Culture, HR Insights

Gratitude: It Will Make For Better Work and a Better World

Photo by istockphoto.com

In the spirit of Thanksgiving (at least for those of us in the United States), I thought I would ask you if you’re doing enough giving-of-thanks these days.

Whether you want to feel happier and more upbeat, or you want to build stronger relationships across departments in your organization and create more of a sense of teamwork, giving thanks is a powerful, easy practice to make these things happen.

What do YOU feel grateful for?

Think of both the big gifts in your life, as well as the little things that bring you joy or make your life more pleasant.

For instance, I’m taking care of two kittens from the animal shelter until they get adopted. This morning when I let them out of their room and they came bounding into my bedroom purring, acting happy, and being cute, I found myself filled with gratitude for the joy and laughter they’ve brought into my life.

I then thought about how grateful I am for the great friends I have and how much I treasure them.

It’s also a beautiful sunny day, and I feel grateful for that.

And, I love the work that I do, and am SO grateful for that.

What do you FEEL grateful for?

Notice how it feels to reflect on what you feel grateful for in your life. Let the FEELING of gratitude soak in.

FEELING gratitude is very different from just THINKING gratitude.

“Yeah, I have lots of things to be grateful for” isn’t enough.

Knowing intellectually you have a lot to be thankful for doesn’t do it. It has to be visceral.

When we feel grateful, we also feel warm, loving, joyful, compassionate, and generous.

When we feel warm, loving, joyful, compassionate, and generous, we’re far more likely to uplift others by our presence, be helpful to others, and give people the benefit of the doubt.

Bring gratitude to work

Think of the impact you can make at work if you are more consistently uplifting to be around, consistently more helpful, and consistently more compassionate.

You can use the power of gratitude where you work by making it a practice to acknowledge the good things others do, acknowledge their gifts and talents, and to acknowledge their contributions.

Maybe it’s the receptionist who is always friendly and welcoming. Maybe it’s someone from another department who consistently demonstrates a “How can I help you?” attitude.

Bring gratitude to work by expressing appreciation when someone — especially someone from another department — does something really helpful to you.

By expressing gratitude across departmental lines, you build bridges, strengthen relationships, and create more of a “WE Culture.”

One of my favorite examples of this comes from Chip Conley, former CEO of Joie DeVivre Hospitality. As a way to boost morale during difficult times, his hotel leadership team made expressing gratitude across departmental boundaries a regular practice. Leaders were encouraged to share stories of team members doing something “above and beyond” in their leadership meetings, and then another leader would call that person to thank them for their great work.

Gratitude – especially important during challenging times

Think about the message this sends. Think about the emotional uplift it creates in the employee getting that call. Think about the effect doing this has on employees’ ability to keep their spirits up during difficult times.

Making the expression of gratitude a regular organizational practice is a tremendous antidote to employees’ feeling afraid, overwhelmed, and beleaguered during difficult times.

So how about focusing on what you feel grateful for…and then letting others know what it is about them and what they do that you feel grateful for.

Better still…ask your team to start doing this and make it a part of your team meetings.

And then, don’t make gratitude a Thanksgiving thing.

Make it an everyday life thing.

David Lee is the founder and principal of HumanNature@work and the creator of Stories That Change. He's an internationally recognized authority on organizational and managerial practices that optimize employee performance, morale, and engagement. He is also the author of "Managing Employee Stress and Safety," as well over 60 articles and book chapters. You can download more of his articles at HumanNature@work, contact him at david@humannatureatwork.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/humannaturework.
  • MARIE

    THANKS FOR REMINDING US OF WHAT THE REAL FOCUS SHOULD BE ON AND DOING FOR OTHERS IS THE ONLY WAY WE WILL LEARN ABOUT OUR TRUE SELVES AND FEEL GENUINE HAPPINESS ! MARIE

  • Randy Hain

    A “culture of we” and a personalized thank you, here and there, goes a long way in employee engagement and morale. It’s free and means more to most than a raise every six months. As managers, we must take it upon ourselves to recognize our employees and build an inclusive, happy culture. – Randy Hain, Managing Partner, Bell Oaks Executive Search