Thanksgiving is the holiday for giving thanks for the great things and people in our lives. But thankfulness isn’t just for the festive season, it can also play a powerful role in the workplace.
Gratitude at the workplace has been linked with benefits like fewer sick days, lower levels of work stress, and greater job satisfaction. It also impacts people on a personal level, improving relationships (including work relationships), physical health, and even sleep.
Despite all the benefits it lauds, it can be awkward to show gratitude. This is especially true when either the company or country’s culture is not used to public shows of gratefulness. If your company struggles with the phrase “thank you”, doing gratitude exercises may be awkward, uncomfortable, and even frustrating. To help reap the benefits that gratitude can bring to the company, consider creating avenues or events to show gratitude. Even if the occasion feels orchestrated, genuine gratitude can still be conveyed and felt.
If you're looking to create a culture of gratitude in your workplace, here are some tips and exercises to get you started.
Tips on how to practice gratitude in the workplace
When managers take the lead, others will follow. This is true for creating a culture of gratitude, especially when managers are the ones that employees often seek gratitude from. Studies have shown that when managers play a key role in shaping company culture and, when they take the initiative to show gratitude in the workplace, employees’ performance improves and they become more engaged.
Douglas Conant, ex-CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, notably gave out 30,000 handwritten notes to his employees.
Thank the unthanked
While there are people who remain in the limelight and get a lot of the credit, there are often people who get less of the credit because they work behind the scenes.
Take some time to reflect: who are these people in your organization? When was the last time someone thanked them for their hard work? Gratitude isn’t just for the shining stars of the company. Make sure there’s enough to go around.
The culture of gratitude
Gratitude can be conveyed in different ways. Studies show that gratitude actually looks and feels different across cultures. For instance, children in China favoured connective gratitude, or an offering of something significant, such as help or friendship. On the other hand, children in Brazil favoured concrete gratitude, or a token such as a gift or food. Americans favour verbal gratitude, thanking people often or offering compliments.
Be sure to tailor gratitude to the culture that they’re in, especially for international and diverse teams. When in doubt, ask your team: “How would you show gratitude?” A discussion on the topic will show that their individuality matters.
Gratitude Exercises you can try with Pigeonhole Live
Here are some fun examples of gratitude exercises you can run with Pigeonhole Live. Using Pigeonhole Live doesn’t just help facilitate meaning discussions, it also helps bring them to an online space, making it perfect for remote-working or international teams.
Gratitude Word Cloud
Make gratitude visual. For a more bigger-picture gratitude exercise, create a visually-impactful Word Cloud with many things to be grateful for. This may also focus on gratitude outside of the workplace, allowing for a heart-warming sharing session that motivates and energises teams.
To truly make this exercise impactful, focus on simplicity. Keeping answers to a few words or even emojis can help make the Word Cloud generated stand out.
Try these simple prompts:
- What are you grateful for today?
- Who are you grateful for today?
- What food are you grateful for today?
- Write about someplace you’ve been that you’re grateful for.
Thank You Note Board
Who in this company are you thankful for? Use Pigeonhole Live’s Open-ended Poll as a digital Thank You Note Board to crowdsource statements of gratitude for people in the company. This could be simple tasks like helping to make coffee for colleagues in the morning, or having an infectious positive attitude. If employees are shy to express gratitude openly, allow anonymous entries to ease the way.
This is also a great opportunity to thank the people that don’t get much credit in day-to-day tasks, so take the opportunity to write thankful notes for them.
When gratitude is awkward, all you need is a little guidance. Providing some helpful prompts could help crowdsource statements of gratitude from team members. Just open an Open-Ended Poll, and try some of the following prompts:
- What’s something that you’re looking forward to?
- What’s a simple pleasure that you’re grateful for?
- What’s a guilty pleasure that you’re grateful for?
- What are you most grateful for on a bad day?
- What are you grateful for in the office?
- What skill(s) do you have that you’re grateful for?
Use these at the beginning of the week or as an icebreaker for meetings to set a positive tone for the work week ahead.