Top 10 Ways to Show Gratitude in the Office This Week (and Why It’s Important)

Make it an agenda item this week: take stock of your workplace gratitude – and not just because Thanksgiving is around the corner. Late November tends to trigger talk of giving thanks, but it’s also the time of year we’re thinking about shoring up our immune system for the season ahead.

The same way we actively boost our immunity to ward off colds and flu, we need to actively boost our resistance to employee turnover. Attrition comes on strong this time of year, so now is the time to make sure employees feel appreciated, valued, recognized and thanked. Making a concerted effort to ensure that employees know they’re appreciated is like getting a flu shot: it boosts employee engagement during a period of time when employees are susceptible to disengagement.

Factors that erode employee satisfaction in fall and winter:

  • Added workload with colleague vacation and travel
  • Compressed deadlines due to holidays
  • End-of-quarter / end-of-fiscal-year crunch
  • End-of-year reflection / New Year resolutions to make changes

Gratitude can help mitigate the negative effect of every one of these factors. Defined as the quality of being thankful, gratitude is a general readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. And it’s important to work hard to deliberately build this value in the workplace. After all, people want to believe their work is meaningful and valued – and a culture that fosters gratitude paves the way for feeling that way.

The importance of gratitude in the workplace

Professor Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher and professor of psychology at UC Davis, believes that a focus on fostering appreciation is key to developing positive workplace cultures.

“Most of our waking hours are spent on the job, and gratitude, in all its forms, is a basic human requirement,” Emmons told Stephanie Vozza in Fast Company. “Gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance at work.”

Express gratitude to strengthen teams

When employees feel heard, valued and trusted, the return on investment for your organization is astounding: team members stay passionate about their work, they mirror the company’s mission and goals, and they work at a higher level of excellence.

And when they’re emotionally invested in their work, they’re less likely to leave their job – and they’re more likely to move the needle on your organization’s bottom line.

Express gratitude to boost retention

Employees who feel valued tend to have a high level of loyalty, which goes hand in hand with high retention – a major cost savings. Research shows that more than one-quarter of employees are in a high-retention-risk category, and many are top performers or high potentials and possess critical skills.(1)

Appreciation is a much better motivator than money. A study by Glassdoor found that 80% of employees would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss, and 70% said they’d feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss thanked them more regularly.

There are four significant factors that contribute to whether an employee stays or leaves.

Express gratitude to strengthen company culture

Feeling recognized is not all about getting a salary increase. Taking the time to personally thank employees for a job well done may be the most cost-effective way to boost employee motivation and productivity, which can have direct impact on your company’s bottom line.

6 ways to recognize employees:

  • Leave a personal, handwritten note on their desk
  • Post a compliment on a public, in-office brag board
  • Treat your team to lunch
  • Give out gift certificates to restaurants, spas or local entertainment
  • Say thank-you during a team meeting
  • Offer priority parking for a month

(You can find step-by-step instructions for implementing employee engagement activities like these in Glassdoor’s Complete Guide to Employee Engagement Activities.)

The Thanksgiving holiday is a great reminder to take stock of the importance of gratitude – both giving and receiving it – in our lives. Take advantage of this seasonal theme to give the topic the attention it deserves, and be sure to carry what you learn with you throughout the year. Your teams – including people above and below you in the organization – will thank you. And that alone is something to be grateful for.

(1) Source: Willis Tower Watson, Seven Things to Know About Employee Retention Risks, June 2015