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4 minute read

How to Create a Happier Workplace Filled With Gratitude

Research has shown that gratitude is linked to happiness, better physical and mental health, as well as higher job satisfaction.

Your employees are vital to your organisation’s success. Research has also shown that employees’ job satisfaction determines an organisation’s performance. So, how can employers show appreciation to keep their staff happy?

The answer may lie in gratitude.

The simple act of gratitude can go a long way in motivating employees and making them happier. Most of us can recall the exhilaration we feel when our colleagues appreciate our work or when our superiors give us a pat on the back. Those little moments might give you the much-needed mental boost to continue beavering at your problems. 

The transformative power of gratitude

Some employers like hotel chain YOTEL Singapore believe in acknowledging their staff’s efforts. Ms Jillian Cheong, the hotel’s director of human resources shared that the hotel  gives the staff goodie bags as a reward to recognise their hard work during peak periods.

Explaining their rationale, she said:“It is with staff recognition that employees will feel a sense of appreciation, and be motivated to take pride and ownership of their work.”

Scientifically, gratitude is defined as “the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself.”

There are two components to gratitude, according to Dr. Robert Emmons, a scientific expert on gratitude. He explains that the first component is recognising the good in our lives. While the second one is about giving people credit for the goodness in our lives. 

So far, research has demonstrated that gratitude has a myriad of benefits. These range from making you happier, healthier and more resistant to stress to strengthening your relationships. Besides that, gratitude also motivates you to be more helpful and compassionate. 

From an organisational perspective, gratitude has been shown to increase job satisfaction and raise employee productivity and efficiency.  

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Cultivating a more grateful workplace

Given the many benefits of gratitude, it is important for employers to start fostering a more grateful workplace through the following ways. 

The Greater Good Science Centre at the Berkeley University of California suggests that senior management lead by example by consistently showing appreciation to their staff.

This can be done in senior leaders’ internal communications, during performance appraisals or even staff meetings where staff have an opportunity to thank the people who have helped them. 

For Ms Lai Pee Ping, the Vice President of Human Resources for Toyota Tsusho Asia Pacific Singapore, showing her appreciation means granting one of her staff’s wishes such as organising a business trip or letting them join a project that they want to be part of. Another way is by surprising her staff with their favourite food or drinks.

“Different strokes work for different people,” Ms Lai shares. However, her experience shows that the two aforementioned ways work most of the time. 

Read Also: How Should You Show Appreciation for Your Workers?

Some detractors may think that saying thanks may result in platitudes which may seem forced or fake. The key to showing genuine gratitude is being thankful to the recipient for being who they are instead of what they do. When thanking someone, be specific about what you are thanking them for – this shows that you are truly paying attention to them.

To imbue the organisational culture with gratitude, all the staff needs to practice it consistently. For instance, the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) started a programme that aimed to foster “love, growth and gratitude” in the workplace. As part of the programme, their staff had to do a daily gratitude sharing for one week where they recorded the things that they were grateful for.

According to SKM’s General Secretary Dr. William Wan, the activity helped their staff develop a positive mindset that prepares them to meet the challenges in their lives. At the same time, it was an opportunity for staff from different departments to get to know each other better, amid the hustle and bustle of work.  

Most of the time, organisations tend to highlight the achievements of the high-profile staff. However, staff who do their job behind the scenes deserve a pat on their backs too. These include the administrative staff who work in the hospitals, the cleaners and more.

One good example is Capitaland Singapore. The company created a special “thank you” page dedicated to their support staff. Customers and fellow colleagues can write their well wishes and show their gratitude to the cleaners, security guards, technicians and more. 

Gratitude fosters a positive and warm environment for all. If employers truly want their employees to perform their best, they in turn, must create the best environment for employees to excel. Employers can start by nurturing a culture of gratitude in the workplace.   

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