“Be thankful you’ve got a job.” I’m sure most of us have heard this at one time or another in our lives. But this isn’t quite what we’re going for with this post.
Gratitude, in its essence, is recognizing that much of our success has to do with things that are outside of our control, in particular the work of other people, other departments, other teams. Gratitude and success, then, are inextricably tied.
Building a culture of gratitude takes time, mindfulness, and strategy. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, so easy to forget those magic words. “Thank you,” though, is a powerful way to improve employee engagement and set the stage for a culture of gratitude.
Here are 9 tips to build a culture of gratitude and improve employee engagement.
1. Say, “Thank you.” Say it publicly. Send an e-mail. Include it in the newsletter. Be specific. Recognize the work. “Thank you for staying late in order to turn the report in on time.” “Thank you for your help training the new assistant.” Sprinkling gratitude, being specific about it, and being sincere about it, are moments to help someone, or team, feel valued. This is no small thing.
2. Relationships matter. Supporting relationships and friendships at the workplace is a great way to get people to connect. This can begin with gratitude.
3. Make it part of every meeting. Take time to acknowledge others’ outstanding work during meetings – big and small accomplishments. This is important. It tells your employees you’re paying attention. It gives them incentive to show up to work and perform. And it creates a domino effect of recognition. It also shifts the meeting from a whiner mentality to a proactive, solution-centered mentality.
4. Provide growth opportunities. If there’s one spot at a convention, give it to a high performer (instead of taking it for yourself). If there’s an opportunity for someone to pitch an idea to a big client, give that to them. Find out about training and workshop opportunities to share with your team. These moments can be big in someone’s career. Being a giver is an inherent part of gratitude.
5. Collaboration trumps the Lone Ranger. The mystery of the lone genius who saves the day is pretty much a Hollywood myth. When the workplace, from the top down, values collaboration over individual contributors, it helps create a culture of gratitude.
6. Build up your Corporate Social Responsibility Programs. Being part of an organization that gives back to the community is powerful. Giving employees opportunities to volunteer and work with the organization’s CSR program helps employees have an impact career – a career that makes a difference in the lives of others.
7. Put your cards on the table. Sometimes for an organization to change gears, senior leaders and managers simply need to sit at the table and address the need for a culture of gratitude. Then come up with strategies to work on this – to be thankful for the big and small. This is all about communication and making gratitude part of the organizational values.
8. Create strategies. Simple things like having “Thank you” cards available or setting up a virtual Thank you! Bulletin board for employees to shout out to others are ways to keep gratitude top of mind. On a grander scale, give employees the opportunity to nominate fellow colleagues for “best of the quarter”. Have incentives (bonuses, gift cards, time off) for winners of these employee-nominated, employee-voted prizes. When employees are part of the thanking cycle – as gratitude should be multi-directional – they help cement this corporate value.
9. Be respectful. Be kind. Always.
November 13 is World Kindness Day. November 22, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. Gratitude and kindness are two things the world needs a lot more of. How is your organization supporting, and living these two basic, human values? Take time to slow down and reflect, finding tangible ways to embrace these values, making gratitude part of your corporate culture.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!