A recent Gallup survey shows that 62% of employees report feeling underappreciated in their jobs. That is a devastating statistic, which indicates the disengagement these people might experience, resulting in 37% higher absenteeism, 37% lower job growth, and 60% more errors and defects. Gallup Healthways Index has been steadily polling adults since 2008 to determine causes of less productivity. Most employees shared that it has something to do with feeling undervalued by their managers. If you are looking for a number that this translates into, then it is a staggering $300 billion that America loses annually.
The first thing that may pop up in your mind on reading the above is that we need better employee engagement and welfare plans. That might be true. But we are offering a simpler solution to this challenge: a gratitude practice at work.
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means graciousness or gratefulness. It is appreciation and acknowledgement for what we receive, whether tangible or intangible. Envision it like a state of mind which you can tune into, like a radio channel. Tons of research in the field of positive psychology equates feeling grateful with feeling happy. And what does that have to do with our workplace? In a nutshell, happier people work better.
Since we intend to inspire you to adopt a gratitude practice, here is some insight into the impact gratitude can have at our workplaces.
- Increases people’s determination. Though you might be well aware of what happens when someone appreciates you for a task you accomplish, Wharton University did some research on this experience. They randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group received a pep talk from the director, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts and shared data about how their fundraising has helped the university. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not. Isn’t that phenomenal?
- Strengthens relationships. We know much about how camaraderie in the workplace can lead to greater job satisfaction, commitment to the organization, and doing a job well. A powerful way of cultivating such strong relationships is by continually sharing what we celebrate in the other person. It enables us to easily see strengths in others and focus on them when we hit roadblocks. As managers, finding something to be grateful about each of your team members, can really create an authentic and complementary relationship.
- Helps reduce burnout. The journal of experimental psychology conducted a study on 96 school teachers in China, to examine the impact of an 8-week long intervention of being thankful to each other, and their students. They found a significant increase in the teachers’ experience of worthiness in life and happiness. There was also a marked decrease in two indicators across the entire sample – emotional exhaustion and lack of connection with self. A key factor that contributes to burnout is the emotional drain and a steady lack of energy. The practice of gratitude certainly addresses one of them right away!
- Makes employees better at paying it forward. Studies by Northeastern University have proved how people who had help in challenging times were more likely to help others, because they felt grateful to have had support when they needed it most. Moreover, employees who felt grateful for their work, were more tuned into how they could help impact larger societal issues. Their sense of responsibility increased.
If all employees experience reduced work stress, have better relationships with colleagues, feel strong willed about their work, and contribute beyond their roles, wouldn’t it pretty much solve the riddle of employee engagement? What do you think?