Straight from the Lab

Creating a culture of gratitude can boost productivity, job satisfaction, and more.

Giving and receiving gratitude in the workplace directly impacts job satisfaction, well-being, and burnout. While we all know it feels good to be thanked, the benefits of working with a culture of gratitude can go even further.

By consistently making an effort to demonstrate gratitude for colleagues, managers, and executive leadership, employees can pave a path toward optimizing productivity, performance, job satisfaction, and workplace relationships.

Establishing Trust and Strengthening Relationships

Let’s say you’ve got a big presentation coming up and you have to work through lunch to finish it in time. Then, out of nowhere, your coworker offers to help by making copies. Not only is she sharing the workload, reducing your stress, and sacrificing her time with a task that isn’t much fun, she’s also giving you the opportunity to convey your gratitude for her actions. Your coworker benefits – and you do, too.

This is the sweet spot for establishing trust and strengthening the relationship.

In a recent iDea lab webinar called “The Power of Thanks at Work – How Gratitude Can Help Organizations and Employees Thrive,” renowned researcher and educator Dr. Kristin Koetting O’Byrne (known as Dr. KK) discussed the ways in which a culture of gratitude is linked to organizational citizenship; helping, cooperation, and teamwork; and corporate social responsibility. By expressing gratitude, employees foster an open, sharing environment – one that allows for greater employee buy-in, ownership, and support for completing projects and meeting business goals.

“When we express our gratitude, we benefit, the other person benefits, and the relationship benefits,” Dr. KK explained in the webinar. “Practicing and expressing gratitude … is one of the simplest things you can do to enhance your well-being – and the well-being of your organization.”

Mitigating Employee Turnover and Boosting Productivity

Dr. KK said that, according to Bloomberg, employee turnover costs organizations more than $11 billion. The number one reason people leave their jobs? Feeling unappreciated.

Companies can create a culture of gratitude by first acknowledging its importance, and then finding and prioritizing the ways employees want to be shown they’re appreciated. Some examples include public and private recognition, providing training and development, giving the employee additional responsibilities, or offering fun team-building activities. People like to be shown appreciation face-to-face, via email or thank you note, or even in a group setting. The benefit to individual productivity can be fruitful, according to Dr. KK. She explained that 81% of employees say they would work harder for a grateful boss.

In her webinar, Dr. KK also provided examples of how gratitude boosts productivity:

  • Healthy employees have fewer sick days.
  • Happy employees sleep better and make fewer mistakes on the job.
  • Goodwill guards against toxic emotions in the workplace, such as jealousy and injustice.
  • Happiness contributes to overall job satisfaction.

Increasing Work Engagement

Sometimes gratitude is the key to cultivating and sustaining healthy, happy relationships in the workplace, explained Dr. KK. These relationships help to facilitate decision-making that benefits the team. Gratitude also builds “authentic connections between people,” which then fosters engagement and retention in the workplace.

Dr. KK reinforced the importance of gratitude in the workplace by quoting Sam Walton who said, “Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.”

Watch iDea lab’s on-demand webinar to learn how gratitude enhances the workplace through greater productivity, job satisfaction, and employee well-being.