A little appreciation goes a long way.
There are two words that your employees are waiting to hear, and surprisingly it not necessarily “pay raise.” When was the last time any of us stopped to express an authentic “thank you” to a colleague, employee or our boss?
I travel the country to Fortune 500 companies, associations and hospital systems discussing the brain science behind mindfulness in stress management and employee productivity. Gratitude is the foundation for having a calm and happy brain that translates to a calm and happy workplace.
According to a 2013 study performed by the John Templeton Foundation, employees felt that bosses who regularly expressed gratitude were more likely to succeed. Unfortunately, 60% of employees stated they heard expressions of gratitude from a supervisor or manager once per year or never at all. In this study, survey respondents stated that they would forgo a pay raise or bonus during troubled economic times in lieu of genuine gratitude.
The Center for Disease control reports that up to 80% of all doctors office visits are due to stress-based illnesses. Examples of symptoms that arise from high levels of stress are headaches, heartburn, insomnia, and chronic pain. I hear the same story teaching corporate clients; employees give me long lists of symptoms that have arisen or gotten worse when they feel stressed out or unhappy at work.
Is it possible to transform a toxic workplace into one that is happy and productive? Employee engagement and satisfaction may be easier to raise without deep spending on increased salaries and bonuses.
Do your employees know that you value them? Sure we stop to say, “thank you” on Administrative Assistants Day or remember to share best wishes on Birthdays. The challenge in relationships, whether personal or professional, is to be present and show gratitude regularly.
Scientific studies based in positive psychology show that people who are grateful lead happy lives. The same data translates to employees and successful marriages. When an employer expresses gratitude, they are more likely to have happier, healthier and more productive employees. When spouses regularly express gratitude, they are more likely to have happy and sustaining marriages.
I challenge everyone reading this article to stop and think of someone important to you in your life- your partner, employee, or colleague. Expressing gratitude doesn’t have to equate to spending a lot of time or money.
Here are three steps I teach clients and in my “Mindset Matters” seminars on how to transform your relationships with an attitude of gratitude. To express gratitude, be authentic, positive, and site a specific example.
We often walk around mindlessly focused on our never-ending to-do lists. We are not present and may not notice the extra effort our partner or employee put into a simple task to make our lives better. The first step is to be present in this current moment. Then notice the seemingly small or ordinary tasks like your husband helped you with the dishes after dinner even though he may be as tired as you are after a long day at work. Did your employee stayed late at work to complete a project for an important deadline?
We can assume this is an expected duty of that person, but truly this is not the case. We may not realize it, but when someone is constantly “showing up” and they are not acknowledged, they will feel as if they are being taken for granted. It doesn’t matter that the task is in their job description or expected duty as a spouse. That person had a choice to be present and complete that task. The first step in shifting to an attitude of gratitude is to acknowledgement.
You have now acknowledged in your mind the person who made an effort to share a part of themselves. Perhaps your administrative assistant (AA) noticed your busy schedule and brought you your favorite type of latte without you asking for it. Now learn to affirm. When we are affirming someone, we are stating a fact in a method that offers emotional support or encouragement. How? Be positive, concrete and specific. You have noticed the action now follow through with expression that you acknowledge someone’s compassion and kindness. To follow through on our example with our AA, “Thank you for noticing how busy my schedule was today, and bringing me my favorite chai tea latte.”
After offering the acknowledgment and sharing a positive affirmation for a gesture from a particular person, we continue with appreciation. How is this different that acknowledging and affirming? To express appreciation is to fully recognize the value, price, or implications of that object or person. It is as simple as saying two words. Thank you. The words, “thank you”, are so simple and yet so undervalued in our over-schedule lives. Let us finish with the example above of your AA who brought us our favorite latte. “I want you to know how much I appreciate your thoughtfulness in taking care of small details in my busy day so that I have a moment to stop, breathe, and refocus.”
Remember, in giving gratitude, our blessings multiply. This is how we can bring a sense of mindfulness to our daily lives. Who are you thankful for today? How will you take the time to express your gratitude?
Note: The original and modified version of this article appeared on Dr. Romie’s blog.