Our recent post, “Your Thank You Fuels Company Culture” argues that a commitment to a culture of workplace gratitude can transform a company’s culture allowing it to excel and insulating it in crisis.
To better understand the power of gratitude in the workplace, let’s learn from real-world examples of workplace gratitude in action.
Eric Mosely and Derek Irvine identify hugely successful businesses that have harnessed that power and know how to deliver workplace thank you’s that resonate in their recent book, The Power of Thanks.
What happens when you embrace workplace gratitude
At JetBlue, company founders aimed to erase the inconvenient and annoying aspects of airline travel through extraordinary customer service. Mostly and Irvine cite Michael Elliott, JetBlue’s senior vice president of people, who says the airline’s mission is to “inspire humanity,” beginning by treating the airline’s “crewmembers” with gratitude and kindness.
“Our five Values—Safety, Caring, Integrity, Passion and Fun—set us apart from the other guys,” Elliott says. “Together, our crewmembers live these values, and in turn, make the JetBlue experience for our customers unmatchable. We strive to make it a down-to-earth company by hiring kind, hard-working crewmembers. Once they get here, we recognize and applaud them for being the heart of our brand.”
Many companies experience growing pains, especially when their growth is rapid, as JetBlue’s was. In just a few years, the airline grew from 1,000 to 16,000 employees, with its workforce spread across the U.S. and its skies.
JetBlue has been steadfast in bolstering its mission and culture, using frequent workplace thank you’s to recognize its employees and remind them of how valued they are. This has prompted employees to show customers the same level of appreciation, garnering customer loyalty in the process. The company has earned 11 honors from J.D. Power for the highest customer satisfaction among low-cost carriers in North America.
“Knowing who delivers extraordinary customer service, who truly lives the values, and who contributes to the JetBlue culture is critical,” says Elliott. “This provides a competitive advantage for us while keeping our customers happy and our company feeling small as we grow. If we can ensure we are recognizing crewmembers and inspiring them to keep up our exceptional level of service year after year, we can go anywhere.”
In 2006 Mark Fields, Ford’s then-COO and current CEO, posted a sign in the company’s “war room,” quoting management guru Peter Drucker. The sign says:
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Ford lives that credo, and Mosely and Irvine maintain it’s one of the main reasons the company survived the national economic meltdown of 2008, which left the two other “big three” automakers—GM and Chrysler—looking for a federal bailout.
Then-chairman Alan Mulally joined Ford from Boeing in 2006 and asked Fields to change Ford’s culture from, as The Power of Thanks says:
“The classic industrial-company combination of contention, distrust, and zero-sum negotiations (for me to win, you have to lose) with a set of values and behaviors called ‘One Ford,’ that define the automaker’s current culture.”
- Working together. Everyone respects, listens to, helps, and appreciates others and honors their contributions.
- Modeling values. Crew members have can-do, find-a-way attitudes, enjoy their work, and have fun.
- Delivering results. Workers inspire others and hold themselves and their team members responsible and accountable.
As the book says:
“Ford sees a culture of positivity, inspiration, and accountability not as a feel-good, nice-to-have part of the company but as essential to delivering results.”
Mulally told McKinsey Insights in 2013:
“Some prefer to work in a different way. Ultimately, they will either adopt the Ford culture, or they will leave.”
Although Ford’s sales dropped dramatically during the Great Recession, the company’s culture—which embraced the strategy of workforce gratitude—helped it rebound with lower costs and better products.
Timely Workplace Thank You’s Help
As Southwest Airlines’ cofounder and chairman Herb Kelleher has said:
“Culture is what you do when people aren’t looking.”
If your company stresses values and behaviors that align with organizational goals, employees’ instincts will lead them to behave in ways that support those values, strengthening your culture. If you commit to building a culture of appreciation, overtime your workplace will embody it.
How does your workforce behave when you’re not looking? It’s an insight into what your real culture is all about.
Learn more about harnessing the power of workplace gratitude in our popular free eBook, “Transform Your Workplace with Gratitude.” Click the image below and start transforming your workplace today!
About gThankYou, LLC
Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey 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 customizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.
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