3 Ways To Show Your Appreciation For Your Team

Expressing gratitude is a powerful practice that often focuses on personal aspects of our lives, but extending this practice to the workplace can profoundly impact team dynamics and overall success.
3 Ways To Show Your Appreciation | Amwork

In essence, practicing gratitude in the workplace is not only a gesture of recognition but also a strategic leadership tool. It creates a positive ripple effect, enhancing the overall well-being of the team and contributing to the long-term success of the business. As a leader, expressing gratitude becomes a fundamental aspect of inspiring and nurturing a thriving and motivated team.

What Does Gratitude Mean?

Gratitude, as defined by the dictionary, is the quality of being thankful and having a readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness. It is a fundamental aspect of human interaction, forming the basis for relationships, both personal and professional.

From childhood, expressing gratitude is instilled in us by our parents, a practice that extends to thanking others for various gestures, from receiving presents to acknowledging the service of a waiter. As we mature, thanking becomes second nature, ingrained in our social behavior.

Surprisingly, however, the workplace often becomes a realm where gratitude is overlooked. A survey conducted by the John Templeton Foundation revealed that people are less likely to feel or express gratitude at work compared to other settings, such as schools and homes. Strikingly, jobs ranked last on the list of things people are grateful for.

Despite the positive impact of gratitude, with individuals acknowledging that being thanked at work boosts morale and motivation, a mere 10% acted on this impulse. The absence of gratitude in the workplace creates a culture of selfishness that detrimentally affects morale. Employees, when their efforts go unnoticed and unacknowledged, may feel unfulfilled, leading to a lack of motivation and potentially prompting them to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Recognizing and expressing gratitude in the workplace is not just a nicety; it is a vital component of fostering a positive culture, enhancing motivation, and retaining valuable team members. A workplace that values and acknowledges the contributions of its employees creates an environment where individuals feel fulfilled, motivated, and committed to their roles. As a result, integrating gratitude into the professional sphere is not only a social nicety but a strategic imperative for maintaining a thriving and cohesive work environment.

How Expressing Gratitude Can Help Your Business To Thrive

Researchers have delved into the impact of gratitude, or its absence, in the workplace, shedding light on its profound effects on business dynamics. Rather than relying solely on anecdotal evidence, these studies provide valuable insights into the tangible benefits of expressing gratitude in a professional setting.

Gratitude Improves Employee Performance:

Research, notably from the Journal of Psychological Science, underscores that expressing gratitude is a potent tool for cultivating a team of high-performing individuals who remain committed to your organization's growth. The positive impact of gratitude is particularly evident in the manager-employee relationship. When employees feel valued and trusted by their superiors, their loyalty to the organization strengthens. This heightened sense of appreciation motivates them to excel in their roles, fostering a work environment where commitment and job satisfaction prevail. As a result, the likelihood of employees seeking alternative opportunities diminishes, contributing to enhanced team stability and sustained organizational success.

Cultivating Success:

In the dynamic realm of organizational growth, the key to fostering a high-performing team lies in embracing gratitude.

This powerful strategy not only builds a team of top performers but also ensures their enduring commitment to your organization, even when faced with enticing offers from competitors. Recent findings in the Journal of Psychological Science affirm that gratitude plays a pivotal role in enhancing the relationship between managers and their direct reports.

Fostering Empathy and Enhancing Problem-Solving Through Gratitude:

Fostering empathy and enhancing problem-solving through gratitude is a powerful strategy that goes beyond surface-level gestures. Gratitude acts as a catalyst, nurturing empathy within a team and creating a reciprocal environment. When leaders express genuine gratitude to employees, it portrays leadership as responsive and compassionate, encouraging employees to reciprocate concern for both the leader and the organization. This dynamic fosters a positive workplace culture that not only values gratitude but also promotes empathy and collaborative problem-solving.

Gratitude Boosts Self-esteem:

Gratitude has a profound impact on self-esteem, as demonstrated by recent research documented in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, where athletes expressing gratitude towards their coaches experienced an elevation in self-esteem. This connection extends beyond sports to the workplace, highlighting the transformative power of gratitude on employee performance.

Stress Reduction Through Gratitude:

In the demanding landscape of professional life, stress often becomes an unavoidable companion, even for those passionate about their work. The perpetual stream of challenges and problem-solving can be invigorating, yet there exists a more insidious form of stress—one that poses a severe threat to well-being.

Navigating a job you dislike, operating within a negative culture that prioritizes cutthroat competition over collaboration, or experiencing friction with your superiors and colleagues can elevate stress to a detrimental level. The prospect of facing such a work environment daily not only compromises your health but also jeopardizes the quality of your output.

Gratitude is one of the best tools for dealing with stress.

Gratitude For Good Health:

Consider the impact of illness-related absenteeism on annual workdays— a ubiquitous challenge that transcends individual blame. Illness is an inherent part of the human experience, necessitating periods of recovery. 

But what if you could create a working environment that promotes health? Injecting some gratitude into every workday does the trick.

Gratitude transcends its role as a stress-reduction tool; it becomes a cornerstone of a health-conscious workplace culture. As we delve into the symbiotic relationship between gratitude and holistic well-being, we unravel the ways in which integrating gratitude into the daily fabric of work life not only minimizes absenteeism but fosters a proactive approach to health. It's a journey toward creating a workplace where gratitude is not just a sentiment but a powerful force that actively contributes to the vitality and longevity of its workforce.

Practical Steps for Employee Appreciation

Recognizing the pivotal role that gratitude plays in shaping a thriving business culture is only the beginning. The challenge lies in translating this understanding into tangible actions that foster genuine, positive, and enduring relationships within the workplace. Expressing gratitude goes beyond mere formality; it is a sincere practice that contributes to a workplace ethos where individuals willingly go above and beyond, even in the face of challenges.

Remember, the ultimate goal extends beyond immediate revenue gains. By cultivating a workplace where gratitude is authentically expressed and actively embraced, you lay the foundation for enduring, positive relationships that drive exceptional performance. The indirect impact on your bottom line arises organically from a workforce motivated by genuine appreciation and a shared commitment to surpassing expectations.

Authentic Recognition

When was the last time you paused to genuinely express gratitude to your team for their efforts whether it was handling customer emails with a helpful and positive tone, coordinating a business meeting, or managing phone calls?

The sentiment of 'it's their job' might cross your mind. After all, isn't their salary acknowledgment enough? The truth is, monetary compensation, while essential, doesn't address the deeper motivations that drive individuals in their professional endeavors.

A simple, sincere thank you, with eye contact and quick smile, goes a long way toward increasing loyalty and performance, and it doesn’t cost you a cent.

Beyond the transactional nature of employment, every employee seeks a sense of purpose and accomplishment from their work. Even in roles that may not ignite passion, the need for recognition and meaning remains crucial. Gratitude emerges as a powerful force, fulfilling these internal needs for respect and purpose that extend beyond the confines of a paycheck.

Powerful Leadership

Consider the turnaround at Campbell Soup Company under the leadership of CEO Douglas Conant. When he assumed the role, the company faced significant challenges, with declining sales and a disengaged managerial workforce. Yet, within eight years, Conant's strategic focus on re-engaging employees resulted in a remarkable transformation.

Harvard Business Review reported an annual earnings increase of up to 4% over eight years, coupled with a substantial rise in employee engagement to 68%. This success was not a mere coincidence but a deliberate outcome of Conant's leadership philosophy: “To win in the marketplace, we believe you must first win in the workplace.”

One of Conant's key strategies was expressing gratitude to employees consistently. He celebrated their successes, sought their feedback over lunch, and sent around 20 thank you notes daily to staff at all levels. This practice was not just about acknowledgment; it was a methodical effort to keep employee engagement at the forefront.

In a workplace where no contribution is deemed too small or insignificant for recognition, a rare and powerful transformation occurs. The prevailing mindset shifts, fostering an environment where every individual feels valued and acknowledged for their efforts.

This rarity in the workplace is a catalyst for heightened motivation among employees. The acknowledgment that no task is too minor to escape recognition instills a sense of importance and purpose in every team member

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, took this practice even further by writing notes not only to her direct reports but also to their parents, expressing gratitude for the contribution of their children to the organization.

Embracing this leadership approach, consider sending personalized thank you notes to one or two employees every month. Be specific in your appreciation, highlighting instances where their insights positively impacted projects or resolved customer issues. This practice not only acknowledges individual contributions but also cultivates a culture of gratitude that resonates throughout the organization. Periodically extending thanks to employees' parents adds a unique touch, reinforcing a sense of appreciation that transcends the workplace.

Creative Employee Appreciation

Shift away from the predictable annual gift-giving routine and delve into a realm of creative and deeply valued employee appreciation. Richard Branson, renowned entrepreneur and leader of Virgin, exemplifies this approach, consistently seeking ways to reward employees for their hard work.

Virgin's innovative employee perks extend beyond the customary holiday gift. Tribe cards provide discounts at restaurants, shops, and even for travel insurance. Employees enjoy up to 50% discounts on company products, unlimited holidays, and celebratory parties in their honor. It's a testament to Branson's commitment to embedding gratitude within the organization.

Follow this inspiration and brainstorm unique ways to express your gratitude through gifts. Consider personalizing gifts based on individual interests or your company's offerings. For instance, if you're a jewelry designer, offer custom bracelets or rings engraved with their names. Virtual teams can receive thoughtful food baskets, while partnerships with local businesses like cinemas, gyms, or spas can provide significant discounts.

On special occasions such as birthdays, accompany a bouquet of flowers or a plant with a handwritten thank-you note for a double boost of gratitude. The key is to get creative, tailoring gifts to reflect the uniqueness of your team members. This approach not only fosters a culture of appreciation but also demonstrates a genuine commitment to recognizing and valuing the diverse contributions of your employees. Unleash your creativity, and the possibilities for meaningful employee gifts are endless.

Fostering a Culture of Gratitude Among Employees

As the leader of your organization, expressing gratitude sets the tone for a positive workplace culture. However, the true power of gratitude lies in its ability to flourish not just from the top down but also among employees themselves. Imagine a workplace where ideas flow freely, achievements are acknowledged, and colleagues support each other collaboratively.

Dropbox, for instance, has successfully implemented a program called Gratitude Post. Designed around the company's core values, employees can express gratitude by writing thank-you notes on corresponding cards, acknowledging behaviors aligned with values like teamwork and attention to detail. The Gratitude Post team then delivers these notes, fostering a culture of recognition and providing valuable insights into the driving values of the workforce.

Implementing a gratitude program doesn't require a substantial budget. A simple gratitude wall, adorned with sticky notes showcasing appreciation for colleagues, can be equally effective. Anonymous messages can be encouraged, emphasizing the importance of acknowledgment over attribution.

Engage your team in creating a customized gratitude program. Seek their input on whether they prefer anonymity or signing notes, and explore additional creative ideas to enhance the program's effectiveness. Whether it's decorating the wall, crafting special thank-you cards, or suggesting other innovations, involving your team ensures that the gratitude program resonates authentically within your unique workplace culture.

Infusing Gratitude Throughout Your Workplace

The transformative impact of gratitude on workplace culture is nothing short of remarkable. It transcends negativity, cultivates top-performing and loyal teams, and, when wielded effectively, can significantly boost your bottom line. It's not just a program; it's an attitude that holds the power to reshape your business and enhance personal happiness.

You don't need a hefty budget to embrace gratitude; a genuine thank you, spoken or written, serves as a powerful starting point. As the leader, your expression of gratitude sets the tone, creating a ripple effect that touches every facet of your business. It goes beyond financial investments; it's about fostering a culture where appreciation becomes ingrained in the daily fabric of work.

Consider the profound impact of gratitude as a catalyst for positive change. Start small, acknowledging individual efforts and contributions. Watch as this simple act of recognition permeates through your organization, inspiring others to join in. The beauty of gratitude lies not just in what it does for your business but in the collective spirit it fosters among your team.

Now, the question is, how will you inject more gratitude into your workplace? Your actions can serve as a beacon, inspiring others to embrace the power of gratitude, creating a workplace where appreciation becomes a shared value. It's a journey that begins with a sincere thank you and unfolds into a transformative force that elevates both your business and the well-being of everyone involved.


Matteo Bianchi

Matteo Bianchi


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