The power of gratitude at work
As many of us prepare to celebrate American Thanksgiving, with our special turkey orders placed, and flights booked for our far-flung family members, it seems appropriate to devote this edition of Moments of Clarity to the importance of expressing gratitude, particularly to those with whom we work.
A cornerstone of positive psychology, the personal benefits of acknowledging and expressing gratitude have been widely documented.
It’s also an ideal time for me personally to honour this subject, as I wish to express gratitude to the new CEO of Bermuda Clarity Institute, Gayle Gorman, who joined us last month.
Our Institute is alive with the joy of growth, energy and intention; and to honour Gayle’s appointment, we collaborated on this week’s article with some of the research she has done on this important subject. Read on.
Dr Martin E.P. Seligman, a leading psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories.
He discovered that: “When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.”
Recent studies have also demonstrated the benefits of expressing gratitude within our teams and organisations. Gratitude is not only critical to our personal wellbeing but also to that of our teams and organisations.
Yet, its role in business is often neglected. Recent research conducted by the John Templeton Foundation confirmed that the workplace is the least likely place to express gratitude.
This is counterproductive, as practising gratitude at work with our fellow team members makes us happier, improves our moods, and makes us feel more connected to others.
It can also enhance the sense of belonging and respect at work, which is related to higher job performance, less sick days, and lower turnover.
Want to know the top six benefits of increased gratitude at work? Research conducted by Plasticity Labs identified the following key findings:
1. A culture of gratitude plays a crucial role in the workplace. It predicts higher job satisfaction;
2. Practising gratitude at work makes the employees feel more grateful about their job in general;
3. Practising gratitude at work isn’t only related to current job satisfaction, but grateful employees also are found to be more satisfied with their jobs in six months’ time;
4. Employees who practice gratitude at work have a stronger sense of community;
5. Grateful employees tend to focus more on the things they appreciate at work, rather than on attention that is constantly geared towards searching for unresolved issues.
6. Grateful employees tend to focus more on the things they appreciate at work, rather than on those that annoy them.
It is also important to remember that gratitude not only positively impacts the recipient, (ie: the employee or co-worker who receives appreciation and support from their boss) but also positively affects the giver.
As New York Times’ best selling author Dan Heath nicely put in his book The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact, giving thanks to someone is a special moment.
He calls it “a defining moment”, in which you not only affect the receiver, but you also change yourself.
In our Learning Lab, Bermuda Clarity has found countless times that when we express gratitude, we become more vulnerable and authentic.
The connection with the other person strengthens, by promoting trust and mutual respect.
Gratitude in the workplace is especially critical because it satisfies the higher psychological need to feel a sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves – to feel a sense of meaning at work.
To summarise: gratitude goes hand in hand with the act of giving recognition. When we recognise one another, it makes us even more appreciative and inspires the person we’ve thanked to give that feeling to someone else, leading to a swell in happiness, wellbeing, morale, energy, and engagement – all of which directly influence performance, productivity, and retention.
This is the gratitude effect: a ripple of acknowledgement and appreciation that surges forward, transforming and inspiring us, and improving business outcomes.
To learn more about gratitude programmes and best practices, and to witness, first hand, its power to improve company and team performance, book some time at BCI. You will be “grateful” that you did.