by Oct 28, 2018

How building a culture of gratitude can boost morale, increase motivation, improve productivity and promote better relationships.

“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.”

— Charles Schwab

The number one complaint I hear from my clients is that they feel overworked and under-appreciated. This happens even more often during the holiday season when employees have so much on their plate, so much to do and to think before they all go off on their holidays. However, when you build a culture of gratitude, your employees feel more connected to one another, their job and ultimately their organization.

Just say “thank you”


When I ask what would make them happier at work, the majority response is that “a “thank you” would do”. Is it possible that saying “thank you” can actually make someone happier at work? In a study performed by Frank Flynn at Stanford Graduate School of Business employees reported that they felt truly appreciated and did more work than expected to when their leaders said “thank you”. It also showed that a sense of gratitude helps employees cope with stress; strengthen their social relationships; improve their overall sense of well-being, attitude and self-esteem, and it creates positive emotions and good health.

The study further showed that employees who were thanked for their work were willing to go the extra mile, provided more help in the future and promoted cooperation. Employees felt more loyal thus staying longer in the company.

In another study performed by UC Berkeley, 93% of 2,000 people interviewed agreed that grateful leaders are more likely to succeed. Most of the interviewed reported that hearing “thank you” at work made them feel good and motivated. They also reported that saying “thank you” to their colleagues made then feel happier and more fulfilled. However, it was also reported that very few actually do it. Why is that? Why is it so hard to show gratitude at the workplace? Is it because we believe that we are being paid to do the work so no need for “thank you”? Or maybe we believe that showing gratitude is a sign of weakness? Whatever the reason, it is clear that we are going against our own instincts and losing on the bamazing benefits of being grateful and spreading gratitude.

The ripple effect


Building a culture of gratitude is hard work and must come from the top. When leaders model a sense of gratitude to anyone and everyone for all different kinds of work, their employees, in turn, will also feel thankful for those around them. It’s a domino effect. Writing a “thank you” note, expressing gratitude during a meeting, thanking someone mentally when you can’t actually do it at that very moment, counting your blessings, all help create the habit.

Yet another positive of thanking co-workers is that cultivating a culture of gratitude helps a workplace prepare for stresses that come with change, conflict, and failure. It also helps the employees overcome the obstacles of crisis and focus on the lessons they learned from it.

Perhaps we can bake “thank you’s” into the software that we use daily. Automattic, maker of, has an internal program called “Kudos” in which employees and leaders can post “thanks” or “high fives” to each other in an open bulletin board for something positive they did. Way to go Automattic!*

Consider starting a new routine by asking someone to thank a colleague for something they did before the beginning of a meeting.

It may take time, but with practice, you can help create a grateful environment and will understand that saying “thank you” is a very good business indeed.

*This is personal knowledge as my husband works at Automattic. “Kudos” is not open to the public. But a good practice nonetheless. 







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