Practicing Gratitude at the Workplace

A small gesture expressing thanks does not take much effort. It does, however, go a long way. 

Practicing gratitude at the workplace is linked with many benefits—including improved wellbeing, positive emotions, decreased stress levels, and higher motivation. 

Douglas Conant, as CEO of Campbell Soup, wrote and sent out roughly 30,000 notes to employees across all hierarchies. He believed that writing handwritten notes built goodwill and lead to higher productivity

When you make efforts to show gratitude to others, it comes back to you. Let’s take the example above. When Conant was in the hospital after a serious accident, he received a multitude of notes wishing him recovery, from his employees and other people. This reflects on how spreading kindness makes its way back to you.  

Practicing gratitude at the workplace can take many forms. It is quick and simple—yet bears large positive outcomes. Let’s have a look at a few ways you can implement this practice. 

1. Say ‘thank you’ whenever possible 

Yes, we were all taught this when we learnt basic manners as young children. But how many times do you actually implement this at work? Do you remember to thank the maintenance staff for repairing that broken lock? Or your coworker who helped you recover that lost document? Or your boss for agreeing to let you off an hour early so you don’t get stuck in the fog on your way back home? There are so many things, big and small, to be thankful for. You should make it a habit to thank others whenever the opportunity calls for it. 

2. Create a gratitude board 

Pick a random bulletin board in your office and grab a set of sticky notes and markers. Have your employees scribble down a word or a phrase depicting what they are thankful for at work. This activity can be carried out at the end of every day, and each employee can jot down one thing that they’d felt grateful for at work on that day. You can also carry it out on a weekly or fortnightly basis.  

3. Write handwritten notes 

Writing and sending out handwritten notes to your employees or coworkers adds a personalized touch to the gesture. In an environment that is so heavily digitized, a piece of paper with a personal message scribbled on it is likely to stand out even more—thus garnering more appreciation. It’s a habit that requires little to no effort or time, but one that the receiver will appreciate a great deal.  

4. Express gratitude in virtual communication

Most of us communicate with other employees, and team leads, via messaging or email throughout the workday and much of these messages involve asking others to perform certain tasks. Adding a small thank you at the end of these messages/emails doesn’t hurt. Neither does saying thanks to the relevant person when they complete that task and inform you about it. 

5. Swap “I’m sorry” with “thank you” 

The purpose of doing this? It cultivates an atmosphere of appreciation and gratitude. For example, instead of saying ‘’I’m sorry for not completing this project in time”, say “Thank you for waiting for me to finish this task”. Or perhaps instead of saying ‘’I’m sorry for misunderstanding the guidelines”, you can say, “Thank you for clarifying the instructions”. Try it out. You will notice the difference. 

6. Keep an appreciation jar 

This is similar to the gratitude board practice, but a great exercise regardless. You can keep an ‘appreciation jar’ at the entrance door of the office and request each employee to scribble down what they are grateful for, on a routinely basis and drop the chit in the jar. Then at the end of every week, you can gather everyone around and one person can read out all the chits. This will make people realize the different things that one has to be grateful for. It will also bring some things to the surface that some people might be taking for granted, and make them realize that this is something that they are lucky to have or experience.  

7. Appreciate team members in meetings 

There have probably been times when a team member has put forth an idea at the conference table and you’ve found yourself thinking, ‘I wish I’d thought of that’. Instead of appreciating their thoughts in silence, speak up about it. Let them know you think it’s a good idea. Thank them for their contribution—it will foster a positive environment.  

Gratitude is an important factor in all facets of our lives. Practicing it at the workplace, routinely, would be a good start.