How to cultivate gratitude in the workplace

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How gratitude can help you redefine day-to-day success and inspire you to bring more positive outlooks in the workplace

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Gratitude is a practice highlighted in various contexts simply because it works. Yet, when it comes to our gratitude in the workplace, our own company (for the fellow business owners out there), it’s a subject we tend to overlook. 

More and more employees are looking at joining companies whose culture reflects theirs. Moreover, they want to work in an environment that encourages growth, support and a safe environment.

Appreciation always comes first

Nina Dafe is the founder and CEO of The Far Above Rubies Collection, where she helps women to go from stumped to savvy about how to get PR for their businesses. 

As a freelance with her done-for-you PR agency, Nina carries all the lessons she learned about how not to be a leader into how she works with her team by treating them with respect, love and appreciation. 

“Not just thanking them for what they’ve done/do well, but explaining what made their actions so fabulous. Plus, how/why that positively impacted me, the client or the business as a whole.”

For example, after her grandmother’s funeral, she sent her team the following message: “Just wanted to let you know that the funeral was a success on Monday. Thanks for all your support along the way and help with the business. I Couldn’t have done it without you. Truly appreciate you…”. 

Nina reflects on how it has been highly influential in affirming them, making them a tightly knit team and cultivating gratitude within the fabric of the work culture.

Create gratitude rituals

 Similarly, creating rituals is an excellent reminder of how small gestures can go a long way.

“Having a ‘Gratitude Wednesday’ where employees can leave ‘thank you’ notes as they enter or leave the workplace. Otherwise, ‘send a coffee’ (or treats) nominations where they can choose one person or a few to receive treats as a grateful gesture,” shares Danielle Parisi, founder of Três Paper Co

Appreciation is one of the best ways to keep a team engaged. These gestures are an easy way to encourage that.- Danielle Parisi

Rachel Allison, the founder of purpose-first PR & Communications agency Axe & Saw, created her agency to drive change within the industry, particularly around working culture. 

“It has been paramount for my team to operate with values at our core. One of the ways to foster this is by ensuring everyone identifies with the agency and the work they spend four days a week to show up. People have more choice than ever, particularly the younger generation and making sure purpose and excitement is part of our daily agenda drives this.”

Below are some of her values:

  • We make team catch-ups informal and human
  • We have an open door policy when it comes to messaging or who to talk to ask questions
  • We ensure our company values align with the team’s values in as many places as possible

“Cultivate a feeling of belonging and make sure people feel part of something important; otherwise, what is there to be grateful for?” Rachel adds.

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When in doubt, start small

Sarah Knight, the founder of Mind The Gap Academy, reminds us of the oldest trick in the book. “Say ‘Thank you’. It’s the simplest, most effective strategy to practice gratitude and build a positive culture at work.” 

The fabulous thing about saying thank you is that you feel good doing it, and your recipient feels brilliant. 

“One of the techniques I bring into workplaces when looking at building and developing a positive company culture is to play Thank You Tig. It’s a great initiative for a Friday so that everyone goes into the weekend feeling positive. Someone starts “Thank You Tig” by thanking a colleague for something they have done that week. It could be as simple as making someone a brew, providing some support, or helping with a piece of work. The person that gets ‘tigged’ then passes it on and thanks someone else.”

“It’s a public acknowledgement of teamwork of people and place,” Sarah continues. “It’s a practical way of practising gratitude and taking personal responsibility for positively impacting workplace culture.”

Gratitude as an antidote for helplessness

Times are uncertain now (apparently the only acceptable way to address 2022). Plenty of people are facing major career struggles, which means I am not going to sugar-coat things.

Layoffs, recession, or working for a company on shaky footing are all anxiety-inducing situations. You cannot turn a blind eye and pretend it’s not affecting you. 

Celebrating accomplishments with your team, or even the time to step back and reevaluate your career ambitions and find the best path for you.

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