Thanksgiving day in the U.S. is right around the corner. It’s that time of year to kick off the holiday season and remind ourselves to take a moment to remember what we’re grateful for. We’re used to spreading gratitude and thanksgiving around to our family and friends, but it’s time to think about how crucial it is to bring that into the workplace. Taking the time to deliberately say “thanks” to your colleagues can make you a happier worker, improve the lives of your coworkers, and makes your office a better place to work.
How Gratitude Makes Us Better People
Most of us have experienced the power gratitude can have on our mood. Receiving praise on a job well done, someone thanking you for your extra effort, even something as simple as being thanked for holding a door can leave us feeling uplifted for the rest of the day. Being thanked can have real and measurable results.
Scientists Adam Grant and Francesca Gino conducted a study in 2010 to see how receiving gratitude can impact a person’s behavior.
In the study, the participants were asked to give feedback on a fictional person’s cover letter. After the first round of feedback had been given, participants received a reply asking for more feedback on a second cover letter. Half of the participants received a reply email with no gratitude, just asking for another round of feedback, while the second half got a reply email expressing gratitude for the first review. The results were remarkable.
While only 23% of the No Gratitude group provided feedback on the second cover letter, a whopping 66% of the Gratitude group sent more feedback after they were asked.
The day after the initial experiment was conducted, the group was again sent a request from an entirely different person who they’d never interacted with before. In this scenario, 25% of the No Gratitude group offered any help to the new person, while 55% of the original Gratitude Group offered to help, even though they had never met the person before.
Grant and Gino’s findings show the effects of receiving gratitude can linger well beyond the initial interaction. That speaks volumes about the power which gratitude can have on the workplace. By saying thanks to your coworkers, you’re creating a more collaborative, open and happier place to work.
No Love in the Workplace
A study released by the John Templeton Foundation surveyed 2000 American adults and found people are less likely to feel or express gratitude at work than anyplace else. Furthermore, participants said they were not thankful for their current jobs, ranking them dead last on a list of things they were most thankful for.
That could be because, on any given day, only 10 percent of people say thank you to their coworkers. One study suggested as much as 60% of people said they “either never express gratitude at work or do so perhaps once a year,” even though almost all respondents reported saying “thank you” to colleagues “makes me feel happier and more fulfilled.”
This is a vicious or virtuous cycle to have around the office. People saying thanks to one another creates a culture of gratitude among coworkers, which in turn creates happier workers. The same can just as easily happen in reverse, though.
In a study published last year, researchers found people with power tended to believe employees thanked them only to kiss-up to them, not out of an authentic feeling of gratitude. As a result of cynicism, managers were less likely to show gratitude to their subordinates. When managers fail to set the example to their teams, this kind of behavior has a nasty habit of spreading.
The Power of Saying “Thanks”
If you still need convincing saying thanks has profound and measurable impacts, let’s run through the facts. Evidence from a host of studies has shown people who practice gratitude consistently benefit from:
• Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More joy, optimism, and happiness
• Acting with more generosity and compassion
• Feeling less lonely and isolated
Gracious people are linked to being happier, healthier, being more present in the moment, more resistant to stress, and to having a higher sense of self-worth.
How You Can Be More Gracious in the Workplace
Taking the time to say thank you to your colleagues can have far-reaching benefits not only their health but to the bottom line of the company.
Studies have linked practicing gratitude to happier, healthier, harder working people. Grateful people have 10% fewer stress-related injuries, are more likely to be physically fit, and have blood pressure 12% lower than people who don’t practice gratitude.
The best thing about it? It’s totally free. Saying thank you doesn’t cost a penny. It is a real, tangible way to increase the happiness, health, and productivity of your workers. Making gratitude an initiative in your company can lead to increased profits, decreased expenses, all while tangibly creating a better place to work.
Here are a few tips which will help put you in the mindset to express and receive gratitude from your coworkers:
• Keep a Gratitude Journal: Keeping a simple journal of the thanks you give and receive can have profound effects on your health and well-being. A 2012 study showed that people who kept a gratitude journal for at least two weeks showed significantly increased happiness, greater satisfaction with life, and higher resilience to stress.
• Watch Your Language: Grateful people deliberately use words like gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance in their everyday life.
• Ask Yourself Three Questions: Use the meditation technique known as Naikan, which involves asking yourself three questions: “What have I received from __?”, “What have I given to __?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
• Remember the Bad Times: To be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember difficult times you experienced in your past. When you remember how difficult previous points of your life were and how far you have come since then, you set up an explicit contrast in your mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.
• Give Thank You Notes: Taking the time to write a thank you note and drop if off with a short message can make a person’s day. Keep stationary at your desk and pen a quick note whenever you want to give someone thanks.
As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, remember giving a little gratitude to your colleagues can go a long way. It can have a huge effect on their productivity, health and morale. By operating with gratefulness on your mind, you can create a happier and better place to work.