4 Ways to Lead with Gratitude at Work

RAFT Team, November 21, 2022

With fall in the air and Covid a lower threat than it was a year ago, it feels like there’s a lot to be thankful for. Yes, even gratitude at work. But here’s an interesting statistic: Americans think our personal gratitude is increasing while everyone else’s is going down. Impossible, right?

Highest on the gratitude list of things to be thankful for from a recent survey was for family and freedom. But lowest was gratitude for their current workplace. In fact, the least likely place for anyone to express gratitude is at work. Sixty percent said they never or only once a year express gratitude at work. Less than 15% of people express daily gratitude to colleagues. And 35% said they never thanked their bosses. The irony of these numbers is that everyone wishes to experience more gratitude in the workplace.

Even though we feel better and are more motivated when we share gratitude at work, we’re actively making our own lives miserable daily in this arena by keeping silent.

Why should we boost our gratitude output at work? Here are 5 reasons:

  • Gratitude Makes You Happier
  • Gratitude Improves Employee Relationships
  • Gratitude Boosts Empathy
  • Increases Employee’s Self-Worth & Self-Efficacy
  • Improves Trust

Learn more about all the ways gratitude can impact your daily life here.

Keep reading to find the 4 ways you can rally the gratitude culture at work and incorporate it into daily life for all your employees.

Start With You

If you want your employees to be more fluent in their gratitude, it has to start with you. Show them what it’s like to not just see your gratitude in action, but to feel the confidence boost a little gratitude provides when it’s aimed their way.

Be the one who readily thanks others. Notice the little things. Know who is pulling the strings and making things happen behind the scenes. Really get to know your people so you understand what each contributes. They’ll appreciate being seen more than you can probably imagine.

No one likes fake gratitude. Be clear, consistent, and authentic about your gratitude, not just in public but also in private. Call people out in big meetings for the things they’ve accomplished but also consider leaving them a sticky note on their computer that only they will see. Each has a different effect on the receiver — both are valuable.

Build Gratitude Into Your Work Culture

During Hiring

When you hire someone new, ask them how they like to be thanked. Each personality type will have a slightly different answer, so it’s best to check in on this. This thoughtfulness goes a long way!

Performance Reviews

Most employees get nervous about performance reviews. Instead of only going over things to be improved, take time for some kudos about what they’re doing well. This can be in the actual work itself, their interaction with others, or their perspective. 

Staff Meetings

Set aside a few minutes at the beginning of staff meetings for people to express gratitude to one another. Not only will this be an encouragement for everyone, it won’t be long before everyone starts to come to each meeting prepared for this sharing time.

Employee Exit

When an employee leaves, throw them a party and let the focus be on all the things they contributed to improve your company. They’ll leave on a high note and step into their next season of life confidently.

Conflict Resolution

When you’re called on to help mitigate a problem, take the time to express gratitude to each participant before you roll into the conflict. This is where your noticing skills come in handy — it won’t be difficult to find some area of their work to express gratitude for. This helps set a higher standard and lets each party know you’re coming to the table with as little bias as possible.

Thank the Unseen Workers

At every company, there are those that do the work quietly behind the scenes. Don’t forget to express gratitude to this special group — they’re much of the reason your company runs smoothly! Without their help, a lot of things might go sideways!

  • Janitors
  • Payroll
  • Trainers
  • Safety Personnel 
  • Organizers

Provide Opportunities for Others’ Gratitude

Gratitude Bulletin Board

Consider creating a public place where people can express gratitude to their colleagues. This might be a bulletin board or a staff-only page on your website. The easier you make it, the more the gratitude will flow. If you have a bulletin board, keep it stocked with slips of paper and pens to remove every barrier as you can from this experience.

Resilience Training

Provide opportunities for your staff to grow their resilience. Trainings, self-care classes, philanthropic opportunities…anything that will help your staff improve their mental and emotional health will make your work culture even better. 

We offer free resilience workshops — find out more here.

Debrief After Stress

If your company goes through a difficult situation or season, take the time to debrief with your staff afterwards. This time can help you grow closer as a company and strategize to make any future experiences less stressful. Here are a few questions that will stir gratitude and help build resilience:

  • What lesson did this teach us?
  • Can we find a way to be thankful now even though we couldn’t be in the moment of stress?
  • What ability surfaced that surprised us?
  • Has the workplace become better as a result?

This holiday season is especially difficult for Advocates. If you’re a DV or SV organization, put some time on the calendar to talk with your staff. See how they’re holding up and what you might do as a company to support them more effectively.