Go Soft – Talk Gratitude in the Workplace

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.” – Melody Beattie

Let’s open this exposition with two questions – what do you consider most important when working in a company? What do you as a company understand to be one of the most important factors that lead to satisfaction amongst employees? While compensation and benefits could be top most, the changing scenario has ensured that employees now will not settle only for that. They expect and deserve – respect, recognition, importance and the overriding factor of gratitude. Gratitude in the workplace lends a feeling of belonging and makes people believe in the purpose of their work and the company. Nothing says value more than a simple thank you for work that has been done well and with dedication. Gratitude in the workplace must start from the top levels for it to permeate the entire organization and maybe even become part of the overall culture. Simple acts and expressions of gratefulness go a long in motivating people and making them want to contribute to the success and growth of the company.

The fact is that without gratitude in business it would be an uphill task to sustain goodwill and growth as employees would soon get disgruntled and leave the organization and also make their discontent known to others. When gratitude in business is a culture, employees also learn to appreciate and value each other and the efforts of the company ensuring innovation, excellent work output and great customer service become habits. If a company appears self-centred and thankless, people soon disengage with it, disconnect with each other, close their mind to new initiatives and learning and incidents of disrespect, strife, absenteeism and other such negative behaviour become commonplace. We know from experience in everyday life too that when we feel unappreciated, stress and frustration sets in which in turn lower our morale and capability to do anything well. The fact is that when a person is dissatisfied in the workplace, they tend to carry this feeling home and soon the work to home and back to work bad mood becomes a vicious cycle that is tough to break. Companies must go soft – begin to talk gratitude in the workplace (among other ‘softies’) if they wish to succeed long term.

Gratitude in the workplace should be amongst the core values and principles of any company in order to affect and sustain growth and success. Even though this value is highly critical and is often the fuel for career and personal development of employees and the company, most organizations fail to make it a practice and overlook the need to include it in the value statement of their company. Even employees probably don’t put gratitude at the workplace as a top priority but only realize its importance when this value eludes them despite their best efforts. Gratitude in the workplace makes people feel happier and remain optimistic and even if there are setbacks, they are more willing to let go of the negative feelings and move forward because they feel appreciated and valued. Such a workforce is happier and able to manage stressful and demanding situations better and incidence of physical and mental ill-health are significantly reduced.

It is the responsibility of every company and its leaders to create an environment where people know that their efforts are noticed and recognized and in return would be motivated to give their best. Gratitude in the workplace is also therefore instrumental in keeping negativity out and the toxic conditions it encourages. Expressing gratefulness to the employees generates positivity, fosters cohesion and lets them know that no effort would go unrecognized and that they should speak up if they believe that even a minor achievement went unnoticed. When a company gives its employees a voice, the employees tend to trust and be more loyal to the company. Companies that recognize the value and importance of these aspects are the ones that achieve sustained success and are able to show outstanding results for their other stakeholders too.

Gratitude in the workplace and personally is a value and quality that can be easily inculcated. There is no doubt that at times when situations are tough and seem beyond control, negativity and assigning blame can easily overtake the environment. Each person would look out for themselves and gratitude is the last thing on people’s mind. However, it is imperative that companies manage crisis better and ensure that gratitude in the workplace is a given and consistently strive to ensure that each person plays their part. Many companies and people who achieve the proverbial ‘success’, often believe that they were able to achieve what they did on their own. This is very far removed from the truth – no one can achieve or do anything in a vacuum and it is vital that gratitude in the workplace and in one’s personal life is practiced daily. Gratitude begets gratefulness and also increases a sense of appreciation and value in people for others.

It is a given and accepted fact that there would be times when negative feelings, annoyances and hard times overwhelm people in the workplace and outside and people forget the importance of being grateful and positive. However, it is in everyone’s best interest to remember that negative feelings reduce motivation and drain one of energy and the will to contribute. When gratitude in the workplace becomes a mind-set, like other positive qualities, tough times would not last long. The other important aspect of being grateful is that it must be expressed – in the words of Gertrude Stein “silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone”- people are not mind-readers. It must be practice to show and express gratitude and let everyone know what the recipient of the thank you did. Gratitude in the workplace should not only be the responsibility of the leaders or managers – any level of employees can express their gratitude to a person in authority too. For example – if they are given a job role or assignment to help them develop and grow, heartfelt gratitude must be expressed for the opportunity.

Gratitude in the workplace also extends to showing appreciation for your customers and other stakeholders. Customers just love to be shown gratefulness and companies can do so by posting comments and ‘thank you’ messages on their social media sites and website. Such public appreciation will win gratefulness in return and can raise your company’s reputation and goodwill in an otherwise cut-throat and volatile environment. When a company’s brand campaign is successful, it is not unusual to see appreciation messages flashed over every media channel possible – this boosts the company’s chances of receiving continued support.

It is never acceptable to take anyone or their efforts for granted. Each person that contributes something positive to a person’s life deserves gratitude. Gratitude in the workplace follows the same principle – ensure that when giving thanks it is done with feeling and the recipient is able to feel the genuineness in the expression. The recipient must know that their words and actions had a significant positive impact and feeling appreciated would goad them to do better and more next time. This is the ideal way for companies to get the best from their employees on a sustained basis and which anyone running a business knows is the shortest route to success.

Given the above, it is safe to say that gratitude in the workplace will increase the bottom-line for any company – employees stay with you and customers will come back, with repeat business and also recommend you to their friends, when they know that they are valued and appreciated. A heartfelt note or word of appreciation to a customer will ensure that they would be willing to overlook any small and one-time error – this would also be the way to differentiate your company from that of competition. Choose gratitude in the workplace and elsewhere to grow positivity and enhance your chances of success.

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