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Giving Thanks: The Importance of Workplace Gratitude

People are less likely to feel or express gratitude at work than anyplace else, according to a John Templeton Foundation survey. The survey reports that “Americans actively suppress gratitude on the job, even to the point of robbing themselves of happiness.” Why? An article published in UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine says that some employees think that expressing gratitude “could lead to coworkers taking advantage of them.… The result is a vicious, culturally ingrained circle of ingratitude, which can have a terrible effect on workplace morale and cohesion.” Yikes.

So how can you create a culture of gratitude? The article offers five research-tested tips for fostering gratitude on the job:

  1. Start at the Top. “Employees need to hear ‘thank you’ from the boss first.”
  2. Thank the people who never get thanked. “Thanking those who do thankless work is crucial because it sets the bar and establishes the tone.”
  3. Aim for quality, not quantity. “There is such a thing as too much gratitude — it seems trying to be grateful everyday induced gratitude fatigue.”
  4. Provide many opportunities for gratitude. Try a kudos webpage on your interoffice site or create a “gratitude wall” on the breakroom bulletin board.
  5. In the wake of a crisis, take time for thanksgiving. Gratitude helps employees to see beyond one disaster and recognize their gains.

Gratitude, the article concludes, is something anyone can learn — from which everyone will benefit.