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Inspiring Gratitude in the Workplace

Posted on: November 18, 2019

By: Steve Isenberg


“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward, motivational speaker, and author

As autumn-toned leaves swirl about, the cooler, shorter days of fall turn our minds toward the season of thanksgiving; our thoughts shift toward the menu for Thanksgiving dinner. Then, the mental list of thankful-for-blessings composes during quiet moments, in anticipation of the annual time of sharing around the table.

While much has been written about the benefit of an “attitude of gratitude” that extends past the holiday season throughout the entire year, many of us fail to incorporate such a mindset into our everyday lives.

New York Times best-selling author Lewis Howes states that “Life is better if you develop an attitude of gratitude.” Howes writes extensively about cultivating a grateful mindset in his book, The School of Greatness“If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.”

Appreciation vs. Gratitude

While on the surface, these sentiments may appear to be the same, researchers note subtle yet impactful differences between the two.

  • Appreciation is the act of acknowledging the goodness in life by noting the positives we witness in the events, experiences, or people we encounter.
  • Gratitude goes a step further, as it recognizes how the positive things in our lives, such as successes at work, are often due to forces beyond ourselves, particularly involving the efforts of other people.

If you want to experience the maximum impact, allow gratitude to shift from an occasional practice to an attitude. “An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of your life, regularly, for both the big and small things alike,” says Andrew Merle, who writes about good habits for happiness, health, productivity, and success.

Gratitude in the Workplace

Often our efforts toward an attitude of gratitude focus on family, friends, health, and home. For some reason, it usually takes extra internal prodding to adopt a spirit of gratefulness while on the job and concerning work-related issues. “While being thankful for family, friends and everyday comforts seems easy, mustering up gratitude for one’s work and colleagues feels more challenging,” notes Leah Eichler. “It’s easier to apply a negative filter to the many tasks that need to get done in a day – the endless e-mails, the paperwork, and having to deal with disgruntled colleagues or customers.”

When we equate the workplace with stress and deadlines, conjuring up a thankful spirit can be difficult. If the pressure to perform and to excel leaves a person focused on the competition to achieve the next promotion, the time it takes to acknowledge and express gratitude can seem like wasted effort. To express reliance on others or to appear indebted could be skewed as weakness; some will undoubtedly fear.

“We tend to think of organizations as transactional places where you’re supposed to be ‘professional,’” says Ryan Fehr, an assistant professor of management at the University of Washington, Seattle. “We may think that it’s unprofessional to bring things like forgiveness or gratitude or compassion into the workplace.”

 Strategies to Cultivate Gratitude in the Workplace

Likely, efforts to create and nurture a culture of gratitude among your employees will not meet long-term opposition. Sure, expect a couple of “whatever” shrugs, maybe a pair or two of rolling eyes in the beginning. But the bottom line is, everyone wants to be appreciated. Words of gratitude for a job well done, a pat on the back for stepping up are expressions that leave a lasting impact. The giving and receiving of recognition and gratitude create the kind of environment that we all strive to find in an employment scenario.

Here are some simple yet profoundly impactful tips from Angela Gillespie for infusing gratitude into the workplace—

  • Be AuthenticSincerity is vital. If the expression of appreciation isn’t perceived as being honest and real, the gesture will fall flat.
  • Be Specific: Don’t just offer a generic “thank you for all your work.” Use concrete examples to describe what the person did and why you are grateful.
  • Be Consistent: Express thanks consistently – acknowledge the work and effort contributed to a goal – no matter how big or small. At the end of each day or week, think about those who have had a positive impact on you and take the time to thank them.

The key to any positive moves toward either developing or maintaining an attitude of gratitude within an organization lies in genuine, consistent examples from leadership. When company leaders and managerial staff model the above simple tips day in and day out, a ripple effect is sure to filter throughout the company.

At ASJ Partners, we are grateful for the trust and confidence the staffing industry places in our marketing services. We value every one of our clients and strive to deliver the best of our time, resources, and expertise to assist them in accomplishing their business goals. We extend our wishes to one and all for a happy season of Thanksgiving.


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