According to organizational culture experts and authors of the best-selling book Leading with Gratitude, Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick, “showing gratitude to employees is the easiest, fastest, most inexpensive way to boost performance.”

In fact, when employees receive appreciation and feel grateful in the workplace, they are more likely to have higher productivity, better communication with their colleagues, less stress, and increased well-being. Beyond the direct workplace benefits, grateful people also tend to exercise more, sleep better and longer, feel less isolated, and even get a boost to their immune system to help in recovering from traumatic life events.

Yet, even with all these potential benefits, we don’t always know exactly how to bring a sense of gratitude to our workplace, beyond just the occasional “thank you”. Elton and Gostick describe this as the “gratitude gap” which happens when we don’t express gratitude as much as we should, diminishing the powerful effect it has on others —both for the giver and the receiver.

So, what can we all do to foster a culture of greater gratitude in our workplaces?

Authors of the recently published book, The Gratitude Project: How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good recommend these top 5 tips:

1. Start at the top. Employees need to hear “thank you” from the boss first. It’s also helpful to understand how those around you prefer to receive gratitude. Do they like gifts or thank you notes? Do they prefer to be thanked in public or in private? Understanding those preferences can ensure that we are showing gratitude in ways that are most meaningful for those receiving it.

2. Thank the people who never (or very rarely) get thanked. Some employees are naturally more visible than others and receive appreciation more often or more readily than others. So, start thinking about who in your organization doesn’t receive enough kudos or whose contributions are less visible on a day-to-day basis. Make sure to show these individuals gratitude and appreciation for what they bring to your workplace as well.

3. Aim for quality, not quantity. We can’t mandate that people show gratitude at work but, the goal should be to “create qualitative, spontaneous and voluntary expressions of gratitude” whenever possible. Gratitude is most impactful when the receiver feels it is authentic and it is tied to the specific way they like to be shown appreciation. So, take the time to include details in your acts of gratitude as much as possible.

4. Provide many opportunities for gratitude. The more formal and informal opportunities there are to show gratitude, the more it will start to become part of your organization’s overall culture. Try starting a “Gratitude Wall” in the office, or a virtual version, where employees can post notes of thanks and other accolades for one another that are visible to the whole organization. You could also offer regular time and space in meetings for employees to give shout-outs to recognize one another and special achievements. Something as simple as keeping a stack of blank thank-you notes in your desk drawer or saving an electronic thank-you card template in a desktop folder make it easy to send a grateful message any time you want. Any way you can make showing gratitude more of the norm will go a long way to embedding a gratitude mindset for everyone in your organization.

5. In the wake of a crisis, take time for thanksgiving. In times of transition, uncertainty, and change, (which the last two years have certainly been!) “cultivating gratitude and making it a policy and a practice make people more resilient to stress.” In fact, in those circumstances, it is crucial to focus on gratitude to help everyone see beyond the immediate challenges and vision a better future.

Other ideas you might want to try include:

  • Setting a regular reminder on your phone or calendar to reach out and personally thank someone for something they’ve done
  • Offering words of thanks and appreciation at unexpected times
  • Gifting a gratitude journal to your employees, teams, or special project partners
  • Send a handwritten card of thanks rather than an email
  • Post a note of thanks to someone in your company newsletter or other communications
  • Start your next meeting with an icebreaker question such as, “What’s the thing you are most thankful for this week?” or “What’s the best thing that has happened to you since we last spoke?”
  • Take turns in meetings giving thanks to one person, in particular, for their contributions to the week, the month, or a recent project

From our families to yours, all of us at ADR Vantage wish you a warm season of gratitude with your family and friends and we thank you for staying connected with us. We also recognize the complicated history of the Thanksgiving holiday and the atrocities committed against Indigenous Peoples and their lands. We encourage all non-Native people to educate themselves and their families on the real history of the holiday.