What you say at work can make a difference

Does your workplace need a culture change? Gratitude may just be the fairy dust you need. It works in magical ways to make employees feel more satisfied, fulfilled and even more productive! Especially if you are a leader at work, listen up! Almost any work environment can use an attitude of gratitude to boost its health! 

We know that gratitude can make people feel healthier in general and even increase resilience to stress. Now, what individual couldn't use that at work? But there is also research to show us that receiving thanks at work can help you do your work better. In a study done at Wharton School of Business, a group of phone solicitors in a fundraising campaign demonstrated this. When one cohort was given a pep talk by their director before the campaign, in which she expressed her gratefulness for their efforts, that group made 50% more calls than their counterparts! Yes, hearing someone appreciated their work helped them to do work harder.

There is also a "contagion" effect from gratitude. The more we see others express it, the more inclined we are to do the same. A leader at work really shifts the culture if s/he is outwardly and regularly thanking others. This gives us all more impetus to repeat the magic. 

This isn't hard to believe when we remind ourselves how gratitude works in the brain, specifically in the hypothalamus. When we receive or feel gratitude, we produce more dopamine and stimulate our reward centers. We basically create a cycle of awesome-ness that we want more and more of. Now that's a habit worth feeding.

Interestingly, the research also shows that the person expressing gratitude ALSO feels better and happier from doing this kind act. Yet, when surveyed, only 10% of those who expressed this fact acted on this knowledge each day. In other words, they suppressed their gratitude and that's a whole lot of goodness to keep from floating around the workplace. Especially when the research also shows that gratitude at work is linked to higher job satisfaction. So acting on those urges to show thanks could help us feel better about work. Now think about that. This ethereal fairy dust could make you  feel better about doing your job without actually changing your job. That is really quite amazing. 

How do you create a culture of gratitude in your workplace?

1. Role model the magic.

If you are a leader, show your employees that expressing gratitude is a normal and welcome act. The more you do it, the more others will. And if you are not a manager of others, you can still be a leader by changing the culture in this way. Why wait for others?

2. Create space and opportunity for gratitude. 

Do you have regular times when people can give kudos to others? In regular meetings? At the start of a day? How can you make a cultural expectation that we look for the good in others? This can build trust and foster better relationships which always helps teams work more cohesively.

3. Don't forget the gratitude jar. 

Remember this tool that we introduced so early in the blog? If not, go back and read that post as well. We have one in our team room in the hospital. Where can you place one in your workplace? It is so elegant and simple. Anyone can put as I call them, a "grateful", in there at anytime. And later, they can be read as a group. They help us find the good when the day seems all bad. Especially important for work groups in crisis or tough times. 

4. Everyone deserves thanks. 

Remember this. There is no one whose contribution does not make the whole team better. The intern in the office, the janitors keeping the place organized for your next day, everyone deserves thanks. And you will also feel better when you give it out so there is no downside to this kind of medicine!

5. Be specific about your gratitude.

The more details you can give someone, the more authentic your gratitude will be. Instead of "Thanks for doing that," next time try something like "Thanks for taking on that project, your excellent communication skills will allow it to run more smoothly." Not only do people enjoy receiving gratitude, they enjoy specific reasons why you appreciate them. 

Don't reserve your gratitude practice for just your family and friends. Let all that goodness spill into your workplace and even if you don't know people that well, let this be a way you build relationships. The more thankful you are, the happier you will feel. And the more happy people there are at work, the better off we all are!

Live (and work) well,