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11.21.18

How to Bring Gratitude into the Workplace

Stacey Engle

‘Tis the season of gratitude -- for friends, for family, and for delicious turkey dinners. But what about gratitude in the workplace?

November and December are notorious times for organizations to express gratitude to their employees -- holiday parties, annual bonuses and accolades they save up for this time of year. And while these gestures are appreciated, the truth is gratitude should be practiced all year round. By focusing on giving thanks just one time a year, these overtures become less authentic, and thus less meaningful.

For leaders, practicing gratitude at work is an incredibly valuable tool, and one that shouldn’t be saved for a single season. Here are a few suggestions you can implement today and use all year long, from the most personal, to the most public:
  • Start a gratitude journal: Not all gratitude needs to be expressed outwardly, and recognizing personally what you are grateful for can be very powerful. You may want a journal that encompasses all aspects of your life, or one just for the office. Perhaps every Monday morning you take 10 minutes to write down what work-related people and things you are grateful for. Over time, you can look back and reflect in a meaningful way.

  • Write Thank You notes. Sure, it’s a little old school when we are used to email and texting, but therein lies the magic. There is something powerful about taking the time to thank someone with a physical note - be it your boss, the intern or even the security guard in your building.

  • Incorporate gratitude into you conversations. During 1:1 meetings with both your boss and your direct reports, making a habit of highlighting something you appreciate about them. These conversations can have a lasting impact, and will serve to strengthen the relationship. Showing appreciation on a regular basis in many cases also makes conversations around areas of improvement easier, as you have built a stronger foundation with the other person.

  • Make time during meetings for shout outs. Public displays of gratitude can mean a lot to your employees. Make it an ongoing bullet point on the agenda, to call out a person or a team that is doing a great job, and be as specific as you can. Knowing the boss not only appreciates your work, but knows exactly what you are doing can be a big boost to an employees confidence at work.

  • Consider an Employee of The Week/Month/Quarter Award: This doesn’t need to be overly formal, but the idea of highlighting someone on a regular basis, either through a newsletter or a larger company meeting is a nice one. Not only does a stellar employee acknowledged, but in deciding who to highlight, you get to see some of the great work being done across the organization.


We all benefit when we take a minute to step back and recognize the good people and things we have in our lives. Study after study show that gratitude is a key factor in happiness. While we don’t often combine a gratitude practice with work, as you can see there are some easy ways to do just that. Giving thanks feeds the soul, which is as necessary in November as it is in February or June.

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Leading Forum
This post is by Stacey Engle, executive vice president at Fierce. Fierce is a global leadership development and training company that changes the way people communicate with each other. They drive results for business and education by developing conversation as a skill. They believe that while no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a business, a marriage, or a life—any single conversation can. CEO, Susan Scott is the author of Fierce Leadership a Best Leadership Book of 2009.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:11 AM
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