Has it ever happened that you went out of your way to help a colleague at work? Or that a peer spent extra hours after work just to support you while you slog those deadlines? Or that someone from your team (or outside) came to your rescue right when you needed that extra helping hand?
You must have been privy to at least one of the above situations. But, how many times have you expressed gratitude or been expressed to?
Expressing gratitude is probably one of the most primitive values taught to us. And research has proven that gratitude makes us not only better human beings but better employees. It helps reduce stress, and improves wellbeing – it also makes us good team players and better communicators.
On 21st September every year, we celebrate World Gratitude Day. It means we categorically take one day to pause and show appreciation and gratefulness to others – people who have influenced our journeys and who continue to help us become better versions of ourselves professionally and personally.
The true meaning of Gratitude Day lies in recognizing the powerful and positive impact gratitude can have on our lives and the people we express gratitude to.
The World Gratitude Day 2022 theme remains what it is every year – to tap into the innate human nature of self-reflection and self-introspection and bring internal thankfulness to the surface to express gratitude overtly.
In our workplace, we all know, above everything, it just feels pretty damn good to be appreciated; to feel seen and heard by your peers. On this day, we do it for others.
In the workplace, it all starts with one simple word: Thanks.
The John Templeton Foundation conducted a poll with a sample size of 2,000 Americans. It came to the conclusion that people are less likely to feel or express thankfulness at work than they are everywhere else. And they’re not glad for their existing jobs, placing bottom last on their list of things to be thankful for.
According to the same poll, 93% of respondents believe that thankful managers are more likely to succeed. The majority of respondents said that hearing “thank you” at work made them feel happy and motivated.
Saying “thank you” may appear to be a mundane duty, but even as adults, we seldom use the term – at least not at the appropriate moment or as frequently as we should! How long does it take to express a brief thank you to someone, letting them know that you appreciate their efforts, that their assistance was seen, and that it had a beneficial influence on your output?
Doesn’t take much, right?
You can send a “thanks” almost in no time – through an email, a Whatsapp message, or in person. But just spelling the word out is not enough. You have to mean it. You have to tell them exactly why you are grateful.
A simple format or structure that you can follow while showing gratitude towards your colleague/ peer/ team member is:
1. Open the message with a line telling them that you are thankful, that you have been introspective over a holiday or weekend, or just in general, and wanted to thank them.
An expert in employee appreciation, Christopher Littlefield, says one way to open a message can be –
We have been so busy lately that I realized I haven’t taken the time to express my appreciation for all your great work.
2. Next, tell them what you appreciate.
Littlefield gives an example –
I know it took courage for you to give me honest feedback after my last presentation. I want you to know I really appreciate your doing that.
3. Finally, convey why exactly you are appreciating it. For example, in sync with Littlefield’s narrative, you can say something like –
Your feedback helped me improve. It made me more self-aware and rethink my ideas on the product.
As per Social psychologist Heidi Grant, there is an additional step.
4. Instead of just mentioning how you benefited from their actions, mention the quality that they bring to the table – this makes the person feel valued, respected, and simply put, good about themselves!
You have always been so articulate in expressing your views. Your feedback, hence, was also easy to adopt!
Gratitude is significantly and persistently connected with higher happiness in positive psychology research. Gratitude assists people in feeling more pleasant emotions, bettering their health, coping with challenges, and developing great connections.
With so many benefits, why shy away from celebrating world Gratitude day in the workplace? Here are a few ideas that can inspire you to express gratitude more beautifully!
Establishing gratitude groups (even if it is for a day) can not only be a fun activity, it is also great for building interpersonal relationships and fostering a positive work culture. The idea is simple: get all the employees together and spark a conversation on gratitude. Get them to discuss what gratitude means to them. Follow this by asking everyone in the room to write about something they are grateful for. You can also take this intervention as an opportunity to educate people on different ways one can express gratitude to their colleagues.
21st September seems like a good day to start a gratitude group, doesn’t it?
Let’s get a little old-school, shall we?
Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, investigated the impact of numerous positive psychology therapies on 411 people, each compared to a control assignment of writing about early recollections.
When their week’s assignment was to write and personally send a letter of thanks to someone who had never been adequately recognized for their generosity, participants’ happiness ratings skyrocketed. This intervention had a bigger impact than any other, with advantages lasting a month.
On World Gratitude Day, it seems like a good time to write a letter, doesn’t it?
You can even include some awesome gratitude day quotes to enhance your card! Pick any –
“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I feel a very unusual sensation—if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude.”
– Benjamin Disraeli
“The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.”
– Mary Davis
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
– William Arthur Ward
HRs can circulate blank cards around the office on which employees can express their gratitude and pass it on to their dear peers/ colleagues/ managers!
Perhaps the most common way to celebrate gratitude is by maintaining a gratitude journal. You can in fact even distribute the journals and ask employees to take out few minutes every day to work on them.
Keeping a journal to count things that we are grateful for can significantly improve self-control and increase self-esteem levels.
It all starts with one sentence: I’m grateful for….
While celebrating Gratitude day at work, you may ask yourself – why is practicing gratitude even important? Let us answer that for you –
Telling your colleague that you appreciate them boosts their readiness to help, most likely because they feel respected and valued.
There is research to back this up – research by Francesca Gino and Adam Grant, as mentioned in an HBR article. Gino and Grant conducted a series of analyses on this, including one in which volunteers who revised a student’s cover letter received either a neutral reply from the student confirming they’d received their feedback or a thankful email expressing thanks and gratitude. When the students asked the participants for help again, those who had been appreciated were twice as likely to answer yes as opposed to those who had not been thanked. To put it another way, when someone was not acknowledged, their odds of assisting again in the future were adjusted down.
Gratitude and the expression of gratitude contribute significantly to reducing workplace mistreatment.
Participants in the research were asked to keep a daily journal for two weeks and were distributed randomly to one of two groups: one was urged to write down the things (people, tasks, generic) that they were grateful for, while the other was directed to just record their days. The former group showed increased self-control and, as per coworkers, “subsequently engaged in less rudeness, gossip, and ostracism at work.”
Surprise, surprise – said no one reading this!
Research on gratitude in the workplace has come to show employees who feel appreciated have greater job satisfaction and are willing to put in longer hours. In fact, they also participate in constructive interactions with coworkers and supervisors, are inspired to do their best, and strive towards the company’s goals.
In their book Leading with Gratitude, authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton talk about the unparallel impact and benefits of gratitude in the workplace. An excerpt from the book reads –
“Workers want and need to know their work is appreciated. Showing gratitude to employees is the easiest, fastest, most inexpensive way to boost performance.”
According to 2012 research by the University of Kentucky, grateful people are more inclined to behave altruistically, even when others are not. Even when given unfavorable feedback, study participants who scored higher on gratitude ratings were less motivated to strike against others. They reported increased sensitivity and empathy toward others, as well as a decreased desire for vengeance.
For a workforce to deeply imbibe a sense of gratitude, leaders must take charge of cultivating a culture of thankfulness and gratefulness.
Here’s a real-life example: Douglas Conant, Campbell’s CEO, wrote over 30,000 handwritten thank you letters to his employees throughout his tenure. He thought the letters bolstered morale and efficiency.
Leaders can drive the change by altering little structural changes at work that point toward a workforce in which gratitude comes naturally. Leaders can start with gratitude affirmations at the beginning of a meeting if time permits. They can also make it a point to conduct gratitude check-ins at sporadic intervals.
– Karl Sun
Employee appreciation shouldn’t be a task reserved for World Gratitude Day – it should be a constant effort, a natural reflex to acts of kindness. In the workplace, gratitude should be a daily habit, and many ideas discussed above – gratitude journalling, practicing affirmations, gratitude groups, and handwritten cards – can be used more frequently. Because, the bottom line is: that gratitude is important – scientifically, psychologically, socially, but most importantly, as human emotion.
At Headsup Corporation, we are firm believers in tapping into the emotion of thankfulness and exercising it on a regular basis. And take our word for it – we are happier! If you too want to establish a culture of gratitude and employee appreciation and engagement, get in touch with us!
Happy Gratitude Day!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What day is National Gratitude Day?
21st September is celebrated as World Gratitude Day to recognize and appreciate the efforts made by other people in our life.
2. How do you celebrate world gratitude day at work?
You can celebrate gratitude day at work by getting all employees to form gratitude groups, exchange handwritten notes of thanks, spend some time engaging in gratitude journaling, and more.
3. How do you show gratitude in the workplace?
A simple thanks is a great way to show gratitude in the workplace. You can either say it in person, send an email, write a handwritten note, or simply send a message. An impeccable message of thanks can be structured using three steps:
4. Why is gratitude important in the workplace?
Gratitude and the expression of gratitude contribute significantly to reducing workplace mistreatment. Furthermore, it increases productivity, enhances mental well-being, and improves camaraderie in the workplace.
5. What is the meaning of Gratitude Day?
World Gratitude Day is a day to recognize the importance of giving gratitude to others. It allows us to reflect and acknowledge gratitude’s transforming capacity to invigorate individuals and create cultural shifts at work.