Seven Ways Gratitude Makes Work Better

November 14, 2018 — Written by Molly Sands PhD

HumuTeam

I won’t lie, November hasn’t been the easiest. I recently moved across country, the midterm elections were a stress-fest, and you know how you felt waking up to the news of yet another mass shooting or wildfire. Sadness, resentment, and frustration have knocked on my door.

But I’m practicing gratitude. I got to move across country with my husband and dog for a new job I love and am now closer to my family than ever. The Democrats took back the House. And the acts of valor of the survivors who saved friends and loved ones at the Borderline Bar & Grill and California’s firefighters are incredible—I’m grateful for that.

Gratitude is something I try to make room for everyday, but especially this time of year. It’s also something Humu focuses a lot of energy on in the workplace. At team lunches and weekly all-hands meetings, expressions of gratitude—big and small—are the norm.

Fitting for a team with a mission to make work better.

Personally, my academic background is in affective science (the study of emotion), and as a member of Humu’s People Science team, I apply emotion research in the workplace using micro interventions—which we call nudges—to increase happiness at work.

Gratitude is a powerful emotion—experiencing and expressing it in the workplace is impactful, and the time investment needed to reap the benefits is minimal. In this post, I’ll lay out seven research-backed benefits of gratitude at work that I’ve seen over the years—and that might just get you in the mood before the big day.

1. Gratitude makes you happier. Gratitude is one of the keys to a more fulfilled life—it increases positive emotions, enhances positive memories and promotes emotional well being. Positive emotions enhance development and result in more effective employees and stronger organizations.

2. Gratitude makes you a better colleague. Grateful people are more likely to engage in workplace activities outside their formal role that benefit colleagues —that means coworkers that are more willing to cover a shift, help with difficult customers and listen compassionately when problems arise—all things that make work better!

3. Gratitude increases job satisfaction. Research suggests that people who experience more workplace gratitude—which includes gratitude for coworkers, supervisors, clients, and the job itself—have higher levels of job satisfaction. Even feeling grateful for a few minutes (which you can trigger by sending a thank you email or just reflecting on aspects of your job you love) has been shown to up satisfaction.

4. Gratitude helps you reach your goals. Goal attainment is important for well being and long term development, especially at work. When people kept a gratitude journal, researchers found that they were more likely to attain their goals over a ten-week period.

5. Gratitude reduces stress. Grateful individuals experience less stress. Research suggests that routinely feeling grateful increases the social support we receive from others which reduces stress and protects us from many of its negative effects.

6. Gratitude strengthens relationships. Gratitude can create stronger relationships with coworkers, acquaintances, friends and romantic partners. Most of us want to reciprocate when someone does something nice, but the effects of gratitude go beyond returning the favor—gratitude also increases socially inclusive and prosocial behaviors.

7. Gratitude improves physical health. Not only is gratitude associated with all these positive social and emotional outcomes but it’s also linked to better physical health. In part because gratitude promotes healthy behaviors like better sleep, nutrition and physical activity. And at this time of year, I could use the extra health benefits, while I’m feeling grateful for that extra piece of pie.

So, what am I doing to unlock the benefits of gratitude in my own life? For me, the secret of thankfulness is in its expediency: gratitude only takes a few minutes or even seconds to unlock its power, whether it’s an expression of thanks or just the tiniest of mindset shifts.

This holiday season, I’m starting each week with the practice. Monday mornings are for appreciation—a note to a friend, coffee and thanks for a colleague or a reflective walk in a beautiful place with my dog.

Today I’m grateful to you. Thank you for reading!

If you want to learn more about gratitude, nudges, or how Humu drives powerful behavioral change in workplaces, drop us a line here.

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