5 Systems to Bring Gratitude to the Workplace
“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.”
With daily discussions around “soft” skills and hiring trends, as well as the regular stream of studies that remind us of the profit in good workplaces, how do you create a workplace that feels safe?
One of the struggles is that soft skills can be very difficult to reflect in structured environments. The secret is intentionality.
Everyone, from the C-suite to the temp pool, can affect workplace environment. Each person’s character and actions ripple. Creating an environment of gratitude, like most important tasks, requires an element of system to make it consistent and sustainable.
Here are 5 ideas for creating better work environments through gratitude systems:
1. The Commute Conversation
Each day, whether you work in an actual place of business or from your home, there is a commute. The time spent getting to the workplace and preparing for work is the time to purposefully begin filling up with gratitude.
This morning before I began writing, I made my coffee, moved to my writing spot, and turned on my computer. You might have to leave your home at 6:00 am to arrive at the office by 9:00. Either way this time is vital for filling up on gratitude. The conversation you have with yourself during your commute sets you up to impact those you will be with the rest of the work day.
Making the choice to spend this conversation time with yourself on things that are good, noble, and right in the world prepares us with energy and resources to deal with all the various circumstances and people we will encounter.
2. Set your BASE
This begins before you start your first conversation, before you approach any new activity. Set a foundation that starts you in the right direction.
Breathe – Just the other day, my family sat down to an amazing steak dinner. About halfway through my porterhouse, I realized I wasn’t tasting it. So I stopped to breath.
Too often we miss the joys of life because we aren’t slowing down long enough to experience them, and all it takes is a breath.
Anticipate – Decide in your one breath that you may experience those who are having a bad day, struggling in ways you don’t know, conflict oriented, even angry, but you will be kind and calm in the face of their attack.
The wise king Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” (The Book of Proverbs 15:1)
Smile – Sometimes moving the muscles on the outside of your mouths up seems like the hardest work out of the day. Still the choice to do so changes atmospheres. Besides you have spent your commute filling up on gratitude, so go to your reserve, bring out the joy, and smile.
Engage – Use first names whenever possible. Participate in conversations, especially through active listening. Practice staying present.
When you enter the workplace or a meeting, choose someone to engage as quickly as possible. This may mean arriving early, but your stock will rise and others will feel more gracious toward you, when you consistently and generously engage them.
3. The Gratitude Journal
The Gratitude Journal is a key system to creating a culture around you that breeds gratitude; however, it is not a diary of the things for which you are grateful.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
—William Arthur Ward
The Gratitude Journal is simply a system for tracking data around expressed gratitude. The Gratitude Journal is a spread sheet on which you list the name of all your team or employees, the day of the month, and how you expressed gratitude toward them. Download an example and template to get started.
The Gratitude Journal takes the guess work out of how you are doing. It allows you to be sure no one is being missed, and it tracks how well you are showing gratitude to those closest to you.
4. The Thank You Card
Today, I received a hand-written note from the leader of an organization I recently had the joy of training. I felt gratitude for their expressed gratitude. Ripples. Taking a few minutes each day to write one or two thank you cards can change the culture of an entire company.
What if you lead an organization of hundreds or even thousands of employees? Is it even realistic to believe you can write everyone a personal “Thank You” note? Yes. The process may take longer, but the effect will be huge.
Imagine for a moment you’re in middle management at Dell Technologies, and your team has been broken into pieces due to company wide systems changes. You do your best to acclimate to the new team you are on, and spend time getting to know and supporting your new boss.
Then one day your inbox has a two sentence note from Michael Dell that says, “I know the changes to your part of our organization were disruptive. Thank you for working to keep us moving into the future.” It might be encouraging. Now imagine the same note on a hand-written card.
Write the card.
5. The Commute Conversation (part 2)
End your day with reflection. Before you get home take time to review with yourself how it went today, and how you can improve tomorrow.
Then before you re-enter your home life, fill up again with gratitude. Your home, after all, is probably why you went to work in the first place.
While systems give us a great ability to create a culture of gratitude, consistent, genuine, public compliments with eye contact are still the easiest and most efficient form of adding gratitude. They take less than 30 seconds and are always available to the intentional.