November 22, 2021
Nearly every organization struggles with questions of how best to engage and retain personnel, and it's rare to find a one-size-fits-all solution to motivate staff and maintain morale. Of course, while the ironfisted approach may make for a riveting season of Billions, most organizations are likely to reap more rewards both immediate and lasting through cultivating a culture of gratitude.
This idea may seem obvious after all, as the adage goes, you're likely to catch more flies with honey than vinegar. But recent research has shown that rooting your culture in true gratitude for workers and the work they do tends to benefit the organization from the bottom up.
Gratitude helps cultures, companies, and individuals.
Reassessing the culture of your organization may be of crucial importance right now, as the phenomenon analysts call 'The Great Resignation' is spiraling from the United States into a global phenomenon.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some 55% of Americans many of them mid-career are looking for new employment, and 41% of workers globally are considering quitting and/or changing jobs. For a lot of workers, company culture is driving their decision to leave.
It�s not news to that appreciation and acknowledgement of employee efforts is key to retention; after all, employee recognition is a key function of most HR departments. However, recognition does not always equal gratitude.
We perform better when our efforts are acknowledged, but what happens if those efforts do not feel truly appreciated? We disengage, and our loyalties are tested. Numerous studies have shown that high-pressure environments lead to greater healthcare expenditures, decreased productivity, increases in workplace accidents, and higher rates of employee turnover.
Gratitude can be a somewhat slippery concept, but we tend know it when we feel it. Most importantly, it�s the feeling of being valued and seen. It's the feeling of recognizing the ways others elevate us, a feeling of social connection and engagement. And without gratitude, we begin to seek greener pastures.
Organizationally, studies show that practices of gratitude have myriad benefits that impact personality, physical health, and career, including:
Perhaps best of all, gratitude has been shown to change the neural structures in the brain for the better. Research conducted by UCLA's Mindfulness Awareness Research Center indicates that practicing gratitude not only increases feelings of happiness and contentment, but does so in part by triggering beneficial hormonal activity, increasing immune responses, and increasing neuroplasticity. Gratitude, it seems, literally helps us to adapt better to change.
However, these benefits don't appear overnight. Lasting change takes time and effort.
What's more, these practices need to be done realistically and in earnest to avoid a slide into 'toxic positivity' or relying on behaviors that refuse to acknowledge the negative in pursuit of the positive.
Simply putting on a happy face without addressing root causes of conflict or tension does nothing to fix those problems. Regulating emotion through suppression has been shown to have negative effects on mental and physical well-being.
So how can you cultivate gratitude practice in your own life and in your own teams? Practices will vary from person to person what works well for you may be less effective for another. The key is to find the practices that work for you. Then encourage your team members to find the practices that elevate them.
While you check out some resources for expanding your personal and organizational gratitude practices, here are some suggestions of ways you can get started today.
Most importantly, whatever practices you decide to incorporate, don't wait to begin to build gratitude practices into your personal life as well as your professional life. The gratitude you cultivate today can lead to bounteous harvest in the future for you and your organization.
Every person and every workplace is different. As a result, tailored solutions are often the ticket to successfully fostering a culture of gratitude in your organization.
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Based in Baltimore, MD, author Rahne Alexander learned the importance of organizational gratitude via 25 years of work in arts nonprofit management.