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The Case for Gratitude at work 

 November 3, 2023   By Living As A Leader

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Making Employees Feel Valued

The Case for Gratitude at Work

The simple act of saying thank you at work does not come naturally to all leaders.

When someone is put in a leadership position, the focus is often on developing processes, outcomes, and goals. But in that focus, the human element of appreciation can get lost.

In fact, a reminder to express gratitude for colleagues is something that often needs to be learned or reminded to leaders.

Even in the toughest of circumstances, leaders can find the positives if they are present and paying attention. Over time, employees will welcome the attention of their leaders – instead of creating anxiety – if it comes with thankfulness about the work they are doing.

As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, here is the case for why leaders should embrace gratitude.

Gratitude improves productivity

In one group of leaders we worked with, within weeks of starting this practice, they began to see a big difference in their employees: less complaining, more working, and more smiling. One shared, “An employee recently told me that the only time he ever hears from me, or anyone is if he’s done something wrong. He told me that no one ever tells him when he is doing something right. So, I’ve made it a point to acknowledge the positive things I see. He really appreciates it and feels better about coming to work.”


Positivity leads to less turnover

Leaders may have the opinion, “Why would I thank people for coming in to work? That is what they get paid to do.” Others are thinking, “Listen, right now our biggest challenge is retaining our workforce. If showing appreciation for the small things will make a difference, why wouldn’t I show that appreciation?” Employees are starved for appreciation and gratitude.

Better climates mean better results

This is not just about generating feel-good emotions, though that outcome is certainly the focus. It’s also about results. Up to 30 percent of a company’s financial results are determined by the climate of the organization, according to Emotional Intelligence expert and author Daniel Goleman. Goleman also concluded that up to 70 percent of an employee’s perception of the organization’s climate is attributable to the actions and behaviors of his or her direct leader. The leader creates the environment that determines the mood of followers and their level of engagement and productivity. The leaders model the behavior and the rest of the organization follows suit.

Finding specific reasons to be thankful for colleagues takes time and intentionality, but the returns in both culture and productivity is more than worth it. It all starts with treating employees like they’re human – and that’s something that should be done year round. Happy Thanksgiving!



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