The Power of Thanks: Gratitude in the Workplace

by Julie LeMond

When was the last time you received a note of thanks? How did you feel? Chances are you passed that feeling along to others. When we feel appreciated, we are more positive about ourselves, our work environment and our ability to contribute.

"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." - William James.

Adding this essential element can help us shift into a more productive, energized and focused mindset. Employees may be motivated by many different things, but all crave recognition and praise. The U.S. Department of Labor cited a lack of appreciation as the top reason why people in the United States choose to leave their jobs. According to Gallup, 65 percent of people in the U.S. claim they receive no praise or recognition in the workplace.

Is your office environment filled with gratitude and appreciation? Gratitude, like any other attitude, is contagious and begins with the person in the mirror. By making the commitment to express gratitude in the work place, you seek out and focus on the positive in your life, and encourage others to do the same. This can be especially challenging in uncertain times. I am reminded of a quote from Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor,

"When we are no longer able to change a situation--we are challenged to change ourselves."

Sometimes it is hard to find something to be grateful for in the workplace. Those are the days you must start small. Did a co-worker smile at you today? Reciprocate. Did you have an easy commute to work? Give thanks. It is said that a person who has no shoes can be glad he or she has feet. When we decide to elevate our attitude and take positive actions to cultivate an atmosphere of gratitude and hope, we inspire others to do the same, despite contrary circumstances.

Spread gratitude and a lighter perspective by providing spontaneous acts of appreciation in your office. Unexpected, good-natured humor is a great way to perk people up. Share a corny knock-knock joke you've heard, or leave a candy bar or coffee gift card on someone's desk. Remember the feeling from the thank you note? Gratitude is contagious; it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Take time to appreciate those around you and their efforts in a sincere and specific way. It's as easy as a text message, an email, a phone call, a sticky note on their computer, or a hand-written note. If the favor or contribution was more significant, speak to them in person or invite them out to lunch. Keep it simple and reach as many people as you can; start with one a day.

The Bottom Line: You never know when your words of appreciation will make a person's day. It requires very little effort and yet it makes you feel good knowing that you've brightened someone's outlook with something so simple.

Julie LeMond is a freelance writer specializing in nonprofit management issues.

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