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From Gratitude to Greatness: The impact of thankfulness in the workplace

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Elevating employee engagement with an attitude of gratitude

Do you remember the last time you received a thank you note? Can you recall how it made you feel? Probably pretty positive. Positive about the person who sent it to you, positive about the action you were being thanked for, and more likely that you’d do the same thing again if given the opportunity. All this positivity from a simple thank you note.

Mark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." What is even more interesting is what we are learning about the positive benefits that result from acts of gratefulness. Being grateful requires mindful practice. You don't thank someone accidentally. It requires us to take note of noteworthy acts. It benefits from empathy and thinking about the busy life of the person who took the action. It requires extra effort on our part.

Recently, scientists have researched this concept using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning technology and have found interesting connections with many aspects of well-being.

"The Brain and Creativity Institute at USC's Department of Psychology conducted an experiment exploring how gratitude affects the brain. As subjects experienced the feeling of gratitude, their brains were being monitored through MRI technology. A feeling of gratitude stimulated parts of the brain associated with positive emotion and moral thinking; gratitude stimulated patterns in the brain that reinforce positivity."

At the University of California, San Diego researchers found that feeling gratitude was associated with better sleep, decreased depression, decreased fatigue and a more positive outlook.

Further, a team of researchers from the Institute for Visual History and Education found through MRI technology that when the brain feels gratitude, it activates areas responsible for feelings of reward, moral cognition, subjective value judgments, fairness, economic decision-making and self-reference.

There are numerous studies confirming the benefits of gratitude not only to the recipient but to the person expressing the sentiment.

Research conducted on gratitude by Michael McCullough (University of Miami) and Robert Emmons (UC Davis) has shown that people who frequently experience gratitude are happier, less depressed or anxious, more emphatic, and more helpful than people who do not have a grateful disposition.

From gratitude to greatness.

As you plot your course to greatness for your company think about ways you might encourage your workforce to be more appreciative. Help them to understand the power of positive reinforcement. Provide suggestions about posting kudos about a colleague and encouraging leadership to take a minute and acknowledge special efforts or milestone achievements. Keep in mind that with each act of gratitude you are getting a two-fold return: the person being thanked, appreciated, or recognized feels great but the sender also experiences feelings of positivity, energy, and a greater sense of well-being.

A few considerations for building a culture of gratitude.

  1. Gratitude is not a narrow, one-way street. It's multidimensional with a wide variety of ways to say thank you. Appreciation should be top-down, bottoms-up and every way in between.
  2. Gratitude should be a relationship building effort. To be grateful you need to take notice of those around you. Take time to reflect. Everyone in the company should try to be more observant and sensitive to extra effort and noteworthy acts. To do that, people need to get to know each other, develop empathy and understanding for co-workers and colleagues.
  3. Gratitude embraces feelings of respect and admiration. A primary driver of healthy workplace cultures, and ultimately elevated engagement, is respect. Taking time to say, "I respect how busy you were, I respect that this was not a part of your specific job duties, I admire your diligence and extra effort it took." When people are respected, they respond more favorably and engage more actively.

As the holiday season fast approaches, think about to ways elevate your "culture of gratitude." With a little more appreciation, you will likely see greater positivity, higher levels of job satisfaction, a boost in productivity and a generally positive shift in morale. Those focused on greatness for your company will be most appreciative.

If you are interested in learning more about how Augeo can help build a culture of gratitude and appreciation for your company click here.

Workplace Engagement
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