Support a Culture of Gratitude and Improve Workplace Productivity


By Maria Geokezas, Chief Operating Officer at Heinz Marketing

It’s that time of year, when we naturally think about what we are grateful for. But studies show the practice of gratitude translates to the workplace as well. In fact, building a culture of gratitude helps to ensure happier employees and healthier workplace relationships. And can even build greater career success and improve workplace productivity. But to do so requires practicing gratitude all year-round, not just at year-end when we are thinking about planning future initiatives or conducting employee performance reviews.

First of all, let’s be clear on what gratitude is and isn’t. There are all sorts of definitions of gratitude available via Google. The common thread of which is an awareness or recognition something positive is due in part to the efforts of others. It involves a humble dependence on others. Gratitude starts within an individual but it’s contagious. It doesn’t have to be spoken or written or delivered publicly to have a positive effect.

Practicing gratitude can sometimes be at odds with business culture and workplace dynamics.  But it shouldn’t be.

Why Successful Business Leaders Practice Gratitude

According tot Robert Emmons, the preeminent expert on gratitude, people who practice gratitude gain benefits personally and professionally. Individual benefits include:

  • Physical: stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, more frequent/regular exercise, and better sleep patterns
  • Psychological: feeling more alert, present, joyful, and optimistic
  • Social: more confidence, a greater sense of belonging, increased helpfulness, generosity, and forgiveness.

Considering we spend most of our productive waking hours with our workplace colleagues, it’s easy to understand how these individual benefits positively impact business success. A 2012 study by the American Psychological Association, found 93% of employees “who reported feeling valued said they are motivated to do their best at work and 88 percent reported feeling engaged.”

I’ve coached hundreds of business leaders. The ones that have a system for regularly recognizing and giving thanks to their team members experience greater employee engagement, less frustration and burnout, and more clarity in their work.  Brittany Drozd, Business Coach

Gratitude in the workplace is also associated with a number of productivity factors including a healthier workforce, fewer sick days, increased goal achievement, higher job satisfaction and lower turnover. In a Glassdoor survey 81% of employees said they would work harder for a grateful boss.

How to make gratitude a year-round practice at your workplace

As a business leader, you may think your team knows they are appreciated, however one fifth of working Americans said they do not feel valued by their employers. Here are a few tangible examples to ensure your team knows they are appreciated:

  • Integrate a private gratitude practice by reserving 5 min at the end of each day to reflect on what went well and the people that made it happen. The 5-Minute Gratitude Journal can help get you started.
  • Model the gratitude you want to see among your team members. Start and/or close every communication with a “thank you”.  At the start of a team meeting, let everyone know you appreciate they have their video on for the Zoom meeting. Or that they showed up on time. At the close of an email, thank people for their time and attention your message.
  • Create a cheers channel on Slack. This creates a running log of appreciation, calling out specific team members and encouraging others to hop on the “cheers train”. Gratitude begets gratitude. And the kudos don’t need to be big grand gestures. A simple thank you for support on a specific project or help with a problem will mean a lot to the recipient. Reading through the cheers channel is a positive way to start the week.
  • At Heinz Marketing, we’ve made gratitude a part of our daily, weekly and quarterly operations. Our President does a weekly cheers recap and posts a video every Friday to summarize and highlight the good deeds that best reflect the company’s values. These cheers equate to a Heinzie. Each Heinzie is an entry to quarterly rewards. Each quarter we reward team members with the most Heinzie’s with a $100 gift card of their choice.

Do you have a gratitude practice?  How does your organization practice gratitude?  Please share your advice below.