Career Advice, Watercooler

Three Ways To Give Thanks In The Workplace

If you want to change your world – through the mood in your workplace – start by saying thank you to a colleague.

Then appreciate another and thank a third after she finishes a task well. Add a few more sincere thanks- and you’re half way through the week and you’ve started a shift in thinking.

“It’s night and day” said Dan Zadra, author of five books on gratitude and founder of publisher Compendium Inc., which produces inspiring books, cards and materials sold in major retailers. Showing gratitude in the workplace can set off a chain reaction of politeness, caring for others, loyalty and a willingness to work harder and longer.

Yet people so often feel busy with work, or family needs, or the latest client request that they don’t take time to express their appreciation, Zadra said. Or they defer it to a better slower day that never comes.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it — is like getting a gift and not opening it,” he said.    His books, including “Gratitude,” sell well year after year, he said, partly because they are great gifts for coworkers and friends.

“People want to be recognized by the people they work closest with,” he said. Here’s three ways to  show appreciation and give thanks at work:

  1. Create an occasion for appreciation. Maybe it’s the holiday party – which could double as an employee appreciation event. Maybe it’s a midyear picnic and employee recognition or awards.  Or a monthly president’s lunch. Use the event to give a lot of awards and recognition – coveted ones and a few cute or creative notes like the best effort to keep the kitchen crumb free.
  2. Develop an appreciation ritual. Every other week at Compendium, a massage therapist comes in and gives each employee a 30-minute massage. Said Zadra: “It’s our way of reminding each other that we are worth it and we appreciate each other.”  At Newsday, where I worked for seven years, Friday morning bagels and cream cheese made us feel a little appreciated and more connected – as did staff lunches brought in after we completed a huge project.
  3. Make thanks a regular part of your week. Make thanks-giving as much a part of office life as staff meetings or expense reports. Set a reminder on your calendar so each Thursday you are prompted to thank three or four people. Or set a monthly goal of 10 notes of appreciation to clients and vendors. Stock up thank you notes and chocolate bars or small packets of jelly beans – with a sticky note that says Sweet Work, they are great little thank you.

After all, gratitude focuses on the good.  People want to believe their work is meaningful and valued – and those pats on the back help reinforce that.

“There is no such thing as an insignificant person, an insignificant task, an insignificant conversation,” said Zadra.  Show gratitude “in small and medium and large ways every day… It completely brings magic to an organization.”