one-time transaction (“Thanks!), and it’s not just for managers. It’s a habit that can spread to everyone in your workplace. Gratitude has benefits that start at the individual level and fan out.
Take it from UC Davis gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, as quoted in the Fast Company Future of Work column, “The Science of Gratitude and Why It’s Important In Your Workplace”:

“Gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance at work. Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms lives in a myriad of ways consistent with the notion that virtue is both its own reward and produces other rewards.”

5. Employees Want Meaningful Gifts
The demand for non-cash rewards and recognition is on the rise, according to The Incentive Research Foundation’s 2017 Trends Study. The number of U.S. businesses using non-cash rewards has risen from 26 percent in 1996 to 84 percent in 2016.
And among non-cash gifts, redeemable cards or certificates are most in demand. In particular, gifts that promote an experience or “emotional engagement” are on the rise.
People want gifts that are meaningful and can be shared with family and friends — and organizations are responding by sharing tangible, experience-rich gifts that focus on conveying emotions like gratitude.
The study’s writers conclude:

“External top-down and bottom-up pressures as well as internal pressures and changes will continue to support the growth of non-cash rewards and recognition programs. Businesses will be challenged to deepen their expertise in these areas and continuously justify their use of these program types.”

FREE Resources for Building Workplace Gratitude

We all need inspiration to spread workplace gratitude daily. Here at gThankYou we love helping companies connect, engage with and celebrate employees.
Here are two free eBooks that will inspire and provide actionable tools to help you build a culture of gratitude. Download them and start making a difference today!

1.  “Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar” provides the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. It includes mini-case studies, key stats and focus features on engagement trends, plus a calendar of celebrations and holidays for engaging with employees.
Be inspired! Download yours today, absolutely free.
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” -Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author

2.  “Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude” unlocks the secrets to recruiting and retaining a superior workforce, increasing profits and having more fun at work.
Learn more about the science of workplace gratitude, why gratitude is so powerful in the workplace and simple techniques to improve any organization — starting now!

Here’s to a happier workplace!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates, Ham Gift Certificates, and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou are America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any brand (Turkey, Ham, or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any grocery store in the U.S.
gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

To learn more about gThankYou, watch our “About Us” Video and visit gThankYou today!

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick Kiley, Chief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-609-2234.
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