We learn our manners as children, and ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are typically commonplace words around the home, at school, and in the workplace. However, we often underestimate the impacts that the latter phrase – ‘thank you’ – can have on our colleagues and the overall working environment.
While research on gratitude is still considered to be in its early days, many studies to date have shown that the feeling of gratitude may foster resilience during transitional periods in life, can result in more positivity and better sleep, and is typically in alignment with empathy. Thus, it’s important not only to outwardly express gratitude to others, but also to pay attention to the feeling of gratitude internally. Within groups, gratitude is seen to increase prosocial behavior, strengthen relationships, and may positively impact productivity.
If you’re in a managerial position and are finding that your employees are lacking in loyalty or productivity, or expressing a sense of job dissatisfaction, consider both how and how often you’re expressing your gratitude towards them. By expressing genuine gratitude across all facets of the organization and each person’s role, you may find that these factors improve, resulting in a happier, healthier and more productive working environment. If the CEO of Campbell’s Soup can send out 30,000 thank you notes, sending out a few quick thank you emails, or better yet, having face to face conversations seems very achievable.
Gratitude should not only be expressed by managers to employees though, but also peer-to-peer and through all levels of an organization. Fostering an attitude of gratitude as a company in its entirety will go a lot farther than having the beliefs held by a few select individuals. One way to stimulate gratitude in your working environment could be a gratitude wall, either physically in your office or online, where everyone in the company can either anonymously or publicly write thank you notes to others. This simultaneously allows the expression and reception of gratitude, while showcasing it to the rest of the company to encourage others to do the same.
In addition to expressing gratitude outwardly to others, don’t underestimate the power of internalized gratitude. Begin your day by writing down 5 or 6 things you have to be grateful for. If your workday is too busy or you find this task difficult to prioritize, mentally run through your list before you go to sleep. People who are more grateful have been shown to have a higher quality of sleep than those who are not, so by placing focus on all you have to be grateful for, right as you’re about to hit the hay, you just might find that you wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to spread the gratitude around.