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The Immeasurable Value of Gratitude in the Workplace

employees celebrating a team member on their accomplishment in a meeting

The positive impact of expressing gratitude is far from a new concept, yet we often need a reminder. My seven-year-old daughter showed me its power through a simple note: “I’m grateful you’re my dad because you play card games with me.” This small gesture was a profound reminder of how simple acts deeply affect those around us.

In my 25 years in business leadership, I’ve discovered that gratitude is more than good manners and small acts of kindness — it catalyzes resilience and growth. A simple practice, like saying, “hi,” “please,” and “thank you” to everyone, can significantly affect corporate culture.

Although expressing one’s gratitude seems simple enough, a survey from the John Templeton Foundation showed there’s a gratitude gap when it comes to the workplace. According to respondents, their work setting was the place they felt less likely to feel or express gratitude, with 60% saying they never or rarely show gratitude at work.

Why is the importance of gratitude so clear when it comes to our loved ones or client relationships, but not so much in our work environments? There are many business benefits of embracing gratitude in the workplace that can lead to overall success and added value. Let’s explore a few of the main benefits.

Fostering Team-Driven Leadership and Integrity

In competitive fields, like sports and business, gratitude distinguishes good leaders from great ones. Acknowledging a competitors’ strengths, like a seasoned athlete commends a rival, shows grace and reinforces organizational integrity. When leaders genuinely admire a competitors’ achievements, it enhances the company’s reputation and sets a powerful example for the team. Expressing gratitude at work also shows vulnerability and authenticity, allowing for stronger connections to be made in a setting where many feel pressured to suppress those emotions.

Boosting Collaboration and Creativity

When team members feel appreciated by their leaders and grateful for their surrounding colleagues, it creates an environment rich in respect and lays the groundwork for collaborative progress. For example, we start each meeting at Creative Planning Business Services by sharing personal and professional highlights. This practice brings a human touch to meetings, sparking creativity and celebrating achievements.

Enhancing Employee Performance

Groundbreaking studies by Francesca Gino and Adam Grant have illuminated the positive effects of gratitude on workplace performance. Acknowledging team effort fuels the drive to exceed goals and fosters a calm, patient work environment, which reduces team member stress and allows for teams to not only focus on their work but also take pride in it. According to Gino and Grant, exhibiting gratitude to colleagues also boosts their readiness to assist others. The two conducted several studies arriving at this finding, including one where individuals who edited a student’s cover letter either received a neutral response or a thankful note from the student. Those who were thanked were twice as likely to offer assistance again compared to those who weren’t. In essence, a lack of gratitude can halve the likelihood of future help — and in the workplace, this can lead to a toxic environment.

How to Integrate Gratitude Into Daily Operations

Gratitude can be seamlessly integrated into business operations through a variety of methods, ranging from those as simple as remembering to say “please” and “thank you” to developing strategic initiatives that establish an appreciative culture. Here are some simple ways to embrace gratitude at the workplace that may seem like a given but are often forgotten:

  1. Recognize and appreciate employees by acknowledging their birthdays. This gesture not only honors their special day but also fosters a more engaging work environment.
  2. Make it a routine to personally express gratitude for the individual contributions that propel the organization forward. This infectious action could be public recognition among peers or through a heartfelt handwritten note to an individual. Consider having managers survey how their team members prefer to be recognized, as it can differ greatly.
  3. Openly celebrate achievements, recognizing collective and individual successes. Hit a recent revenue goal or have a team member reach a job anniversary? Share it! This approach reinforces the value of each team member’s efforts and cultivates a collaborative space.
  4. Complete communication cycles. Always provide a response when someone is anticipating one, even if you don’t quite have an answer. Leaving inquiries unanswered can drive team members toward your competitors or their future employers. Make it a best practice never to leave anyone hanging.
  5. Adopt and encourage an appreciative tone at all organizational levels. Like any other company value, it should start at the top and cascade throughout for the biggest impact on overall culture.

The foundation of a thriving business is establishing a culture where gratitude and respect aren’t merely encouraged but rather are standard expectations in every exchange. When a business integrates appreciation into the core of its operations, it has a strong ripple effect that impacts all those who interact with it, from employees to clients and even competitors.

As we approach Thanksgiving and the season of giving, let’s commit to infusing gratitude into our professional lives and remember Maya Angelou’s words:

”I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.“

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families from Creative Planning Business Services!

This commentary is provided for general information purposes only, should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice, and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship. Past performance of any market results is no assurance of future performance. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.


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