Bolstering gratitude in the workplace - Activate World

Bolstering gratitude in the workplace

The benefits of expressing gratitude are well known. Studies show the more you are thankful, the more attuned you are to your feelings of well-being and gratefulness. Unfortunately, appreciation and gratitude in the workplace lag behind expressions of these emotional skills.

Lunchtime conversations:

  • How can the positive aspects of gratitude create a “we’re in this together” mentality in the workplace?
  • Research shows that gratitude tends to emerge in workplaces with more “perceived organizational support.” What are your managers doing to let you know that your contributions are valued, and they care about your well-being?
  • How can companies create an organizational culture around gratitude? Aside from leadership buy-in and treating their employees well, what kinds of programs can help everyone participate in the many positives of gratitude? 


  • According to a study of more than 23,000 workers,when employees receive recognition for doing good work, 83% report a more positive employee experience. When workers don’t receive recognition, only 38% have a positive experience. – the Workhuman Analytics and Research Institute
  • Giving recognition is a moment of gratitude. Dr. Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis said, “Gratitude is the ultimate touchpoint of human existence … and the ultimate performance-enhancing substance.”
  • Establish a culture of gratitude. Business leaders should make space for gratitude in their workplaces and make it a consistent part of office interactions. 


Most forward-thinking executives agree that appreciation and recognition are integral to creating a positive employee experience. The importance of recognition is typically discussed from the perspective of the receiver of that positive reinforcement. Such as when workers excel on a project and a manager or co-worker gives them recognition. 

That appreciation gives the employee a boost and makes them want to repeat that behavior. This improves performance, morale, energy, and engagement. Positive reinforcement has the power to do that – especially when recognition is given frequently throughout the year.

But, it’s also important to understand that the act of giving recognition may be even more profound than the act of receiving. When you give an award and write a personal message describing how someone else’s work affected you, you are vulnerable and authentic in that moment, and cynicism is broken down. 

Practicing gratitude can affect how you think for the rest of the day. Giving gratitude requires you to take a step back, to think about how that activity or that performance affected you. That puts you in a different mindset.

And yet we are hesitant to show gratitude in our professional lives. A survey, conducted by the John Templeton Foundation, (which also funds an Expanding Gratitude project at UC Berkeley), shows that people are least likely to express gratitude in the workplace—despite feeling a desire to be thanked more often at work themselves.

We need to address whatever is holding us back from giving thanks in the workplace. Gratitude should be a central feature of every companies’ culture. Instead, we are less likely to give or receive appreciation in our workplaces—where we spend the majority of our waking hours—than anywhere else in our lives.

Sources:  Forbes, Forbes, Greater Good MagazineMcGraw Hill Business Blog

Photo by Morvanic Lee on Unsplash