Today we are celebrating World Gratitude Day. This day was recognized in 1965, in Hawaii, when an international gathering decided it would be a good idea to have one day a year to formally express gratitude for the people and the things that make our lives better. The tradition caught on, and this day is now recognized in several countries around the world. We thought this the perfect opportunity to discuss how to be more grateful at work and how to better appreciate co-workers.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 65 percent of people say they don’t feel appreciated at work- a place where a lot of us spend a majority of our waking hours. Feeling under appreciated is the number one reason employees leave a job. In a work environment, it almost seems easier to say nothing than to say “thank you.” Also, overdoing the thank you can come across insincere; so why even bother? After all, we are all getting paid to do our job. That should be thanks enough, right?
The truth is, many of us come to work everyday for more than just a paycheck. We clock in for a sense of self-worth, a feeling of accomplishment, for some social interaction, and to set an example for our children – the list goes on. Money gets employees in the door, but feeling appreciated and worthwhile to the company is what keeps them there. Whether you’re an employee, a co-worker, a customer, a vendor, or even the boss, we all want to know we are appreciated.
Here are some ways to show your gratitude and appreciation for your employees or coworkers:
If your team member has successfully finished a big project, closed an important deal, is getting married, having a baby, being promoted, or something else exciting is happening, it serves as a great opportunity to show gratitude. Have employees contribute to a group gift, throw an office shower, or simply write a “congratulations” card and have everyone sign it. Celebrating employee’s life events shows you care about them as people, not just as people who work for you.
Do Something Unexpected
While a “thank you” should be for good reason, sometimes you should show your team you are grateful for them by doing something unexpected. On a hot summer day, have an ice cream truck come to your company parking lot for employees to enjoy (we do this at Digium, and it is truly always a big treat!!). Bring donuts or candy to a long group conference call. If an employee has been working extra hard on a project and is ahead on schedule, stop by her office at lunchtime and let her have the rest of the day off. If a coworker goes out of his way to help you with something, send him a thank you note or email. Unexpected signs of appreciation like these require a small amount of effort on your part, and have measurably beneficial effects around the workplace.
A few more ideas:
- Offer to help with a project
- Buy them lunch
- Invest in office indulgences
- Feature them in the company newsletter
- Take note of their big accomplishments and put a copy in their file
- Provide training opportunities
- Send them to a conference
- Stock the office fridge with goodies
- Give them a great review on their LinkedIn profile
Everyone appreciates a genuine “thank you.” On the same note, everyone can sense a disingenuous “thank you,” as well. Wait for a good reason to thank someone you work with. Always acknowledge good ideas, and always thank great actions. You can always send an email or write a note, but stopping by a coworker’s desk and thanking them face-to-face is a more impactful way to show gratitude.
Make sure to tell them what you are grateful for or appreciate. Gratitude encourages repeat performances, so be specific.
Make it Public
At the next department or company meeting, make a point to publicly acknowledge your gratitude for an employee or coworker. Briefly let everyone know what that person did for you or for the group, and why it meant a lot. The targeted person may feel slightly embarrassed, but they will know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed, and will appreciate the acknowledgment.
Show Gratitude For Your Customers As Well
Showing your gratitude can, and should, extend to your customers as well. Here are some ideas:
- Write a handwritten note expressing your gratitude for loyal customers
- Send a small branded souvenir (coffee mug, tee shirt, pens, etc.)
- Create or add them to your referral or loyalty program
- Spotlight them on your website
- Offer a surprise upgrade of some sort
- Create a customer appreciation day to recognize all your customers at once
- Host events for customers-only to attend
- Write a review of their company online
- Send an e-mail and let them know they are appreciated
There is a lot of research on how being grateful is linked to better health, happiness, career opportunities, social interactions, emotional intelligence, and many other benefits. Promoting a culture of gratitude in the workplace also serves as a way to increase employee loyalty, and even preserve moral during times of workplace stress, such as company layoffs, plummets in sales, or changes in management. It is a character trait that should be practiced often, just like communication or negotiation skills. Being grateful is something anyone can learn, from which everyone will benefit.