You might not believe this, but there’s nowhere better than your workplace to feel motivated, improve your well-being, and reduce stress.

All it takes is an effort to show gratitude.

Showing gratitude in the workplace is contagious, and if everyone gets in on it, it can “encourage a continuous cycle of recognition” that spreads positivity and improves growth.  

Of course, changing your workplace’s culture doesn’t happen overnight—it all starts with the individual. Whether you’re a manager or an employee, here are 5 ways you can become the example of showing gratitude:

1. Always Make It Specific

Showing gratitude doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated—what matters most is expressing the reason why.

Next time someone deserves praise, tell them exactly what they did right and how it brings value to the workplace.

A generic “thank you” is better than nothing, but a specific reason lets them know what they should keep doing more of.

This goes double for notes and emails where body language and intonation is lost. An email without the specifics can come across as generic and uninspired.

2. Keep It Consistent

When the work gets tough, no one is more deserving of praise than those who show up and give it their all.

Likewise, committing to the daily grind requires monumental effort. To prevent your team members from feeling expendable, making it a habit to show your gratitude.

  • Keep an eye on coworkers and thank them when they do things properly
  • Make special mention for the “little” tasks that often go overlooked
  • Keep customers engaged with exclusive offers and event invitations—not just when you’re afraid of losing them

3. Send Thank You Notes

Who doesn’t like a personalized thank you note? Their application goes well beyond the classic “thank you for the interview.”

A well-timed and carefully crafted thank you note is effective in any occasion:

  • Craft a “we miss you” email with a generous offer to win back a jaded customer
  • Send a sincere thank you email not just to the individual, but to their manager or boss—spread the recognition
  • Leave a handwritten thank you note on the desk of someone who went out of their way to help you

4. Foster a Culture of Recognition

Showing gratitude in a stuffy work environment can somehow feel wrong or unnecessary. That can change, but it has to start from the top.

Energage notes that bosses and managers “set the tone” for the work environment. “They need to make showing appreciation a priority and them demonstrate it.”

Gratitude can flourish in a workplace that provides avenues for recognition, such as:

  • A message board or Slack channel where employees can call out others for a job-well-done
  • Programs, events, or award-ceremonies that highlight the achievements of an individual
  • Traditions like picnics, holiday parties, or even a weekly treat (Taco Tuesday, anyone?)

5. Understand What Employees Really Want

Saying “thank you” isn’t the only way to show gratitude. For employees, being given what they really want can be the most rewarding form of gratitude.

And we’re not just talking about pay increases. The American Institute of Certified Public Accounts found that 80% of respondents would rather take less pay and more benefits than 30% more pay and zero benefits.

Likewise, managers and bosses can work with their team members on an individual basis to find out what really drives them. Then, they should do good on it by advocating for their needs.