Gratitude in the Workplace

by Faye D. Fischer

Thanksgiving is here! Hopefully you can find a little quiet time for reflection in the whirlwind of the holiday and focus on all there is to be grateful for. I notice that I always feel a little bit better when I think about what I have instead of what I don’t. Research on gratitude is still in its infancy, but according to the Mayo Clinic, “Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood, and immunity. Gratitude can also decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain, and risk of disease.” A dose of gratitude is worth a try.

One of the things on my grateful list is my job. I’m so thankful to be a part of the library world and see the great work that is happening across our state. But do I actually take the time to show my gratitude at work? How can a grateful mindset help me in the office?  

A 2017 article entitled “How Gratitude Can Transform Your Workplace,” talks about the powerful influence of thankfulness at work and the way that simple gratitude can revolutionize the traditional workplace. The article discusses appreciation and gratitude as gradients, building on one another.  I was motivated by the author’s definition of these two terms:

“Researchers define appreciation as the act of acknowledging the goodness in life—in other words, seeing the positives in events, experiences, or other people (like our colleagues). Gratitude goes a step further: It recognizes how the positive things in our lives—like a success at work—are often due to forces outside of ourselves, particularly the efforts of other people.”

In reflection I recognize that I am relatively good at showing appreciation, but do I elevate that appreciation to the level of recognizing how much my success is determined by my coworkers? I am determined to list all the support I receive when working on projects and make sure I acknowledge all the people whose work is foundational to my achievement. This is just one way to show gratitude at work. There are many ways you could implement gratitude in your work, and many programs for helping employees feel comfortable expressing and receiving gratitude at work.

The article outlines four keys to creating a gratitude focus in the workplace. 1) The author encourages us to remember that gratitude is about the whole person. Instead of celebrating what your employees do, celebrate who they are and how that makes your library a better place. 2) Remember that not everyone expresses gratitude in the same way. Try many different initiatives and make it personal.  3) It has to come from the top. Model behaviors for your staff and allow time for gratitude in the work day. 4) And finally, make it a part of you culture. Build it into the structure of your organization. 

I want to return to the two words “simple” and “revolutionary.” Practicing/implanting practices that encourage thankfulness at work are low risk and low effort with an exponential reward. If you are looking for radical change with your staff, or even your own job satisfaction, start with gratitude.

Kira M. Newman. (2017, September 6). How gratitude can transform your workplace. Greater Good. Retrieved November 23, 2022, from