Gina London: How to create a culture of gratitude in the workplace
IT’S back in the saddle time, folks.
This past week, my plane from Florida flew over the iconic Poolbeg Towers and touched down again in Dublin.
Vacation time over.
Return to work. I wonder how many of you are also returning from holidays to work.
I hope you’ve been looking forward to it as much as I am. Because, of course, when you love what you do, it really isn’t work, is it?
For those of you who read my column regularly (and thank you!), you already know what a joy it is for me to share the transforming impact of how to apply more purposeful communications to every facet of your professional and personal lives.
I am rewarded each time one of you writes to me and shares your story.
When working directly with a team, I am rewarded each time I ‘see’ a little bulb light up on top of their heads.
It happens the moment they realise that anyone can learn these skills and apply them, if only they make the time to deliberately practise. They’re grateful for me and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
With all this gratitude cycling around, it’s no surprise really that my first executive training session of the back-to-work season was this past Wednesday at Workhuman.
The group was named Ireland’s ‘Best Workplace of 2019’ and the entire company’s mission is to provide global firms with technology to fuel gratitude and positivity in the workplace.
“What?” you might be asking yourself right now. “Is that even a thing?”
Yes, it is. Ask Cisco, LinkedIn and the Wall Street Journal. These are just a few of the companies and four million employees around the world that are encouraging gratitude with help from Workhuman software.
I met Niamh Graham, Workhuman’s VP of global HR, back in April, during the Dublin Tech Summit, when I chaired a panel on diversity and inclusion she was part of.
Inviting me to work with several members of the senior leadership team, she actively demonstrated her commitment to fine-tuning her leadership communications by coming to the session directly after her own flight from the States.
“We build stronger, more trusting relationships between managers and peers to improve performance and team skills, with continuous developmental feedback, check-ins and shared priorities,” Graham explains.
I asked Graham and Workhuman to help me outline what happens when your company adopts an attitude of gratitude.
“Gratitude can be built into every organisational process that involves people,” stated Aaron Kinne, Workhuman senior writer.
These processes include performance management and development, service milestones, employee recognition programmes, life events and more.
Each of these occur in any business over time, so purposefully guiding people’s feelings in a way that embraces positivity and support, during each event, is a real opportunity.
1. GRATITUDE PROMOTES STRONG TEAMWORK AND CAMARADERIE
According to University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons, one of the leading gratitude experts, gratitude not only affirms goodness but, more importantly, it recognises that the source of the goodness comes from outside of ourselves.
That means when your company launches a peer recognition programme, you are promoting your employees to look outside of themselves, to offer compliments for the deeds and actions of others.
Encouraging the giving spirit of expressing thanks in turn strengthens the connections between those same people — your colleagues and your teams.
2. GRATITUDE LAYS A FOUNDATION OF POSITIVITY AND SOCIAL CONNECTION
When I mentioned I was writing this week about formalising a culture of gratitude in the workplace, a good friend of mine commented: “Well, it’s too bad that this needs to be cultivated.”
I agree. But when you don’t take active and ongoing steps to create and curate a particular culture, you’ll quickly see how employees flounder— or perhaps work hard to try to fill that hole.
But a gap there is. Defining and harnessing any type of culture takes dedication, collaboration and cooperation. This is the foundation on which any profitable business today should be built.
3. GRATITUDE BOOSTS WELL-BEING AND RESILIENCE
I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating: the number-one thing any employee desires, more than salary and holiday days even, is to feel valued— which fosters a sense of well-being.
A culture of gratitude urges employees to strengthen their mental focus on affirming thoughts and not on obstacles. Focusing on obstacles can lead to a negative mental state, while disciplining yourself to list people and resources you are grateful for
will turn that mental state around and allow you to push through easier when difficult times arise. Even if your firm is not focused on gratitude, I urge you to start a gratitude journal. Write down three things you are thankful for every day. After one month, tell me how you are feeling.
4. GRATITUDE BOOSTS CULTURE AND RETENTION
When we feel more compassionate and caring toward our fellow employees, we feel more unified and cohesive as a team. Therefore, we’re less likely to jump ship. In short, the more gratitude there is in a company, the better it performs on nearly every metric. And for this, I'm grateful.
Write to Gina in care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie
With corporate clients on five continents, Gina London is a premier communications strategy, structure and delivery expert. She is also a media analyst, author, speaker and former CNN anchor.
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