The Power Of Gratitude In The Workplace

The Power Of Gratitude In The Workplace

One of the first things that came to mind when I was thinking about implementing our “Wall Of Kindness” during the holidays at our work place was this article I read on Huffington Post that states: “expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Being grateful also impacts the overall experience of happiness, and these effects tend to be long-lasting”. Who or what workplace couldn’t use more of that?

Here are some interesting statistics from a survey conducted by Greater Good:
-93% of people agree that grateful bosses are more likely to succeed
-18% of workers think gratitude make bosses seem weak
-60% of respondents said they “either never express gratitude at work or do so perhaps once a year”
-35% of respondents believed that expressing any gratitude could lead coworkers to take advantage of them

Here are some of the key points:

Benefits of Gratitude
-Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being

• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.

-Greater optimism and happiness
-Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crises
-Increased self-esteem
-Heightened energy levels
-Strengthened heart, immune system, and decreased blood pressure
-Improved emotional and academic intelligence
-Expanded capacity for forgiveness
-Decreased stress, anxiety, depression, and headaches
-Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
-Heightened spirituality — ability to see something bigger than ourselves
-From UCDavis: “grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress.”
-According to this People who express gratitude are more extroverted, agreeable, open, conscientious, and less neurotic
-Higher levels of gratitude were associated with better sleep, and with lower anxiety and depression, according to this study
-Significant increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy
-According to this researchers surveyed 1,035 high-school students and found that the most grateful had more friends and higher GPAs (and let’s face it…Retail can be a little high-school-ish at times)
-Gratitude is used as a “moral motive” – because it encourages pro-social behavior
-Employees who had been empowered to give recognition were more than twice as engaged, according to Globoforce

According to Greater Good here are “Five Ways To Cultivate Gratitude At Work”:
(1) It starts at the top
There should be no surprise that the executives set the tone for the rest of the company. If the executive leaders are genuine and articulate/show appreciation it will become a cultural norm.

(2) Thank the people that never get thanked
Everyone in a retail organization should be thanked for their contribution to the business – whatever that may be.

(3) Quality over quantity
Give opportunity to create “voluntary, spontaneous expressions of gratitude”. It is unwise to force gratitude, it must be organic and sincere to the culture. It will absolutely lose impact if it becomes commonplace or expected.

(4) Provide many opportunities for gratitude
Whether you have a recognition platform that you use or you have a place in your buildings where you can recognize and thank your peers you need to allow for a variety of ways to express “thanks”. “You can say “thanks” by taking on extra work, lending a parking space, or giving a day off. These kinds of non-monetary gifts can lead to more trust in working relationships, if it’s reciprocal, sincere, and altruistically motivated.”

(5) In the wake of crisis, take time for thanksgiving
“Gratitude helps employees to see beyond one disaster and recognize their gains. Ideally, it gives them a tool ‘to transform an obstacle into an opportunity,’ If your office has gone through a crisis, hold a meeting with the aim of gaining a new perspective on the incident. Emmons proposes a series of questions to help people recover from difficult experiences, which I’ve adapted for the workplace:
(a) What lessons did the experience teach us?
(b) Can we find ways to be thankful for what happened to us now, even though we were not at the time it happened?
(c) What ability did the experience draw out of us that surprised us?
(d) Are there ways we have become a better workplace because of it?
(e) Has the experience removed an obstacle that previously prevented us from feeling grateful?”

Aside from all of these benefits of expressing gratitude and fostering a culture of gratitude – it boils down to being a supportive coworker and strong retail leader. Every day most people do something that is worthy of a sincere thank you. As you can see in the statistics of topic – recognition and appreciation for help and support is severely underused but extremely valued and valuable inside the business to morale, engagement, happiness, and productivity.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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