Gratitude is a widely-underrated approach to a happy, productive workforce. A study by the John Templeton Foundation found that people are less likely to express gratitude at work than almost everywhere else, with 60% of people never expressing gratitude in the workplace. This is statistic is alarming because it means that most employers aren’t harnessing the power of gratitude.
Employees who feel unappreciated are less motivated and less loyal to their companies. A 2013 Glassdoor Employee Appreciation Survey revealed employees’ thoughts on employer appreciation. The survey found that 53% of employees would stay at their company longer if they felt more appreciation from their boss, while 81% said they feel motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. Employers who express gratitude towards their employees show that they value and appreciate employees’ efforts and dedication to the company.
Grateful employers also ignite a productive workforce. In a study at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers discovered that grateful leaders motivate their employees to be more productive. The study observed employees tasked with making fundraising calls. It was found that employees who were thanked and felt a sense of appreciation from their leaders made 50% more fundraising calls than their unappreciated counterparts.
Besides motivation and productivity, gratitude in the workplace helps build relationships, decrease stress, improve physical and mental health, and promotes a healthy self-esteem. Grateful employers set the tone for their workplace and help create a positive work environment.
The beauty of gratitude is that it doesn’t have to be expressed in the form of money, either. In fact, some of the strongest forms of gratitude don’t require any costly investment at all. Here are some simple ways for employers to show gratitude toward employees:
Say “thank you.” The simplest approach to expressing gratitude toward employees is to say “thank you”. However, it’s important to realize that a “thank you” must be genuine and specific to be effective. A generalized “thank you” won’t make an employee feel special or appreciated. Instead, an employee should be personally thanked for a specific strength that they display in the workplace.
For example, emailing an employee “Thank you.” in response to a completed project won’t pack the punch when it comes to expressing gratitude. By replying instead, “Thank you, ____, for bringing in a fresh perspective to this project. Your creative insight never fails our team!”, the leader is expressing gratitude and appreciation for an employee’s specific talents.
Hold gratitude meetings. Hold a special meeting once a month to focus on employees. Choose one thing about each member of the team to express gratitude towards. Managers should recognize employees individually for their efforts rather than lumping teammates together. Thanking employees for their individual contributions will also have a strong impact on overall work performance as well as productivity. In fact, according to a meta-analysis conducted by Gallup, the act of recognizing desired behavior in employees increases the repetition of that desired behavior, which leads to increased productivity.
Ask questions. Managers should show an authentic interest in the personal lives of employees. Employees are more likely to feel appreciated when managers make an effort to see them as more than just a subordinate. Getting to know employees is also a helpful strategy in learning to become more grateful as a leader. When managers get to know employees on a personal level, it’ll become easier to value their presence and create a feeling of community within the team. Of course, it’s important for managers and employees to keep their connections about appropriate topics. Focus on questions about employees’ hobbies, strengths, and goals.
Provide learning opportunities. Offering employees the chance to learn and grow in their company is a fantastic way to show gratitude. The best companies to work for like Google, provide learning opportunities for employees. These include everything from personal development such as like guitar lessons to professional development classes like coding. Research from ClearCompany claims that 68% of workers say training and development is the most important workplace policy. Providing personal and professional development classes could be an ultimate win-win for employers – employees will feel valued and gain valuable skills that will contribute to company success.
Involve employees. Employees who feel that they don’t have a say in their company are less likely to feel valued and appreciated. Employers can easily express gratitude towards employees by simply involving them in important conversations and decisions. Ask employees for their opinions on how things in the office are managed, or ask them for their feedback on any changes that might affect their work. Employees are happier and feel more appreciated when their voices are being heard.
One of the greatest things about gratitude is that it’s incredibly contagious. Leaders expressing thankfulness and appreciation can create a ripple effect throughout the office. Studies have shown that cooperative and altruistic behavior tends to spread from person to person. A simple “thank you” has the power to change the way employees interact, feel, and perform. Grateful leaders make the best leaders.