What are you grateful for? Your family? A home? These are the typical go to’s when people discuss gratitude. Pop culture is filled with studies touting the benefits of gratitude for health, happiness, and overall well-being.
But is it good for business?
According to the Harvard Medical School editorial “In Praise of Gratitude,” gratitude, “helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.”
Think about that. When organizations devote time and energy to creating positive cultures, they’re often trying to achieve the exact same outcomes gratitude provides.
Historically, gratitude and the workplace have a troubling relationship. A Templeton survey found that 35 percent of respondents believed expressing any gratitude could lead coworkers to take advantage of them. But the same survey found, people were least likely to express gratitude in workplace, despite wishing to be thanked more often. People are yearning for the very thing they are afraid to express.
When we think about gratitude at work, we often picture a “you should be grateful for your job” mentality. It’s hardly a rallying cry. Mandating gratitude doesn’t work. Yet teaching employees the skills to cultivate and express gratitude has lasting benefits for individual and the organization.
Imagine a customer service rep with the skills to do his basic job, yet their mood vacillates up and down on a regular basis. Now imagine that same service rep with the added skill to cultivate gratitude. Imagine the representative being grateful for each customer who calls. How would that affect the customers? Imagine the representative using gratitude to reset themselves after a bad call. How would it impact their colleagues and future customers?
Gratitude doesn’t mean humbly accepting scraps. Gratitude is a source of power and confidence. We teach gratitude as part of our culture consulting. Here are three things our clients have found most helpful:
1. Say thank you. And mean it.
Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino writes, “Receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too.”
A culture of gratitude starts with the leader. Verbally saying thank you helps you play the gratitude loop over in your head, and allows the “thankee” to do the same.
Take two seconds to look the person in the eye and smile when you say it. A mumbled “thanks” into your phone is good, eye contact and a smile is better.
3. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious.
Saying “great job” when someone closes a deal or stays up all night to resolve a customer issue is nice, but you can do more. Try integrating gratitude into mundane situations and even those that are problematic. For example, if a member of your team is behind on hitting their sales number, how can you help them feel gratitude? Talk about their best deals and the customers that have benefitted the most. Getting your team member into a space of gratitude ignites the brain chemicals that will give them the energy to act.
4. Reward it
You don’t have to develop a gratitude assessment or a Likert scale. Use anecdotal feedback to help you here. Point out examples of employees helping each other, serving grateful customers, or even saying thank you. Be specific when praising gratitude behaviors, employees will see it matters to you.
Technical skills are table stakes. Gratitude training takes your entire organization higher.