Thanksgiving is the time of year when people are given a free pass to overindulge – in the name of gratitude. We sit around the table with family and friends and spend the day eating.* And eating. And more eating. Often before the first bite of food is taken, attendees are asked to take turns saying what they are thankful/grateful for. Responses usually range from “this food” to “my family/friends/health, etc.” It really depends on the family and their culture/traditions as to how “deep” the responses will be, or if the question will be asked at all. It’s the same for organizations. An organization’s culture will determine the extent to which gratitude is valued and practiced. Healthy, positive work environments will have gratitude and recognition as an integral part of their culture.
We hear a lot about how important it is to have an “attitude of gratitude.” Some people believe being grateful for and recognizing what you have (as opposed to focusing on what you don’t have) leads to you receiving more of the goodness the universe has to offer. Regardless of your belief system, the same holds true in the workplace. Being grateful for and recognizing what we have in our people results in better morale, productivity, engagement, retention, etc. In other words – all the goodness.
Formal recognition programs and web-based recognition platforms are great to have. They really are. But don’t let the lack of either be an excuse for not recognizing your people and showing them gratitude for sharing their unique talents and skill sets to benefit your organization. A simple, genuine “thank you” goes a long way. Another sometimes overlooked way to show gratitude is by investing in your people. Providing and encouraging professional development opportunities shows that you value and appreciate the people who work for you. This is important for every organization but it is vital in organizations that lack upward mobility/promotion potential. If you can’t recognize a person through a raise or promotion, at the very least, they should have other growth opportunities.
Don’t take people for granted and assume that because they show up every day, all is well. Tell people they’re doing a great job. Tell people you’re happy to have them working for you. Tell people you’re glad they chose your organization to work for. Say “good morning” when you pass people in the hallway. Treat people with respect. Always.
I know no one wants to think about work-y type stuff on a holiday. I get it. But when you’re back in the office, after you’ve filled your stomach to capacity, binge watched at least one show on Netflix and thought about what/who you’re grateful for in your personal life, remember that it’s just as important to show gratitude at work.
Be grateful for your work. I’m talking about beyond the basic “I’m just grateful to have a job.” Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been there before too. I’m not talking about that though. I’m talking about the thing that brings you joy that your job allows you to do. I get joy from helping others, so I remind myself to be grateful for the opportunities I have as an HR professional to help people. Whatever YOUR thing is, the thing that brings you joy at work, be grateful for that. Most importantly, show gratitude for the people you work with. To (very loosely) paraphrase Jay-Z, they could be at any job in the world that day, but they’re there with you. Appreciate it. GIVE THANKS.
BONUS: In case you needed more of a reason. Do it for your health.
*Author’s Note: I realize this is not everyone’s Thanksgiving experience. Please don’t take offense if it is not yours. Maybe you don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving. That’s cool too. The rest of the post will still be relevant to you. – TMR