In every workplace, people have an inherent desire to feel valued by others. Research shows that when employees feel appreciated, they are more satisfied, willing to work longer hours, and motivated to do their best. For example, one survey found that over 80% of employees work harder when their manager appreciates their work. Another study highlighted that employees are 50% more successful when leaders show gratitude. Not only that, but gratitude at work creates a domino effect within the organization. Showing appreciation towards someone is likely to inspire that person to “pay it forward” and thank others.
While appreciation is the best gift you can give to employees, it’s missing in many organizations today. One study even found that work is the place where people are least likely to express gratitude! Let’s change that by looking at ways you can create a culture of gratitude at work.
Start meetings with gratitude
Instead of starting a meeting with boring introductions or status updates, ask people to share something they are grateful for. This approach helps people become more present and less stressed. It’s almost impossible to worry and express gratitude for something simultaneously. In fact, the expression of gratitude actually has health benefits like lowering blood pressure and releasing dopamine and oxytocin.
Use creative tactics
Be creative when it comes to creating a culture of appreciation. One idea is to create a 30-day gratitude challenge. That way, you can encourage employees to express gratitude through small daily actions. For example, one day, you might ask employees to do something nice for a co-worker and another day, you could ask them to write down three things that they appreciate about their boss. Another strategy is using an employee recognition board to publicly congratulate outstanding work. The possibilities are endless.
Embrace those two little words
The expression of gratitude could be your most effective tool to retain talent. According to research from the firm Workhuman, how recently someone received a “thank you” can be an impactful indicator of a person’s willingness to stay at their current company. The study found that employees recognized for their work are half as likely to be looking for a new job and three times as likely to think their work has meaning and purpose. Remember to thank employees not only for performance-based accomplishments but also for more subtle contributions like offering a different perspective in a meeting or taking on additional projects. Even a simple email or handwritten note will go a long way. By embracing those two little words, you’ll build trust and morale across the organization.
Show how effort creates impact
Studies show that when we can see the results of our efforts, we can feel gratitude and enjoy the health benefits it provides. Managers can make this connection clearer by talking about the organization’s successes and its influence on the world. Another way to do this is by posting customer success stories on social media and your company blog. You can also support employee volunteer efforts through various programs like working with a local nonprofit or participating in neighborhood activities. The goal is to help every employee see how their work creates a positive impact.
Lead by example
A culture of gratitude starts at the top. Gratitude is an essential leadership skill that must be intentional, frequent and authentic. Don’t wait for annual performance reviews to acknowledge people for the great work they are doing. If senior management takes the time to acknowledge employees’ efforts, it encourages others to do the same.
It’s never too late to start introducing gratitude into your organization. After all, a company’s culture is one of its most essential assets. Taking the time and effort to create an environment that values and recognizes the team can reap great rewards in terms of employee satisfaction and performance. At the end of the day, there is no magic formula. It’s really quite simple—we all want to feel appreciated and valued. Besides that, it just feels good to say those two powerful little words, “Thank you!”