Many people underestimate the benefits of being grateful in the workplace. Not only does being grateful help your team achieve a better, more positive mindset, but it also improves relationships, fosters feelings of closeness, increases motivation, and reduces stress.
Practicing gratitude is also a great way to connect with your team on a more personal and emotional level, which can ultimately lead to a more unified, bonded team.
With today’s reality of remote and hybrid working, it can be difficult to connect effectively and personally, which is why implementing certain practices into your weekly team meetings is so important.
One great way to connect with your team is through a gratitude practice, which I learned about from Erica Fox, the former Head of Learning Programs at Google. In her weekly, virtual team meetings, she would ask team members to share something they were grateful for from the previous week—it could be something work related or personal, as long as it was something that they genuinely felt grateful about.
She asked them not only to share this verbally with their teammates but also to write down what they were grateful for on a post-it note and stick it somewhere out of sight in their workspace (like inside a folder or drawer).
She thought it would be fun for them to find the post-it note again sometime later and be reminded of the positive thing they were grateful for that they shared with the team.
Erica noticed so many improvements to her team dynamic after beginning this practice.
The Benefits of Being Grateful at Work
Practicing gratitude is a fun way to set a nice tone for your team and your relationships with one another. It allows people to connect with each other in a more personal and positive way, even though they may not all be sitting in the same room together.
Some people on your team may be more into it than others, which is often the case for things like this. But as you make it a more common practice in how you engage with one another, you may just find that your team members will begin enjoying it.
In addition to creating a practice/routine of appreciation, one of the biggest benefits of being grateful is that it allows your team to share more about themselves with each other, which ultimately leads to more openness, vulnerability, and psychological safety within the team. And these things lead to better work results.
As this practice becomes more common in your team meetings, people will slowly become more comfortable with it, leading to closer connections and celebrations of one another.
These types of activities and practices can improve teams.
Practicing gratitude makes a difference in more ways than you may think. A research article published by the University of Michigan in The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science found that a workplace characterized by positive practices similar to the practice of gratitude can help people excel in a variety of ways.
The main reasons these types of practices benefit teams and companies include:
Increased positive emotions
Practicing gratitude can improve peoples’ relationships with their colleagues and amplify their creativity, which can increase employee engagement, enhance job satisfaction, improve communication, and ultimately lead to a better, more positive work environment.
Ability to buffer against negative events
Gratitude can help employees buffer against negative events like stress or failure, improving people’s ability to bounce back from challenges. Gratitude encourages people to focus on the positive aspects of even challenging situations. It builds resilience so employees are better equipped to overcome difficulties.
Attract and bolster employees
Practicing regular gratitude with your team brings out the best in employees. It helps them feel more connected with their organization. It also builds trust between employees and leaders and makes employees feel appreciated.
Your bottom line
Believe it or not, these types of practices can also benefit your bottom line and lead to higher performance. According to the above study, “When organizations institute positive, virtuous practices they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness—including financial performance, customer satisfaction, and productivity.”
If you’re not practicing gratitude at work, it might be time to do so. Not only will it help create a more positive mindset among team members, but it will also build trust and foster deeper, more personal connections.
What can you do to bring more gratitude to your work and your team? Share your thoughts or questions below in the comments.
This is an excerpt from Bring Your Whole Self to Work, by Mike Robbins, with permission. Published by Hay House (May 2018) and available online or in bookstores.
This article was originally published in 2018 and updated for 2023.