How gratitude can lead to happier, healthier and more successful teams.

We (hopefully) all understand that feeling valued and appreciated will lift morale amongst teams. There is also evidence of clear business benefit:

Partners in Leadership discovered that amongst happy workers 85% say they take more initiative, 73% are better collaborators and nearly half have higher engagement and care more about their work.’

The ticket to this higher level of engagement is very simply, gratitude.

Why gratitude is so important today

Businesses can face challenges in maintaining strong morale at the best of times. Following all of the change and upheaval over the past 18 months, team dynamics, employee motivation and wellness should be higher on our agendas than ever before.  There is very much an air of wanting to find things to celebrate – and we’re all for it!

What’s more, an evolving workplace brings new expectations and demands as the next generation of employees may have different styles and preferences.

Managing the millennial generation

There is no better approach to management than having individual relationships and truly understanding your people. Having said that, there are some trends that apply to the current workforce that are worth taking into account.

Millennials now comprise over 50% of UK workers (this is often higher in customer service teams), a figure which is rapidly rising. This is important as the Institute of Leadership and Management recently uncovered a disconnect between millennial teams and their older colleagues. This stated attitudinal differences around flexibility, recognising achievement, ethics and approaches to management.

Couple these expectations with the shifts we’ve experienced since the pandemic, where some colleagues may have become more isolated from their teams. All in all, there is clearly a heightened challenge for management to engage people and build a strong sense of togetherness within teams.

Gaining 7 more years life expectancy!

The science behind gratitude has long been known but is still rarely practised in the workplace.

Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude says, “Expressing what we are thankful for has many benefits including feeling less stressed, improved sleep, fewer physical problems, less regular visits to the doctor and longer lives.” (Emmons & McCullough, 2004) Emmons research suggests that regular displays of gratitude can increase life expectancy by seven years on average.

Deep down, we know this instinctively. Parents try to instil a sense of gratitude amongst children every day. Yet as adults in a working environment it is often overlooked.

“I’d like to speak to the manager, please.”

When did we become so conditioned to deliver and expect complaints? Here at The WOW! Awards we believe there is a huge element of ‘be careful what you ask for’ here.

No doubt there is value in providing clear and proactive routes for customers to express their issues and to get them resolved. In fact, we know this can often lead to the most positive outcomes. However, it’s clear to us that if you believe that engaged employees are the real route to success (and it’s true!) why not invest as much effort in soliciting positive feedback?

The bottom line – happier, healthier and more successful teams

At The WOW! Awards, we’ve been running recognition programmes for over 20 years and have seen first-hand the impact that gratitude can have on employees and businesses.

Along with improved morale comes reduced sickness and churn, improved team working, greater creativity, improved service, improved sales and a better bottom line.

Gratitude is a no brainer!

Four golden rules of gratitude in the workplace

It has to be sincere

Don’t fake it. But don’t miss out on easy opportunities either. Recognising your team at the end of a tough week is easy to do and will always be appreciated.

Deliver it properly

Involve senior management. Look for opportunities to praise people in front of their peers, to explain why this is good for your customers.

Explain what good looks like

This is a perfect opportunity to show what good looks like with real life examples. Align gratitude with your values to encourage more of the positive behaviour that you’re looking for.

Recognition beats reward

Don’t feel that you need to add another element of reward to your recognition. A sincere and well delivered, “Thank you,” is much easier to give and will be much more effective than a hastily given prize. See the recommended reading in our ‘employee recognition book club’ blog post for more about the psychology of recognition versus reward.

Don’t forget to celebrate World Gratitude Day on September 21st!

World Gratitude Day is just one day every year. Truly great organisations practice giving gratitude every single day of the year! As you can see, it costs nothing and has huge benefits.