The season for giving thanks and expressing gratitude – to our vendors, customers, and most importantly our employees – has commenced. There are many ways that employers can cultivate a culture of gratitude and giving thanks in the workplace not only around Thanksgiving, but throughout the year.
Showing Gratitude at the Holidays
The holidays are an ideal time to show gratitude to your employees and provide a number of opportunities for us to express our appreciation. Here are some ideas for showing gratitude around the holidays:
- Create hand-written holiday cards of appreciation to employees, ideally from supervisors or leaders in the organization.
- Personally call or visit each employee between now and the end of the year to thank and acknowledge them for their specific and unique contributions this year.
- Some organizations provide holiday gifts to their employees. For example, some NorthCoast 99 winners provide employees with a turkey for Thanksgiving. Others give employees personalized gifts.
- Use time off as a way to say “thanks.” Use this season as an opportunity to allow employees to attend a child’s school event, leave work early to take care of some holiday errands, or provide an extra day off to celebrate the holidays. Be understanding with weather circumstances that will affect your employees.
- Have a luncheon, gathering, or holiday party with your employees.
- One of the best ways to show your gratitude is by giving back. Donate to those in need or coordinate a community service activity for employees. For other ideas on community efforts, download our recent survey results.
Building a Culture of Gratitude
Does your organization have a culture of gratitude? Each day there are countless opportunities to show gratitude to others in the workplace. Supervisors, leaders, and coworkers can all help build a culture of gratitude by acknowledging the contributions of those around them in specific and genuine ways. Here are some ways to foster gratitude in the workplace:
- Formal recognition programs are a common way employers build a culture of gratitude in the workplace. Formal annual, quarterly, monthly, or even weekly awards can help build a culture of recognizing the behaviors and results your organization seeks.
- Having a method of peer recognition is important in developing appreciation among coworkers. Create a program or initiative that encourages peers to recognize and thank one another for their help.
- On-the-spot rewards and recognition allow employees to be recognized at any time by supervisors, management, or even peers through some small reward, such as a gift card, ticket to local event, or other valued recognition. Spontaneous rewards and recognition can be welcome surprises for employees.
- While your organization may have recognition programs in place, if your supervisors and managers are not using them, they likely won’t be effective in helping to drive a culture of gratitude. Many organizations train their management staff on the importance of recognizing employees and how to use the tools and programs provided by the organization.
- Making celebrations a part of your organization’s activities is another way to build a culture of gratitude – as well as fun and enjoyment. Coordinate a few celebrations throughout the year to show appreciation to your whole staff. Some organizations even go so far as to celebrate personal events like birthdays, weddings, and births.
- Although it sounds simple, many workplaces forget to say thank you – especially to their most valuable assets: top performers. Saying thank you via email, phone call, voice-message, card, e-card, or in-person, or taking an employee out for coffee or lunch to say “thanks” can be very meaningful.
- When developing a culture of gratitude, remember that formal programs are only part of the equation. It’s equally as important to create new habits, expectations, and norms throughout the organization to develop a culture of gratitude – and this typically starts at the top. Encourage leaders and managers to lead the way in thanking an employee each time they do something exceptional or of assistance to them, and to post or communicate successes publicly – through newsletters, interoffice mail or email, on bulletin boards, and at department or staff meetings.
A culture of gratitude can change your workplace into a positive, uplifting, and collaborative environment – eliciting more enthusiasm, engagement, and positive relationships. Use the weeks ahead to plan a strategy to make your workplace one in which giving thanks happens year-round.
- Benchmark your organization’s paid holidays and holiday practices by participating in ERC’s surveys: 2011 ERC Paid Holiday Survey and ERC Holiday Practices Survey.
- For a guide to creating effective reward and recognition programs, download our 2010 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report.
- For assistance in creating a rewards and recognition program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.