Seven meaningful ways to express gratitude at work

Seven meaningful ways to express gratitude at work

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease, companies and organisations are encouraging employees to go back to the office.

This can be a challenging process for many of us, especially after two years of being apart from each other.

In a recent McKinsey study of more than 2,900 people, one-third of those who had recently returned to the office said going back had negatively impacted their mental health. While those who haven’t already returned to the office, may worry that they aren’t prepared for the emotional transition.

It has become apparent that building a culture of wellbeing and resilience at work is more important than ever before. And, while it might be true that building positivity and resilience across an organisation requires time and investment, it is also important to understand that daily small actions – like expressing gratitude - can go a long way to  creating a kind, inclusive environment.

As noted by Harvard Health, positive psychology research suggests that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater wellbeing. There is a wealth of supporting evidence available on the benefits of gratitude to our mood, outlook, health, relationships, and our ability to face adversity. It’s actually been shown to reduce our cortisol levels (stress hormone) by 23%.

So, what can we do to start building gratitude habits?

How to express gratitude in the workplace

We now know that expressing gratitude is an important part of an organisation’s wellbeing culture. It is a way to show appreciation for the work that people do and it helps to build a sense of community and belonging.

When we pay attention to our emotions and surroundings, and we appreciate what we have, we are more likely to realise the full worth of something or someone. And, when we express gratitude to another person, both people experience more positive emotions as feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine are released in our brains and bodies.  This is one of the best gifts we can give!

A simple thank you can go a long way in the workplace. It can make someone feel valued and appreciated. When it comes to expressing gratitude in the workplace, there are many ways that you can do so, our personal favourite is to send a gratitude card to a co-worker!

1. Say a kind word.

2. Include others in your plans.

3. Listen intently.

4. Pay an impromptu visit.

5. Message to check-in.

6. Offer to do something for someone.

7. Send a gratitude card.

We all may enjoy the benefits of gratitude in our own way. We invite you to ask yourself what would be more meaningful to you and the recipient. You may find ways to thank someone individually or thank them in general at the end of the day with an email or memo. You can also thank people when they help with something big or small by giving them a shout out in front of their peers.

How to write a gratitude letter

The practise of writing a gratitude card need not be complicated. You may like focus your attention by closing your laptop, putting the phone away and pulling out a piece of paper and a pen and say thank you to someone who deserves your praise. Be specific about why you’re grateful. You can choose to send the letter or keep if for yourself – the act of simply articulating your thanks will generate positive emotions for you and therefore benefit your wellbeing.

In the workplace, an alternative to the handwritten letter could be a simple thank you email or providing positive feedback to peers in daily conversations. Gallop research suggests that recognition is a powerful determinant for employee engagement and retention. And according to Waters (2012), gratitude predicates job satisfaction by 24.8%. It can be easy to overlook the good, but when we do pay attention and acknowledge it, we all benefit, and the business does too.

Writing a gratitude letter is one of the impactful activities we undertake in the Gratitude segment of the Oranges program. This is an activity that is typically delivered as part of our Seven Segments of Wellbeing ORANGES workshops. covering Optimism, Resilience, Attitude, Now, Gratitude, Energy and Strengths. Now, we offer Gratitude Cards so that you are ready to show express the powerful emotion of gratitude at any time!

A gratitude card example

This is an example of an expressive gratitude letter that one of our facilitators, Gina Brooks, received after a two-day workshop program.

Seek help when it's needed

The Oranges Toolkit offers a range of science-based workplace wellbeing programs focusing on practical actions you can take to build resilience, energy, and emotional agility.

Remember there is help all around. If you or someone you know needs extra support, we recommend contacting your workplace Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a qualified health practitioner, or:

- Lifeline: 13 11 14

- Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

- Visit Head to Health for a directory of mental health care providers and COVID-19 support

If you have any questions about our products and services, please contact us.

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