This year, it has been easy to focus on the challenges we have faced. In January, it looked like the pandemic was going to be relegated to history and the vaccine would mean our lives would soon look like they did in 2019.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

While many of us have been able to get back to a version of the life we lived before, many are still living under some public health restrictions. For some, there are increasing COVID-19 case numbers and there remains an air of uncertainty. The pandemic has had an impact on our mental health as well. According to one study, since the outbreak began, 57% of people are experiencing greater anxiety and 53% of us are more emotionally exhausted. Gratitude is needed now more than ever.

There is significant research on the effects of gratitude in our life. These studies show that it ultimately leads us to a natural biproduct of happiness. Gratitude is a tool that helps us recognize and acknowledge the best moments and reframes our thinking with a positive slant.

The top reasons to express gratitude in the workplace:

Strengthens Professional Relationships

Gratitude often impacts our connection with others. We may feel appreciation from a small gesture from a colleague, for lending a hand or for a kind word.  Building this emotional connection is a core competency of IHHP’s Emotional Intelligence training.

The important next step is to express that appreciation utilizing the practice of gratitude.

Gratitude is recognition of the success as a result of team effort and peer collaboration. It’s acknowledgement that we appreciate more than skills and ability, but also how the work is accomplished and the positive impact on those around us.  Demonstrating gratitude within our teams makes others feel valued. This can go a long way to sustain relationships and deepen appreciation.

Strengthens Organizational Culture

If leaders can model gratitude, the impact can be lasting through out the organization.

Acknowledging thoughtfulness and the efforts of people with gratitude show them they matter and are recognized as a contributing team member. Authentically expressed gratitude reflects a Leader’s compassion and empathy. This creates a ripple effect of kindness that can quickly change the landscape within an organization.

On the flip side of this, a lack of gratitude can often result in burnout and high turnover, feelings of resentment for efforts made and many missed opportunities. Gratitude is able to overpower these negative responses and cultivate a healthier, more effective workplace.

Strengthens Emotional Intelligence

Gratitude is an expression of emotion that builds positivity among colleagues and helps us create empathy; to see from someone else’s perspective and assume positive intent. It brings awareness to our own emotions as we intentionally look for and, acknowledge the good in others. Those who express gratitude are actively looking for ways to continue to do so. We know that emotions drive behavior. Consider how powerful it is to be in a willing mindset of positivity that can develop from gratitude. Expressing gratitude is an opportunity to enhance empathy within the workplace and make us more effective leaders.

Enhances Employee Performance

Demonstrating gratitude can help us think clearly and increase decision making and productivity. Problem solving skills are no longer limited by binary or negative thinking. Showing our colleagues that we appreciate them could significantly increase performance.

The positive influence of gratitude on our own performance makes us more open to feedback and improvement. When we think about what we are grateful for, we have an open mind set that leads to new possibilities and solutions.

What an amazing chance for us to shift our thinking from “challenge” to “opportunity”. Gratitude is simply one of the easiest and quickest ways to impact our performance in the workplace.

Enhances Emotional and Physical Well Being

More than any other trait, gratitude is strongly linked to mental heath and overall wellbeing. Gratitude increases levels of dopamine, the “feel good” part of the brain. Expressing gratitude can rewire how the brain works, potentially resulting in more energy, fewer sick days, and increased optimism. Studies have proven it’s an effective sleep aid as well. Feeling gratitude before bed can help sleep quality and reduces the time it takes to fall asleep.

Gratitude reduces negativity. It’s difficult to be negative when you’re regularly identifying things for which you are grateful. Attention is naturally focused in a positive and healthy direction and shifts thoughts away from those that cause anxiety or toxic feelings. One of the fastest ways to improve mood and outlook is to seek out opportunities for gratitude.

Another important aspect of gratitude is an increase in self-care. People tend to become more appreciative of themselves, and as a result learn to take better care of themselves by eating healthier or exercising more.

Bonus Benefit

Expressing gratitude is contagious. It makes both the giver and receiver feel good and guess what? It results in more gratitude! And the more frequently it’s practiced, the easier it will be to recognize moments to be grateful for in the workplace.

Gratitude is such a powerful emotion that even writing on this topic has shifted my mindset today. So I would be remiss if I didn’t share a little of my own workplace gratitude. I received this email from a colleague in response to some feedback I provided:

“Phae, as a colleague you have my greatest trust that whatever news you are delivering is meant to help and inform and that is how I interpret your emails.”

I feel grateful to be part of a team that endeavors to build gratitude into our culture.

“Enjoy the little things. For one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

Learn how you can integrate gratitude and empathy in your organization’s culture