work culture

Building a Work Culture of Gratitude

I wake up every day feeling one thing above all others: thankful.

While I’ve seen my share of ups and downs, just as we all have, I’ve been incredibly blessed in my life. I have a successful company, a beautiful family and the privilege of getting to do what I love every single day: help people connect.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday here in the States, people often take time to reflect on the things we’re thankful for. But I strongly believe that gratitude should permeate your organization’s culture year-round, not simply around the holidays. Over the years of building companies and teams, I’ve learned the importance and challenges of nurturing a culture of gratitude and the benefits that organizations, teams and employees all experience as a result.

Thanking Those Around You

As with almost any work initiative, creating a work culture of gratitude has to start from the top. Managers, Directors, VPs—I’m talking to you. Go out of your way to show your employees how thankful you are for their contributions, their hard work, their ideas and their time. It’s not just about recognizing the good job they did on that spreadsheet or slide deck. Rather, it’s about recognizing them as individuals, the difference they make in your organization, and helping them feel appreciated for their whole selves, not just their work selves.

It starts simply enough, by taking the time to publically recognize an individual’s workplace achievement or positive attitude. But those little efforts are the sparks that will eventually lead to a cultural shift away from negativity and grinding out work and toward positivity, gratitude and happiness-fueled productivity.

Adjusting Culture to the Modern Workplace

Some of you may have already cultivated a positive, thankful work culture in your organization, and if so, kudos! However, you have to be prepared to adapt this culture to the shifting work paradigms of flexible, remote and teleworkers. As teams become increasingly dispersed and technology allows organizations to extend their reach globally, both in terms of operation and talent acquisition, it’s easy for these remote workers to feel left out of the overall company culture.

Extend your cultural initiatives into your virtual workplace just as much as your physical one. Live-stream company events through webcasts in order to include everyone, not just the people in the building. Have virtual team-building events, birthday parties and team meetings through online meeting tools. These are simple practices, but are often overlooked in the excitement of these kinds of events.

Let technology tear down siloes rather than create them.

The Business Benefits of a Gracious Culture

Ultimately, all of the work you put into creating a positive, gracious culture within your organization is done with a singular goal in mind: happier workers. There have been a lot of studies done over the years about the benefits of happy employees; their impact on both the individual and the organization as a whole is simply staggering. Gallup once estimated the productivity loss due to unhappy employees at a staggering $300 billion a year. Happiness also has a profound effect on business growth. For example, the revenues for 100 companies in the 2014 Fortune List of 100 Best Companies to Work For increased by an average of 22.2% in 2014. And they added employees at a rate five times higher than the national average.

It’s clear that nurturing a work culture of gratitude isn’t simply the right thing to do from a morale standpoint—it has measureable impact on the performance of your workers and, as a result, your entire organization.

Don’t let gratitude just be top-of-mind once a year.


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