Workplace gratitude: destress one day at a time!

Photo via David Wagner, Flickr

It’s easy to let work stress you out, but research shows that workplace gratitude can banish stress! The less stress employees experience, the healthier and more productive they are!

In “Surprising Benefits of Gratitude in the Workplace,” columnist J.D. Thornton explains the proof that gratitude releases dopamine in the brain, which increases well-being, optimism, and physical health. These feelings improve productivity, decision-making, and problem solving.

“Even a little bit of gratitude can make you feel better: when people took five to ten minutes at the end of their workday to record three personal or work-related things that went well and why, stress levels and physical health complaints—such as neck and back pain, headaches, and fatigue—decreased by 15%.”

In Gratitude: the Latest Self-help Trend that Could Change your Life,” Guardian writer Anna Hart writes about her interview with psychologist Brené Brown, the author of two New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. Brown said:

“It’s not possible to be stressed about something when you’re being grateful for it.”

A How-To: practice gratitude

If you’re stressed, approach work activities from a new angle. A shift in perspective goes a long way! In “Flex Your Gratitude Muscle, and Lift Stress Away,” meQuilibrium CEO Jan Bruce writes that it’s not about denying or ignoring the negative aspects of life. It’s about training yourself to see the positive ones through “gratitude practice.” Here are some ways to practice:

  • Say thanks. Send a thank-you message (or better yet, tell them in person!).
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Every day, write down five things you’re grateful for, whether major or minor—a beautiful sunset, something funny a coworker said, a great meal at the cafeteria, or an important project completed.
  • Use visual cues. Put notes or objects in your workspace that remind you of gratitude.
  • Remember the good times. Reminisce with colleagues about times of good teamwork, successful projects, or off-hours fun.

MODEL Workplace Gratitude

As a manager, you are a workplace role model — employees look to your behavior and attitude, so take advantage and model workplace gratitude! How? Start with a simple Thank YouThornton suggests you thank your employees—personally, sincerely, and specifically—for things they do that benefit your business.

As you express gratitude, you transform company culture for the better. Thornton calls this an “environment of gratitude.” In addition, “this technique also encourages employees to pursue the sort of behaviors, attitudes, and results that you are thanking them for, increasing your company’s level of success.”


In a Globe and Mail article, “Stressed at work? Try a gratitude attitude,” Leah Eichler, founder and CEO of r/ally, cites a real-world example of gratitude at work: Ontario company Plasticity Labs conducted a survey, dividing 65 employees ages 18 – 82 into two groups. One regularly recorded things they were grateful for at work, while the other kept track of thanks in their personal lives.

The first group reported greater workplace gratitude and job satisfaction than the second. Job performance also increased and turnover fell for the first one.

Concludes Eichler: “All the company needed to do to benefit from the results was to allocate time for the simple activity of writing down what makes employees feel happy.”

Thornton thinks high-performance coach Robin Sharma says it best:

“Gratitude drives happiness. Happiness boosts productivity. Productivity reveals mastery. And mastery inspires the world.”

Start practicing your “gratitude attitude” today! Your business will thank you for it.

For more great tips and insights into building a vibrant culture of engagement and workplace gratitude, be sure to download our free e-book“The Top 20 Employee Engagement Blogs You Should be Reading.”
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