Use Your LMS to Create a Culture of Gratitude
Jason Bacaj | 5 min read
Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season with a day set aside for reflecting on what we’re grateful for—family, friends, food, and the general blessings of life.
Turning your focus toward gratitude is a healthy choice. Some have credited gratitude as the “social glue” that serves as the backbone of human society. Which seems like a good thing to turn to during this trying year. A study by Qualtrics and SAP this spring found two-thirds of people were more stressed and more than half felt emotionally exhausted.
Practicing gratitude won’t bring the pandemic to an end by itself. But it can make both you and your team more resilient. Grittier, more able to meet challenges and opportunities with agility and creativity.
Dr. Robert Emmons, psychology professor at University of California, Davis, and the nation’s preeminent scholar of gratitude, says practicing it can yield a cascade of benefits across physical, psychological, and social levels. Benefits like a stronger immune system, greater alertness and joy, and less feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Does gratitude really do all that? And just as importantly: how can you cultivate gratitude among your team?
Gratitude Makes Better Organizations
Most of us have experienced the power that gratitude can have on our mood. Even something as simple as being thanked for holding a door can leave us feeling uplifted for the day. Being thanked can have real and measurable results.
Organizational psychologists 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 first to give feedback on a fictional person’s cover letter. After the initial 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 resultant differences were remarkable.
A mere 23% of the No Gratitude group offered feedback on the second cover letter, while a whopping 66% of the Gratitude group sent additional feedback after they were asked.
The day after the initial experiment was conducted, the group received a request from an entirely different person with whom they’d never interacted. In this scenario, only 25% of the No Gratitude group offered any help to this 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 that the effects of gratitude can linger well beyond the initial interaction.
Consider the impact that can have organization-wide. If people are willing to go the extra mile for one another, it creates a virtuous cycle. A more pleasant, productive work environment. One with psychological safety, where people feel empowered to take novel approaches to challenges.
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 as much as 12% lower than those who don’t practice gratitude.
The best thing about it? It’s totally free. A genuine ‘thank you’ doesn’t cost a penny. It’s 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.
Cycles can either be vicious or virtuous around the office. While saying thanks can make gratitude contagious among coworkers, the same can happen in reverse.
In a study published in 2012, researchers found that 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 this cynicism, managers were less likely to show gratitude to their subordinates. When managers fail to set an example for their teams, this kind of behavior has a nasty habit of spreading.
Cultivating Gratitude in the Workplace
Taking the time to say thank you to your colleagues can have benefits that reach beyond health — gratitude can have a noticeable effect on the company’s bottom line.
A learning management system (LMS) is a key tool for promoting gratitude at work. An LMS allows for peer-to-peer recognition, professional development, and allows the organization to establish norms around acknowledging individual contributions to strategic projects.
- Peer-to-peer recognition: Social features in an LMS empower your people to give shout-outs that are visible company-wide. Users can upload images or videos showing off the fruits of their coworkers efforts. Or they can write a more personalized comment on their coworker’s profile.
- Professional development: Genuine gratitude requires appreciating people on a human level. That means seeing them as more than just a role within the corporate hierarchy. Maybe taking note when a frontline worker shows a flair for graphic design or client experience rep gains coding chops while managing an account. Opening up new paths on a learning platform is a tangible way to show your people that you see the good work they’re doing.
- Create norms of recognition: An LMS offers a prime chance for people to revel in and enjoy successful projects. The platform gives you multiple opportunities to give credit where credit’s due. Instead of leaving a gift card on an employee’s desk for a work anniversary, you can write a detailed note acknowledging the milestone. And everyone from the C-suite to the frontline workers can join in the celebration.
As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, remember that 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.
BY JASON BACAJ
Jason is a content creator with Wisetail. Through research and interviews, he works to help L&D pros grow the breadth of their knowledge. He’s a recovering journalist fascinated with learning.