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Putting Gratitude to Work in the Workplace

What if there was an initiative you could implement that would make your workplace one where people actually want to work, contribute, and belong?   And what if it was completely free, required no special training, and would generate results immediately?

That initiative isn’t too good to be true. It exists and it is surprisingly simple.

“Please” and “thank you” are among the first social courtesies we are taught. Beyond just good manners, a wealth of research over the last 20 years has illuminated what happens inside a grateful brain as well as the physical, emotional, and social benefits. When we appreciate what is good in our lives, we are inspired to do good things. We are more generous, altruistic, and kind to others. People with more grateful dispositions report being happier and more satisfied with their lives. Gratitude functions as the “social glue” that enables us to cultivate new relationships and nurture existing relationships —  the very foundation of a civilized society.

Why, then, shouldn’t it be the foundation of a civilized workplace?

Just like in our personal lives, a sense of gratitude can improve self-esteem, optimism, a sense of unity, and overall well-being at work. When we extend expressions of gratitude with our colleagues, we create a “pay it forward” chain of positivity.  Employees who feel appreciated are more productive, better team players, and more engaged – the essential ingredients for organizational success.

People may work for the paycheck, but they go the extra mile when they feel appreciated and are recognized for their contributions.

Implementing gratitude into your organization doesn’t have to be an HR initiative rolled out from the leadership team. Whether it is a simple “thank you” note or a more formal expression of appreciation, the psychological effects of gratitude in the workplace can have a tremendous impact on job satisfaction, effort, productivity, and corporate culture.

My new eBook, Gratitude at Work: It’s more than good manners; it’s good business, was designed to help you cultivate the power of gratitude in your organization. Whether you are the CEO, the receptionist, or the custodian, every single one of us has the power to put gratitude to work. If you don’t think one person is powerful enough to be a catalyst for positive organizational change, think again!

Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.https://www.melissahughes.rocks/
Dr. Melissa Hughes is a neuroscience geek, keynote speaker, and author. Her latest book, Happier Hour with Einstein: Another Round explores fascinating research about how the brain works and how to make it work better for greater happiness, well-being, and success. Having worked with learners from the classroom to the boardroom, she incorporates brain-based research, humor, and practical strategies to illuminate the powerful forces that influence how we think, learn, communicate and collaborate. Through a practical application of neuroscience in our everyday lives, Melissa shares productive ways to harness the skills, innovation and creativity within each of us in order to contribute the intellectual capital that empowers organizations to succeed with social, financial and cultural health.
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Joel Elveson

Melissa, thank you for writing and sharing your article. There is a pronounced lack of gratitude that is being expressed in many different areas for a myriad of reasons with few of them (if any) being valid. At work, we want to feel appreciated and e told we are doing a good job. Complimenting an employee or saying thank you to them goes a long way. When you are hired to do a job in exchange for x amount of dollars you are expected to do your job to the best of your ability. Compliments are nice but they should not be necessary. More than anything else an employee will feel valued by the size of their raise, bonus, or promotion. There is a saying that goes something like this in the business world “money speaks louder than words.” You can’t buy anything with a compliment but you can with money. As a recruiter, I hear all different reasons people give for wanting a new job. Not feeling appreciated is one of them but I refer to my earlier statement that continued employment is all the gratitude you should need. In the end, as it so often does it comes down to $. When I present an opportunity to a candidate invariably the first question they will ask is what is the salary. Show me the money!

Jeff Ikler

Melissa – I suspect you may get some push back on part of your sub-title “It’s good for business.” The purists may argue that it’s just about “good manners.” But if we get a few more leaders and staff to be civil and grateful because they realize it will help the bottom line, so be it. I don’t care how they get to awareness as long as they get to awareness. My wife just spent a week at a sales meeting and shared some stories that left me with a dropped jaw and my head shaking in disbelief.

Well done! Going to share this one!

Kimberly Davis

I love all things Melissa Hughes, Ph.D. and this is a great example of why that is true! #Grateful (Oh look what I did there! I just increased my oxytocin!)

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