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Part 2: Creating a Culture of Gratitude in Your Organization

March 23, 2022

In Part 1 of this series, we defined the difference between gratitude and thankfulness. We identified gratitude as a basic human requirement — something that, when present, makes us feel good and spurs us to be our best. Since we spend eight hours or more a day in our workplaces, giving and receiving thanks at work, can foster a culture of gratitude that lifts everyone, every day.

Employee Appreciation Day is a once-a-year event, but cultivating kindness in the workplace every day will naturally lead to an environment of gratitude that will boost employee engagement and satisfaction.

The Big Benefits of Gratitude

Writing for Forbes, former contributor and entrepreneur Karl Sun tells us that gratitude can provide big benefits — backed up by science — that include “increased productivity, job satisfaction, and physical and mental health.”

Cultivating a culture of gratitude leads to big benefits for businesses and their employees, including:

  • Improved productivity. Employees will work harder when they feel that the work they do is appreciated.
  • Enriched relationships — both at work and at home. When employees feel they are appreciated, they will build bonds with those who show this gratefulness for their efforts — that could be their supervisors and managers, their colleagues, senior leaders, customers, and others. The positive feelings this gratitude instills in employees will extend to their personal lives and help them build stronger relationships there as well.
  • Increased job satisfaction. Why do we like what we do? Often because we get some sense of personal pleasure from doing it. That could be intrinsic (we simply love the work) or extrinsic (others tell us what a great job we do and how much they appreciate us). That’s gratitude and it leads to improved job satisfaction.
  • Better mental and physical well-being. When we feel that others value our contributions, we are likely to feel less stressed about the work that we do — we know others appreciate it, we know they “have our backs.” This can help contribute to both mental and physical well-being.
  • Fosters a positive team culture and reduces toxicity. Gratitude is easily spread and creates a ripple effect, inherently perpetuating a positive team culture.

In short, creating a culture of gratitude is a win-win all the way around.

As we saw in Part 1, it takes a village to create a culture and climate of gratitude. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to create a culture of gratitude in your organization.

How to Create a Culture of Gratitude in Your Organization

Gratitude is an ongoing process, not a single action. It is built based on a variety of different actions, attitudes and events that contribute to an overall climate that is supportive and engaging. Here are some things you can do — and encourage others in the organization to do—to build and sustain a culture of gratitude.

  • Provide frequent recognition. Frequent, meaningful recognition boosts employee engagement and leads to grater reception, productivity, and increased loyalty.
  • Lead by example. Cultivating community and inspiring loyalty happens when leadership shows empathy and leads by example. When you really hear and understand your employees, you embody the grateful behavior they want to see — and that they’ll mimic — and you’ll build their trust.
  • Encourage employees to pay it forward. When employees are recognized, the “feel good” effect of that gratitude will prompt them to pass it along to others, weaving the culture of gratitude into the fabric of your organization.
  • Cast a wide net. Gratitude shouldn’t have size limitations. You can show gratitude for a peer’s daily “can-do” attitude, for your team’s successful completion of a major project — and for everything in between.
  • Create WOW moments. When you express gratitude in personalized and specific ways, it will be cherished and remembered. Create WOW moments by showing how well you know and understand what each member of your multigenerational workforce values. The better you know what they cherish, the better you will be able to show kindness and gratitude in personalized and meaningful ways. Be authentic. Be sincere. And encourage everyone in your organization to do the same.
  • Provide a platform. Don’t leave gratitude to chance. Make it easy for employees to express their gratitude often and regularly by providing a vehicle to help them do that. A centralized, simple, employee engagement platform encourages thoughtful gratitude, making it easy for employees to stop and reflect on why they are grateful, and how they can show that appreciation.

It's not hard to create a culture of gratitude but it requires mindfulness and ongoing attention. Laying the foundation, setting the example, and providing ample opportunity for employees to express gratitude to others — as they receive gratitude themselves—will result in multiple rewards. Gratitude is contagious. Being grateful can lead to greater happiness and engagement, boosting employee satisfaction and motivating employees to deliver their very best, every day.

Topics: strategy, culture, team culture, employee appreciation