Improve Your Small Business Through Gratitude at Work

November usually finds your Facebook feed stuffed with “month of gratitude” posts. In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, these daily posts feature a different person, place, or thing for which your friends and family members are grateful. The results can be profound, with Robert Emmons - a scientific expert on gratitude - stating that this focus on being grateful can create positive changes in your mind, body, and relationships. Of course, gratitude (and these positive effects) are not limited to your personal or social media life. Gratitude is often listed as an extremely important part of the workplace culture - yet it is one that is frequently overlooked. In fact, a 2013 Gallup poll stated that 65% of employees do not feel appreciated at work. For a small business dependent on the hard work and dedication of its employees, the resulting low morale, decreased productivity, and lack of loyalty can be extremely detrimental to the success of your company. Philosopher and psychologist William James stated that "the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." For any small business owner who wants to improve the culture, environment, and productivity of the office, take a lesson from your Facebook feed and focus on creating a culture of gratitude.

Show Your Gratitude at Work Through Words

Expressing gratitude doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, a simple thank you or a recognition of a job well done can go a long way in making a employee feel positive about his or her place in your company. And yet, according to a 2012 survey by the John Templeton Foundation, only 10% of adults say thanks to a colleague on a daily basis. In person thank yous are always appreciated, as are written words of gratitude. Try sending an email or writing a note to an employee who has done something worth praising. Gratitude at Work Tip #1: Specificity is the secret ingredient that turns a simple thank you into an extremely effective thank you. Instead of merely saying “thanks” or “good job,” try something along the lines of “Thank you for finishing that budget report early. It really helped me out.”

Show Your Gratitude at Work Through Actions

Let your employees leave work an hour early. Give someone a well deserved day off. Bring in pizza for the entire office. Buy a coworker a gift certificate. Purchase a new coffee machine for the break room. Give someone a designated parking spot for a day (or week). Whether large or small, actions give a continual, concrete reminder of your appreciation. Gratitude at Work Tip #2: For small business owners who are concerned over the costs of recognition programs, take heart from this study. According to the 2012 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, companies only need to spend (on average) 1% of the payroll in order to see an 85% positive impact on engagement.

Encourage Gratitude Among Co-Workers

One of the most common suggestion given to people who want to increase their feelings of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. The daily record of things, people, and events for which you are grateful encourages you to focus on the positive (hence the Facebook feeds). While you may not be able to have every employee keep a gratitude journal, you can create a figurative gratitude journal for your entire company. Dedicate a wall in the office or a page on an internal website where employees can express their thanks to their colleagues. Gratitude at Work Tip #3: In the workplace, gratitude walls are most effective when employees are encouraged to say thank you to people instead of for things. For instance, instead of being grateful for a clean office, say thank you to Paul who cleans the building every single night.

Follow the Gratitude at Work Calendar

To help you in your quest of increasing (and encouraging) gratitude in the workplace, try using our gratitude calendar. The physical presence of the calendar will help remind you to perform at least one expression or action of gratitude every single day. Write down what you did, as well as any positive changes that you are seeing in your office. By the end of the month, you’ll be amazed what a simple thank you can do.