What Does a Grateful Workplace Look Like?

light-sign-typography-lightingIn a few days, those of us in (or of) the United States will celebrate a holiday called Thanksgiving. This holiday, like many holidays, is mired in a messy history that is often overshadowed by Black Friday sales and football games. In its purest form, however, this day is about gratitude. Giving thanks. Most of us will spend the day with our loved ones, but that shouldn't mean that the thanks giving stops when we go back to work.

Gratitude transforms the way that we see the world. When we teach our brain to be grateful, it learns to look for other things to be grateful for. This means that you - and those around you - can learn to feel and express more gratitude, which research shows will make you a happier, healthier person.

So if we as individuals can learn to be more grateful, can't our workplaces? What would a gratitude-centered workplace look like? I have some ideas:

  • Simple. When we're grateful for what we have, we feel fewer urges to consume. Grateful workplaces would become better stewards of their resources - whether it's money, time, space, or materials.
  • Jovial. I think most of us take things at work too seriously. When we notice and give thanks for what we need (basics like shelter, food, and the interwebs), there's space for a lighter approach to life. We can even laugh off adversity and give thanks for the hard lessons we're learning.
  • Connected. When was the last time someone sincerely thanked you for something? Didn't it feel good? Didn't you feel a connection to that person? Instead of assuming that people in the workplace will become connected through their shared goals (or enemies), we can foster deeper connection by encouraging shows of gratitude. 

This season, I encourage you to look for ways to infuse your workplace with more gratitude. Set up a kudos wall, spend 5 minutes emailing notes of gratitude to your co-workers, or end team meetings by asking everyone to share one thing they're grateful for. 

A study conducted by The Energy Project and the Harvard Business Review found that when folks in an organization feel genuinely valued and appreciated by those in leadership, they report having 53% more focus and feeling 58% more engaged. So even if your heart isn't convinced, the data is pretty compelling: gratitude can be transformational.

In closing, I want to share a poem by Melody Beattie, who writes about the power of gratitude more beautifully than I can:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.

It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

I'm grateful for you, dear reader, and for the attention you gave this post. If it resonated with you, consider spreading the thanksgiving spirit by sharing this post with others.