Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member China Gorman, who writes and thinks about the challenges of building cultures of strong employee engagement for top performance and innovation. China was formerly CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, and COO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Do you remember your first job? Do you remember the first time your first boss said “thank you” or “nice work” or _good job”? Do you remember how that made you feel? How long has it been since your current boss or a co-worker noticed what you did and said thank you? If you're like most of us, it's been a long time. And that's too bad. Particularly within the current negative and challenging pandemic environment.

The truth is, whether you're at work or somewhere else, it's hard to be angry, fearful, or upset when you're being grateful. When I was a kid and acting out in particularly unbecoming ways - which I did with some regularity what with being a redhead and the oldest child - my mom or dad would sit me down for an hour and make me write a list of the things for which I was grateful. An hour. A long list.

Of course, as a youngster I would start with dumb stuff like the sky, the sun, the neighborhood swimming pool. But I exhausted those pretty quickly. And because I had to keep writing (for an hour!) I would start to really think about what I was grateful for. And moved into more meaningful things like my family. My brother and sister. The fun times we had with our cousins. My amazing grandparents. And before I knew it, my head and my heart were filled with gratitude and I forgot about whatever it had been that had made me act out.

I use this as an adult, a leader, and a colleague all the time. When I'm challenged with a situation or behavior not to my liking, I take a deep breath and look for the things related to the situation that I can be grateful for. It defuses my negative emotions and plugs into my positive side. And, what do you know?! I can usually pretty easily work my way through whatever the situation is.

How about in organizational life, though? Well, there's a whole recognition industry providing tech solutions that make recognizing employee impact and longevity easy. And these are great. You should definitely have formal programs that call out high impact contributions from employees. No question.

But what's more powerful than a boss coming up to you and saying, “I see what you are doing and it's amazing. Thank you for your contributions to our success!”? A personal thank you - not a pre-programmed tech thank you. In the moment. Sincere. Heartfelt. Human. There may be nothing more powerful in an organization than sincere gratitude.

Here's my challenge to you - whether you're an executive leader, a middle level manager, an individual contributor, or someone just starting their first job: show gratitude every single day. In this first month of the new year, find someone doing something great just once a day and say thank you. In February, find two someones doing something great each day and say thank. And, starting in March, find three someones doing something great each and say thank you. By then, gratitude will be a habit and that's a good thing. You won't be able to stop.

If you're in a large organization, this might be easier than if you're in a small organization. But do it anyway. And if you can't find examples at work, then find them elsewhere. (But of course, that will happen anyway - gratitude is like that.)

Here's the thing: when you see the impact of your gratitude on the faces of those you thank, it will empower you to be more and more grateful. Living a life in which you're focused on recognizing the impact of others rather than your own will become addictive. You'll become a force for good that will be valued and emulated. Imagine the power of an organization full of people who are constantly lifting each other up by expressing thanks?

Today's post comes to us from the executive director of The Workforce Institute, Dr. Chris Mullen, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, SPHR.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It seems to have somehow escaped the commercialism of so many other yearly celebrations and continues instead to revolve around the simple pleasures of good food, family and friends. And, of course, being thankful.

The writer Charles Dickens is credited as having said, “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” While good advice to live by any year, it's perhaps never been more relevant than this year, 2020, a year in which so many people around the world have faced hardships both large and small, catastrophic and mundane.

When it comes to our working lives, it's just as important to have gratitude. Not every day at work is a walk in the park (as the old line goes, “that's why they call it _work'”) but upon reflection, there are often many blessings to be found: supportive colleagues who make each day better, the satisfaction that comes with knowing you have put forth your best effort and created something worthwhile, even the failures, which always seem to be our best teachers and help us grow.

The role of gratitude in creating a great workplace is something we have always focused on at The Workforce Institute, and in preparation for Thanksgiving, I wanted to highlight some recent and not so recent articles that touch on this topic:

Nurses on the Front Line

Workforce Institute board member Nanne Finis, Chief Nurse Executive at UKG, had one of my favorite posts this year where she reflected on the bravery, knowledge and skills of nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finding a Cure for The Summer Scaries

Our “Summer Scaries” survey looked at how working parents, and working people in general, were feeling as Fall approached and the global pandemic showed no signs of slowing down. It's been such a stressful year, and this survey served as a reminder to all employers and managers to recognize this stress and find ways to thank employees for all they are doing to get us through this time: “Make time to celebrate your employees' wins and get creative about how you do it. Practice gratitude and see how it transforms your working life. Recognize the magic in a _thank you.' People need appreciation and simple kindness perhaps most of all right now.”

Frontline Workforce Management During the Pandemic

In this post, three UKG Technology Partners shared some of the lessons they have learned about frontline workforce management during the pandemic. Among other great insight, “Acknowledgment and recognition goes a long way, whether it be from a manager or someone very senior within the organization. Humility and appreciation from leadership can help make coming into work every day–and possibly putting themselves at risk–feel more worth it.”

Want Your Stars to Stay? Say Thank You

This post is a bit older than the others highlighted here, but its lesson is timeless. Focused on a survey we conducted about appreciation at work in 2015, we noted at the time, “The most interesting results of this survey are those concerning what it takes to make employees feel appreciated. It's not just about the Benjamins. When asked what gives them a high sense of satisfaction at work, employees say receiving a “Thank you” from their direct manager (55 percent) is important to them. For employees who feel somewhat or not at all appreciated, not being recognized for the work they do was the top reason cited by nearly half (48 percent) as something that makes them not feel appreciated at work.”

Saying Thanks

So, take the opportunity this week to thank someone (or even better, more than just one someone) for their efforts this year.  At work, at home, in any aspect of life, expressing appreciation makes everyone feel better and truly does make the world a little better.

Connect with us

Subscribe to our blog

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram