Each Thanksgiving, many of us consider the idea of gratitude — how to cultivate it, how to give it, how to remember it throughout the year. Indeed, gratitude is a powerful tool. It can help us feel happier and more motivated in our own lives, and when we give gratitude to others, it can foster positive feelings of encouragement and recognition.
For leaders and managers, what can you do to promote gratitude within your own organization?
As with other aspects of employee engagement, there is rarely a single one-stop solution that will instantly make everyone happy and inspired. Rather, it’s all the small things that add up (and yes, sometimes the big efforts, as well), which create a culture that ideally empowers and encourages each person on the team.
Here are just a few ideas of small things you can do this season — and throughout the year — to cultivate, show and share gratitude in the workplace:
1. Send thank-you and appreciation notes.
Sometimes just a simple note can brighten your day and make your efforts feel appreciated. Encourage your team to send thank-you notes to others by equipping them with sticky notes to share, or engage in a web-based platform that sends ecards for appreciation and recognition. Whatever the method, set the example by sending out thanks yous often and with good cheer.
2. Make a recognition board.
As with thank-you notes, a recognition board can be something shared via paper or electronically. A large bulletin board in the breakroom can be used for employees to post public thank yous or other notes of appreciation for all to see. If your office has an employee portal online, you can share shout outs electronically for the team to see and share alongside other workplace news.
3. Celebrate the season together.
Whether recognizing someone’s birthday, a national holiday or a workplace milestone, celebrations are a great way to show your team you appreciate them. They encourage employee participation while showing you recognize these special occasions, and take the time out of work to celebrate them as a team. You can celebrate with a potluck, a catered meal, or even a workplace party, depending on the scope of the occasion.
4. Encourage and reward dialogue.
How does dialogue reflect gratitude, you may wonder? As a leader, when you invite your team to speak up, ask questions and make suggestions, you’re saying, “Thank you for being a part of this team. I value your voice and your contributions.” Gratitude, after all, is a form of recognition, and when you recognize the potential innovation of your employees, you’re showing them that you value their needs, concerns and ideas for how to make your organization even stronger. You can create task forces that are open to employees to join and lead, leave suggestion boxes around the office, and host brown bag lunches where employees can join conversations about work-related topics.