Gratitude is a heartfelt act that warms, deepens, and enriches connection. It allows us to connect to something bigger and beyond ourselves as individuals, such as with nature, a higher power, or other people.
As a creative force of inherent goodness, gratitude has a gravitational pull upon increasing acceptance, tolerance, and empathy, helping humans to gel with one another in positive and uplifting ways. In a workforce, these benefit greater harmony in relationships, stimulate a supportive environment, and are a primer for unity of purpose.
When the way is paved for the practice of expressing gratitude to percolate through workplace culture, the social fabric of the workforce can be strengthened, and the mental and physical wellness of individuals advantaged. It can breed a sense of belongingness, create a feeling of being valued, elevate positive emotions of happiness and optimism, lower blood pressure, and boost the immune system. They are good reasons for why workplace gratitude, truly is a wellbeing gift.
Workplace Gratitude — The Wellbeing Gift That Keeps On Giving
Acts of gratitude towards other people can have a countering or cascading effect. When we are the recipient of someone’s gratitude, most often there is a compelling desire to want to respond with our own act of kindness or appreciation. Or it may provide the motivation to want to pay it forward to another person. When an attitude of gratitude spreads throughout a workforce it has power to be a stimulus for transformation. Happier and healthier workers will positively impact any workplace. So, workplace gratitude is a wellbeing gift that will keep on giving and giving.
But gratitude must be authentic, free of any ulterior motive. Appreciating small things is just as important as recognising the obvious. Give light to hidden gems. Within an organisation it can sometimes be humble quiet achievers, who are contributing the most significantly, to the success of the business.
Workplace Gratitude — Reflecting, Responding, and Resolving
There is usually no shortage of opportunities to express gratitude in a workplace. Though it can be too easy to become self-absorbed with our own job responsibilities, that we miss seeing some of the good that is happening around us. But to stay aware of the opportunities, there are 3 key words that can provide a context for gratitude. They are Reflecting, Responding, and Resolving.
“Reflecting” ponders and acknowledges past events. “Responding” acts in answer to what is happening in the present moment. “Resolving” is future-oriented, smoothing the way for a successful path forward. An expression of gratitude in a situation, may spring from just one of those events, or could envelope two, or all three in the same occasion.
As a worker, you may be absent for a few days with a family emergency, then return to work to discover thoughtful colleagues had ensured your workload didn’t pile up while you were away. “Reflecting” on how much you appreciate the thoughtfulness of your colleagues, you go buy them barista-made coffees and express your gratefulness for their help.
In the role of a team leader, and “responding” to a new employee on their first day, you could make certain that the on-boarding is as welcoming as possible. While introducing the new team member to co-workers, you may express your gratitude to the employee for choosing to join your organisation over a competitor. You could also share appreciation for the new worker’s particular skill-set and explain how those skills will add value to the team.
Imagine as a business owner, a staff member who crystalises an idea for a project that will propel your business through present barriers to successfully expand into new markets. Genuine gratitude for “resolving” the challenge that was faced, might for example be achieved by an innovation award for the staff member, or perhaps promotion to be the lead for the Project.
When a loyal long-standing employee informs their manager that they are moving on to another company, it may produce a mixture of emotion. But gratitude can help in navigating the situation. The manager could use a farewell dinner involving team mates to “reflect” upon the exiting employee’s contribution and milestones achieved for the company. It would be opportune to recognise and “respond” to the employee’s courage in expanding their horizons. And other team members could also “respond” in that moment by expressing their personal gratitude for how much the employee means to them. As well, in “resolving” the path forward, the manager may assure the employee that they are going with everyone’s best wishes. And as a further act of gratitude for how much the employee is valued, convey that the door is open to the employee should they choose to return. An employee who exits a business feeling appreciated, is an outcome that’s positive for the employee and the business.
Workplace Gratitude & Leadership
Business leaders influence the direction, tone, and culture of their organisation. How teams and individuals are recognised and rewarded, and the measures of support for enhancing personal and professional development and growth, are within a leader’s sphere of leverage. A leader who models and cultivates gratitude in their organisation creates potential for far-reaching benefits. These include greater engagement, more cooperation, less absenteeism, increased motivation, better productivity, and higher levels of worker-fitness. Workers who feel grateful, valued, and appreciated, are much more likely to bring a positive presence into their workplace.
ROHAN WATSON is a member of the Australian Counselling Association and a general member of the International Association of Applied Neuroscience. He holds graduate and post-graduate qualifications in Psychology, Counselling and Education from Monash University and USQ, including a Master of Counselling (Advanced Practice) degree awarded with Distinction.
As a Psychotherapist, Counsellor and Mental Health Researcher, Rohan is dedicated to helping unlock the potential in people to live happily and more purposefully. His Toowoomba Counselling & Coaching services supports people from all walks and seasons of life.
Rohan has facilitated and delivered mental health programs across rural and remote Australia. He provides professional psychotherapy services to employees at all levels nationally through EAP based services. He is a highly sought-after Marriage Counsellor and Relationship Counselling specialist. Rohan has also researched workplace wellbeing, with early intervention mental health strategies in workplaces continuing to be a focus area of special interest. Learn more.