Exhibiting True Thankfulness in the Workplace

A national survey conducted by the John Templeton Foundation of over 2,000 individuals found that the workplace is the least likely place where people will show gratitude. Additionally, over 70 percent of employees admit that they rarely express gratitude to their boss; however, those same employees would like their supervisors to show their gratitude to them. The same percentage of employees state that their morale would improve, and over 80 percent claimed that they would work harder if their supervisors expressed more gratitude.

The researchers found that groups who developed a culture of saying thank you to co-workers experienced less stress, more satisfaction with life, and fewer headaches and illnesses. Greater Good of the University of California provides some scientifically-tested suggestions for improving your workplace culture.

  • Managers and supervisors must set the example. According to the Templeton survey, 35 percent of respondents believed that expressing gratitude left them feeling vulnerable. If management shows a willingness to be vulnerable, employees are more likely to follow suit.
  • Gratitude is more likely to be adopted culturally if it is incorporated into policies and procedures. New and existing staff can be asked how they would like to be thanked; departing staff should be given a goodbye party and their contributions celebrated. Staff meetings and performance reviews can all include an element of gratitude.
  • Most organizations have employees or staff who are often overlooked, yet their contribution is vital. For example, office cleaners, accounting staff, and cafeteria staff rarely receive any recognition. Public appreciation of everybody can broaden perspectives and promote trust. The Greater Good suggests that gratitude can mitigate interpersonal conflict. A supervisor who intervenes and expresses gratitude to both parties may find that each party comes to realize the worth of the other.

One idea to promote gratitude is a social media website where staff can post a note of thanks to other colleagues. Providing coffee or doughnuts to the office is a generous gesture. Supervisors could treat staff to lunch or give staff paid time off to show their appreciation.

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