I often consult with leaders who are trying to develop human-centric cultures. In the context of that work, I have shared my view that it’s essential to make it easy for compassionate and caring people to stay with your business and also to make it easy for ungrateful and scarcity-minded people to find employment elsewhere. Unfortunately, I have seen many examples where talented and positive people churn because the culture does not suit them. Wouldn’t it be great if your company was actually too optimistic and positive such that it drove the miserable away?
In this Thanksgiving week (where we formally take pause to give thanks), I thought it would be worthwhile to remind ourselves of the importance of driving a year-round culture of optimism and gratitude. Beyond the workplace, studies on gratitude show:
- People who keep a gratitude journal tend to be 25% happier than people who do not.
- Grateful people tend to have “better mood, better sleep, less fatigue, and lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers related to cardiac health.”
- Gratitude strengthens relationships.
At work, grateful cultures that celebrate abundance tend to enjoy the following benefits:
- More effective leaders – Managers who are perceived as giving praise are viewed as more effective than less gratitude expressing counterparts.
- More cohesive workplaces – Gratitude strengthens teams and produces more prosocial behavior at work.
- Greater success – Grateful work cultures result in improved productivity.
You get it – gratitude is good, and ungratefulness is bad!
That said, how do you increase gratitude at work? The short answer is, it starts with YOU! I’m an advocate of leaders keeping a gratitude (or as I like to call it, a joy) journal. I also recommend you make a point of expressing gratitude at work at least once per day for the next 90 days. Log your acts of gratitude and look for ways to vary the ways you express gratitude (e.g., notes, email, verbal acknowledgment, public expressions, private expressions, etc.).
In addition to leading with gratitude, here are a few other actions that can amp up gratitude in your work culture:
- Provide leadership training on expressing positive recognition and offer parallel training for peer recognition.
- Develop reward and recognition programs (peer-to-peer and leadership) that have a regular cadence (daily, weekly, monthly).
- Encourage team members to track and share gratitude at the beginning of meetings.
People who are cynical about looking for and expressing gratitude might think I am asking you to manufacture appreciation and reward people for simply showing up to do their job. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gratitude must be authentic and warranted. If you express false gratitude, you undermine the value and power of your appreciation.
What I am suggesting is that most of us focus predominantly on breakdowns and deficits and miss so much of what is going right with our teams. The more we catch those positive actions and genuinely express our appreciation for them, the more those actions will appear. Moreover, appreciation will help us retain the very people who deliver those actions as opposed to leaving those individuals hungry for a workplace that values them. We also set an example of the behavior we desire – people appreciating one another for caring for each other and for our customers.
I suspect like me you have much for which to be grateful this Thanksgiving. My joy list will include the bestseller status of my latest book, The Airbnb Way, and the time you have given reading this blog. I would be honored to share that gratitude with you personally as we talk about the leadership, employee engagement, and customer experiences you are seeking to drive in your grateful business. Simply contact me here.