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Undeniable: The Positive Power of Workplace Gratitude

Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their loyalty or a job well done? Who doesn’t want a metaphorical pat on the back for going above-and-beyond? Everyone values a genuine thank you! But engagement and appreciation efforts workplace gratitude should be sincere and consistent across an organization.

Building a workplace culture of gratitude is especially relevant now because of what we are seeing as a result of the pandemic. We are witnessing increased worker stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression; concern about the future and the pressure of juggling family and work commitments.

The impact is undeniable. In fact, new SHRM research found between 1/4 and 1/3 of U.S. employees often experience symptoms of depression as they live through the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers are in a unique position to help employees battle the negative effects of this “new world” through sincere gestures of kindness and also through demonstration of appreciation.

How to Embrace Workplace Gratitude During the Pandemic

Personal engagement is always critical, but especially now. If you can, pick up the phone and check in on employees. Don’t overlook the basics at this time, because people need to know they are valued and not alone.

Celebrate your remote workers! Because workplaces aren’t the same anymore, it takes some creativity and organization to translate your culture into virtual events. We’ve seen teams have a great time engaging online with coffee, pizza and ice cream parties. With Halloween around the corner, we have many suggestions for how to deliver fun for all! Help managers with ideas and helpful hints for how to handle invites, contests, virtual games and conversation starters for enjoyable virtual social events.

Another idea is to empower employees to support their local communities. Community giving instills gratitude in anyone who partakes. If service work is important to your workplace culture, then find ways to enable employees to participate virtually. They’ll love the opportunity as we all see the increasing needs of those around us.

Whatever you choose, be sure to be kind and authentic. And if you can – be unexpected!

Holiday Appreciation

We highly recommend a thoughtful letter of appreciation to employees about their role and their importance during these challenging times. Sometimes that’s all you can afford to do and that’s okay. On our website, gThankYou.com, we have some excellent examples of Thanksgiving letters for inspiration.

This year, stick to holiday traditions if they are held near and dear. We love fresh ideas, but employees will have gift-related expectations from previous years. Whatever you choose to do, be authentic to your culture and considerate of your budget.

Practical gifts are key.

Family gifts (games, puzzles), wellbeing resources (yoga on-demand, health resources) and food on the table are all truly valued and appreciated…especially when things are financially tight or unstable in any way. And let’s face it, sometimes cash is the very best answer. Most importantly, plan now – be early. Between COVID and the election there are too many distractions, and this is not the year to forget to thank employees.

The Science Behind Gratitude

Over the last 20 years, research has shown gratitude to provide important physical, psychological and social benefits, including:

  • A stronger immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Willingness to exercise more
  • Higher levels of positive emotions such as joy and happiness
  • And, more helpful, generous and compassionate behavior

And research has shown countless ways gratitude directly pays off in the workplace with:

  • Improved employee wellbeing, productivity and job satisfaction
  • Resulting in demonstrated improved ROI due to:
  • higher employee retention,
  • improved employee performance and happiness, and
  • better employee, team and customer relationships

Professor Robert A. Emmons, a foremost gratitude researcher, calls gratitude the “ultimate performance-enhancing substance.” Gratitude makes both the giver and receiver feel good. In addition, gratitude sets off a good kind of contagion.

Want to learn more about the science of gratitude and how to create a culture of gratitude? I highly recommend our free ebook, “Transforming Your Workplace with Gratitude.”

A Culture of Gratitude

At gThankYou, we believe in making gratitude a pillar of the business. We’ve learned: To build and foster a culture of gratitude where leaders thank employees, team members show appreciation for each other, and thoughtful gestures are common, authenticity is key. Regular messages and example-setting need to be from the top down. Leadership needs to encourage, model gratitude. They also must hold managers accountable for showing gratitude to their teams.

Here are some tips to consider as you frame what a “Gratitude Culture” looks like in your business:

  • Gratitude must be part of the fabric of the workplace culture.
  • Senior leadership needs to model gratitude and mid-managers need to be trained and held accountable for appreciating their teams.
  • Simple gestures are great – but fairness and consistency are key.
  • Remember, gratitude needs to be specific to feel authentic.
  • Employees need easy ways to show appreciation to each other and their input in the “how” should be requested (and also respected) to make it work.
  • You can’t simply say, “thank you” at year-end and be done. 

Future of Work

Remote work will continue to be the norm until there is widespread availability of a vaccine and cheap, quick COVID testing. Some companies, like Pinterest, have already indicated that remote work will become permanent and thus will have a wide variety of implications – in areas such as hiring.

With some effort and planning, we will all get better at remote and virtual employee engagement and recognition. While it’s not easy these days to extend an in-person smile or handshake or share a heartfelt say thank you in the office, pick up the phone and write handwritten notes.

Bring the old school into the new world. Your sincere interest, concern, appreciation, and gratitude work – I promise!

 

Listen to our interview with Meghan M. Biro on TalentCulture’s #Worktrends podcast!

 

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The Power of Grateful Workplaces and Engaged Employees

What sets grateful workplaces apart from others? What impact do those environments have on employee engagement?

Especially now — while most of us are still working remotely — leaders need to ask themselves a question: Why are happy and engaged employees worth their weight in gold?

And then they need to go discover more gold.

If you’re a business owner, look around your company. If you’re in a leadership role within a corporation, look around your department. Are you using a critical eye to evaluate what’s going on behind the scenes with your employees? Know what is happening when they are not on a Zoom call? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to use your relationship skills and develop deeper, meaningful conversations. The kind of discussions that matter to them. And, ultimately, to the organization.

The Value of Appreciation

It’s amazing to see how showing appreciation and expressing gratitude affects people. With just two little words like “thank you” and “well done” we can make a real difference. In a report conducted by TINYpulse, 30,000 people were queried to uncover what makes for an engaged, happy workplace. The findings revealed that 70 percent of people rated their workplace as fun due to the appreciation and subsequent recognition. Yes, the validation received from leadership and peers made the work fun. Perks such as ping pong tables and free beer Fridays? Not so much.

Showing gratitude gives employees the support and recognition they want. It provides the encouragement to go above and beyond. In essence, appreciation and gratitude inspire people. Validation motivates them to be engaged and interested.

They Tell One Person, Who Tells Two People…

Even when times are good, developing a cadre of brand ambassadors is a great idea for any company. This is especially true for companies looking to extend their brand externally and reinforce it internally. Now, in times of turmoil, helping employees feel appreciated and included greatly increases the likelihood they’ll get involved. It also inspires them to more often go beyond the call of duty. Employees who feel valued also show a greater aptitude for collaboration. They are far more likely to spread the word of their great feelings about the organization. And they’re more likely to feel the work they do directly contributes to positive outcomes. 

It’s important to have positive communications like these run up, down, and sideways along the chain. This practice helps reinforce a workplace where open communications are part of the culture and practiced by everyone — even when we’re not all sitting in the same building.

And Then There’s the Downside

When employees do not feel appreciated nor included, feelings of disinterest in their employer may develop. Depending on the level and length of disengagement, the lack of appreciation often leads them to speak publicly in negative tones. That negativity, regrettably, easily spreads to any customers with whom disengaged employees may come into contact. These negative interactions can directly affect customer purchases, retention, and recommendations on company review sites such as Glassdoor.

Further, brands always need to be mindful of the speed at which information, especially bad news, travels. When an employee is frustrated enough to vent online, social media is not an employer’s best friend.

Grateful Workplaces: It’s Good Business

Organizations that promote cultures of positivity, camaraderie, collaboration, feedback, and good communications prosper. In fact, research by Gallup identified the nine business metrics most affected by high employee engagement. The top three factors that advance an organization’s brand image and fiscal health: Customer ratings, productivity and profitability.

On the less-positive side, a study published in the Harvard Business Review details a Gallup Poll survey that show disengaged workers had:

  • 37 percent higher absenteeism
  • 49 percent more accidents
  • 60 percent more errors and defects

These data points are strong indicators of disengaged employees. Even worse, perhaps: Unmotivated employees who don’t find satisfaction in their work. Nor do they have a positive outlook of their company. In a research project conducted by doctors at the University of California and University of Florida, participants who focused on the positive aspects of their life were tested against a comparison group who focused on feelings of irritation and dissatisfaction. As makes sense, the test group considered more positive were much happier, optimistic and more likely to demonstrate healthier habits. These feelings are not exclusive to one’s time away from work. In fact, they spill over into people’s work lives every day, affecting productivity and results.

With so many people working away from the office, organizations must give their employees reasons to be brand ambassadors. Perhaps even more important in today’s workplace? They must deliberate create grateful workplaces. Which means serving as positive role models by demonstrating appreciation and a high level of engagement themselves. 

 Want highly engaged employees? Harness the power of gratitude.

 

A version of this post originally appeared on HR Exchange Network.

 

Cottonbro

#WorkTrends: The Power of Workplace Gratitude with Liz King

How do we best show workplace gratitude? How do we help employees and coworkers feel valued and appreciated?

There’s no doubt: In 2020, the world seems pretty serious. All around me here in Oregon, and up and down the west coast, we’re dealing with unprecedented firestorms. A series of tropical storms seems ready to hit the southeastern US. And we’re all still grappling with a pandemic that has dramatically changed the workplace. With all this going on, many of us seek solace. We covet a moment of relaxation. And for the many of us working solo at home, we crave human connection.

You don’t want to miss a single episode of #WorkTrends… subscribe to the podcast now!

So there’s no better time to be deliberately human. To reach out to a friend to say hello. Or, perhaps to make an employee or coworker smile by just saying thank you. But how do we show gratitude in a meaningful way while we’re socially distancing?

Liz King on Workplace Gratitude

To answer that question, and because I truly believe sharing gratitude with employees and peers may be the special sauce of workplace culture and engagement, I asked Liz King, CMO of gThankYou, to join me on this week’s #WorkTrends podcast. We talked about the real science behind gratitude, and how it can transform any workplace — whether co-located, remote, or both. Of course, the holidays are coming. So we also took a look at great ideas on how to use gratitude to make everyone smile, even if we can’t be together.

In the first few moments with Liz, I confirmed how important it is to create a culture of workplace gratitude. “Because of what we’re seeing as a result of the pandemic — increased worker stress, loneliness, anxiety, the pressure of juggling family and work commitments — it is so important employers are there to help employees take on these new world challenges through sincere gestures of kindness and appreciation,” Liz said. She emphasized that while one-time expressions of gratitude are meaningful, consistency is important. “Building a culture of gratitude needs to come from the top down. Ultimately, it must be part of the fabric of a workplace culture. You just can’t say a one and done thank you and think you’ve done enough.”

Appreciation is Personal

When talking about that human connection, Liz shared another great piece of advice: “We are so short on personal engagement right now. If you can, pick up the phone. Check in on your employees. People need to know they’re valued and not alone.” Liz smartly added: “Don’t forget a heartfelt, personal thank you note always makes somebody’s day.”

Since Liz and gThankYou are experts at showing gratitude to employees and coworkers, I couldn’t let Liz get away without about the best way to show sincere gratitude nowand for the upcoming holidays: “To help show appreciation year-round, we have a day-to-day employee celebration calendar full of actionable appreciation and engagement ideas. Of course, we started our business in 2007 based on the tradition of giving a turkey to employees for Thanksgiving. We then started creating certificates of gratitude for practical employee and customer food gifts. Not just a Thanksgiving turkey, but a Christmas ham and  fruit and vegetables, ice cream, and groceries anytime.”

Walking the Thankful Talk

During our conversation, it became clear Liz, her husband Rick, and their entire team walk the thankful talk: “We are incredibly grateful to work with companies who care about appreciating employees. It is such a joy to get them on the phone! They’re excited to order again, every year. And they talk about why showing gratitude is so important to them — just as it is to us.”

I’m grateful gThankYou sponsored this meaningful episode of #WorkTrends℠. I really appreciate their simple, flexible approach to helping brands show they care about their employees. I can’t thank them enough.

Be sure to listen in… then go say thank you to someone making a difference in your life!

And please join us on Wednesday, September 23rd at 1:30pm ET with a special Twitter chat featuring Liz King. Here are the questions we’ll be asking:

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with expressing gratitude? #WorkTrends

Q2: What strategies can promote a culture of gratitude? #WorkTrends

Q3: How can leaders show gratitude over the holidays?  #WorkTrends

 

Find Liz on Linkedin and Twitter. Also check out gThankYou on LinkedIn.

 

Editor’s note: #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats are changing to better meet your needs! For details, check the new FAQ page. And to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.