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Transforming Your Office Culture with the Power of Gratitude

Experts from around the world, from psychologists to researchers and behavioural scientists agree: showing and receiving gratitude is a powerful catalyst for improved mental and emotional health, better stress management, and healthier relationships with others. Acts of gratitude, in particular, have been shown to encourage better prosocial behaviours and a better office culture.

Taken in the context of today’s challenging and highly stressful work environments where there has been a rise in inter-employee tensions and workplace mistreatment, making gratitude a pillar of your office environment is one of the most efficient and effective ways to boost employee wellness, satisfaction, and performance. When applied intentionally and consistently, gratitude practices can transform the average workplace into a driver of employee health, wellbeing, and positivity.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when tapping into the power of gratitude in the office:

1. Make a Conscious Effort to Thank Individuals… Without Shaming Others

Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh Jack is so considerate and courteous… Emily, you should be more like him!” or something similar? How do you think either Emily or Jack would feel? Emily is unlikely to appreciate such a comment, veracity notwithstanding. And Jack, instead of being able to receive the words of gratitude, may instead find the situation awkward and uncomfortable.

It may seem like a minor, offhand comment but imagine if this situation recurs consistently, especially by a senior colleague or supervisor. It may end up promoting feelings of resentment, jealousy, and shame within the team instead, which would be unproductive and antithetical to a collaborative and positive work environment.

When done without thought and consideration, the best intentions can go wrong.

2. Show Gratitude to Inspire Gratitude

According to Harvard Business Review, people who were thanked for their actions are twice as likely to offer their help in the future! On the flipside, people who were not thanked for their help—even for actions seen as part of their “job”—are far less likely to voluntarily offer their aid in the future.

Imagine a workplace where colleagues are reluctant to offer help to one another!

Even small acts of gratitude, such as thank you emails, appreciative messages, and personally written notes, go a long way. They are also a great place to start if you are on the shy side of the spectrum!

Moreover, gratitude can directly reduce the propensity for workplace mistreatment, gossip, and other anti-social behaviours at the office; people are far less likely to badmouth colleagues who give them thank-you notes. This goes a long way towards building a more positive work environment.

It thus takes one leader to champion gratitude at the workplace to start inspiring others to do the same; will you be that champion?

3. Culture Takes Time to Change

It takes a while to get into the habit of making gratitude part of your everyday; at PEPWorldwide Asia, we know that it takes a bare minimum of 21 days to cultivate a new habit. For some individuals, depending on how regular the habit is or big the change, it may take up to 60 days or even more.

You can thus imagine how long it might take to make gratitude part of the working culture of an entire office and, by extension, an entire company.

As leaders, it is thus up to you to take the leap and start the charge, while keeping in mind that change and transformation takes time.

The past few years have been highly stressful for everyone, and this is evident from the spike in poor work behaviours, workplace tensions, and drops in employee satisfaction in some organizations. Gratitude, as both a concept and in practice, has been shown to be a powerful, practical, and under-utilised remedy for leaders to harness the full potential of their employees in a positive and healthy way.

And it all can start with a simple thank you email.

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