3 Ways to Express Gratitude in Your Workplace

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Gratitude is often brought into the mainstream during the holiday season, but perhaps the biggest blind spot on this topic is just how important it is in the workplace. Being grateful is an often-overlooked part of leadership, yet one that team members crave for satisfaction and retention.

Gratitude has the potential to create a better employee experience, make the workplace more human, strengthen relationships, and build resilience.

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Knowing the importance of gratitude, it is the CEO’s role to create such a culture and express appreciation to everyone from entry-level employees to franchisees to C-suite peers.

While many agree with this approach, leaders struggle with where to start. This is truly a cultural shift and it takes commitment to implement. Below are three tried-and-true best practices to help leaders on their journey to express gratitude in the workplace.

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1. Create understanding.

Everyone is built differently and requires different types of praise and acknowledgement. Put your employees to work learning and doing what they appreciate.

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While some people enjoy public praise or gifts, others may prefer private acknowledgment and reassurance that the work they are doing is beneficial not only to the company but to their overall development.

Leaders must take the time to get to know the people who support the business. It is a relationship. You want to know where they’re coming from, where they want to go, and what might help or hinder them as they work toward their desired position. When you do this, the result is a relationship based on authenticity and trust; This is not a transaction. Meet people where they are, care for them and provide an environment where they can express themselves.

Creating an understanding of your employee’s priorities is an important first step before introducing gratitude practices that assume everyone wants the same things.

2. Be engaged in the work of service.

Once you figure out what your employees appreciate and how they engage emotionally, the sky’s the limit. Don’t wait for something big to happen before you start showing gratitude. Incorporate the exercise into everyday tasks and leave room for employee feedback.

Simple ways to incorporate gratitude into the workday may seem like creating a thank you note after an employee completes a task or admits a mistake. You can even make room for it at the beginning of meetings to set the tone and reduce tension. Other acts include small gifts, mental health breaks, and positive reinforcement on your company’s communications server.

For example, I’ve tried to display gratitude in a variety of ways at Celebri, from small gestures like handwritten cards to out-of-office visits, and even tickets to sporting events. Don’t hesitate to execute. There will of course be some trial and error before finding one that resonates – just be sure to monitor feedback, impact, and be open to feedback.

3. Aim for quality, not quantity.

Forcing people to be grateful doesn’t work and can make the expression seem inauthentic. Try to create a time and place that fosters the voluntary, spontaneous expression of gratitude.

You can do this by being authentic and present. When you’re specific about the benefits of a person, action, or thing, it increases your appreciation of yourself—and it tells a person that you’re paying attention, and not just going through the motions.

Be vulnerable and act in the moment. As the leader, model the way you are. By engaging in diverse and impactful acts of service, you are naturally creating a culture that welcomes and encourages the expression of gratitude.

At the end of the day, expressing gratitude costs nothing and only requires commitment to do so. When a leader makes honest and consistent expressions of appreciation a priority, they are creating a strong culture of gratitude in the workplace. In turn, you’ll see a direct impact on your bottom line, because your people know you care, they matter, and the work they’re doing is making a real impact.

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