Benefits of Gratitude in the Workplace

A business shakes hands with his team to illustrate the benefits of gratitude in the workplace

The Benefits of Gratitude in the Workplace
While the benefits of gratitude in the workplace seem pretty straightforward to employee engagement experts, how often do you suppose you say thank you each day?

We seem conditioned to express our gratitude at home, in stores, at school…everywhere it seems but at work.  At least that’s what one study from the Greater Good Science Center reports.

  • Of over 2,000 surveyed, people are less likely to say “thank you” at work than anywhere else
  • Over half responded that they “either never express gratitude at work or do so perhaps once a year”

We find this surprising and are also dismayed at the consequences such ingratitude can have in the workplace.

Consequences of the Lack of Appreciation
Before we look at the benefits of gratitude in the workplace, we know:

  • Employees who feel underappreciated also feel disengaged
  • Engaged workers are over 40% more productive and effective than their unengaged counterparts

Are you willing to sacrifice employee engagement to a culture where gratitude for work well done is minimized, unexpressed or goes unnoticed?

The Leaders of This Organization Are Committed to Making It a Great Place to Work
Of all the employee engagement questions we ask, the single question with the highest correlation to employee engagement measures how committed leaders are to ensuring their employees feel valued as their most important resource.  Praise from senior leaders can make a huge difference in whether or not employees feel engaged.

  • Almost 90% of hostile (read highly disengaged) employees report senior leaders give too little praise or acknowledgment of discretionary effort.

If employees don’t perceive that extra effort will yield recognition, there is little incentive for them to do so.

How to Create a Culture of Gratitude
When it comes to the benefits of gratitude in the workplace, we know that a fair paycheck is only one of the motivators for work.  Employees also work to:

  • Earn the respect of others
  • Have a feeling of accomplishment
  • Create a sense of purpose

Well expressed gratitude can feed these three more emotion-based motivators.   And it all starts with a simple “Thank You!”

How to Say Thank You at Work
Here is how to say thank you at work:

1. Have Leaders Model the Way
Leaders need to set the example that appreciation for a job well done is the “way we do business” and encourage a sense of team effort.

2. Be Specific
From an engagement and motivational perspective, a general “thanks” just does not cut it. Meaningful thanks need to be specific and timely.  Show that you are paying attention and are genuinely grateful by citing details so employees feel valued and appreciated for a job well done.

“Thank you, Chris, for the extra time and effort I know it took to get me the report on time.  Because I had the data on hand at the executive team meeting, we were able to make a decision on how to move forward and you made our whole team look good.”

3. Consider the Recipient
Try to tailor your thanks to the way the recipient would most value it.

Some people like to be acknowledged publicly; others are too shy or modest for such an announcement.

Some like a simple pat on the back; others would appreciate an afternoon off or a lunch with the boss.
The key is to offer thanks that suit the individual best.

The Bottom Line
The benefits of gratitude in the workplace are directly related to employee engagement and performance.  Gratitude should be as common in the workplace as elsewhere in the world.  And it all starts with a simple, meaningful and timely “Thank You.”

To learn more about helping your employees feel valued and appreciated, download The Top 10 Most Powerful Ways Leaders Can Boost Employee Engagement

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