October 2018


How to Do It … Plus the Personal and Profitable Payoffs

Workplace Culture Defined: The way we do things around here

That’s pretty clear. But how about we make just a slight edit and restate it as:

Workplace Gratitude Culture

The addition of that one word, Gratitude, when it becomes a real-life guiding principle creates a workplace that one study describes as enjoying a 50% increase in productivity. And what would coming to work feel like if the Team benefited from a workplace atmosphere of gratitude as the Harvard Medical School observed in their health letter In Praise of Gratitude:

“Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

In this article, we’ll tackle how to enable individuals to participate in a workplace gratitude culture that enriches all stakeholders – workers, managers, customers, vendors and investors.

Does your organization encourage a culture of gratitude?

Not in an intimidating “Be grateful you’re getting a paycheck” sense, but in a way that says, “I really appreciate my co-workers and the feeling is mutual”. Chances are the answer is no. According to a recent Gallup poll, 65% of people say they don’t feel appreciated at work. And that feeling quickly leads to pervasive negativity, low morale and (worst of all) decreased productivity.

Researcher Vanessa Buote notes in her piece on Gratitude At Work:

“Unfortunately, for many workplaces, gratitude isn’t a part of workplace culture. Few employees take time to reflect on the things they appreciate at work. According to a recent study only 30% of employees thank a co-worker multiple times a week and only 20% thank their boss several times a week. Shockingly, 29% never thank a co-worker and 35% of employees never thank their boss. In many companies, gratitude just isn’t a daily occurrence.”

Joy & Kim

Kim Angeli and Joy Harris, co-founders of The Grateful Box, say it doesn’t have to be this way. Companies can deliberately infuse their cultures, from top to bottom, with an “attitude of gratitude.”

“Too many people leave work every day thinking, ‘My boss doesn’t appreciate me.’ ” say the GratiTwins. “When you feel that your boss doesn’t fully value your work, you start to care a little less. You don’t provide the kind of customer service you would if you felt appreciated. You don’t make an effort to help your co-workers. And when the majority of the people in a workplace feel this way, productivity decreases and turnover increases.”

The Chief Gratitude Officer – A Role, NOT a Rank

OK. So where do we begin this transformative journey to create a culture of gratitude? First of all a “culture” means there is virtually universal buy-in by all players in the organization.

While it is true that leadership is example, once the gratitude initiative is introduced and underway, everyone becomes a leader. That means there is no top-down, linear flow when it comes to expressing and accepting gratitude. The gratitude directional compass needle is not stationary … it points in all directions … often simultaneously. Gratitude may be expressed southward by the boss, northward to the boss and laterally (east and west) with co-workers, customers and vendors.

So, there is no one Chief Gratitude Officer. Everyone may claim that title by conveying honest and meaningful gratitude whenever it is warranted. As an employee, you can start your own grass-roots gratitude movement by expressing gratitude yourself and encouraging your co-workers to do so as well. Everyone can show gratitude in a workplace and influence others to do the same.

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The Payoffs

There have been numerous studies on the relationship between gratitude and work engagement. Consider this study conducted by researchers at the Wharton School - University of Pennsylvania:

“Researchers randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group—assigned to work on a different day—received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts.

During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.”

In their work with employers to initiate, implement and maintain a culture of gratitude, Kim and Joy, the GratiTwins, report that employees are more willing to spread their positive feelings with others, whether it’s helping out with a project or taking time to notice and recognize those who have gone the extra mile. This creates a “pay it forward” and “we’re in this together” mentality in the workplace, which in turn fosters a sense of unity and commitment to organizational goals. A workplace gratitude culture results in transformed relationships, minimized complaints, and increased satisfaction levels of team members. Renowned researcher Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, and cites research showing that practicing gratitude on a daily basis reduces stress hormones by 23%. Imagine the net effect of that in the workplace!


Tips to Hardwire Your Workplace Gratitude Culture

1. Start Today: Start saying thank you today to anyone who helps make your work or your workplace more effective, efficient or pleasant.

2. Remember the Team: You are part of it and your success and that of your fellow team members is contingent on group cooperation, respect and trust. Offer or suggest outlets for people to say thanks … consider bulletin boards and/or intranet postings.

3. Be Sincere: Deliver honest and meaningful compliments. Sincerity telegraphs that you respect the person and his or her contributions to the benefit of your shared workplace.

4. Be Specific: Make sure your compliment addresses specific actions and behaviors, not personality traits, e.g. friendly, upbeat, etc. Praising desired actions and behaviors is likely to trigger a repeat of those valued traits.

5. Pay Attention to the “Back Room”: Support staff is often not as visible in their contributions as salespeople and front-line workers. Publicly recognize the folks who cut the checks, process orders and schedule your product/service delivery.

6. Shoot for Quality, not Quantity: Encourage spontaneous expressions of gratitude when it is

deserved. Too much gratitude induces gratitude fatigue and over time will diminish or negate the perceived value.


Expressing gratitude for Team members is a powerful force to nurture an open, collaborative, unified worker group dynamic. Plus productivity and retention of quality workers are well-served. “Thank-you” costs nothing, creates measurable benefits and at that price, generates nearly an infinite ROI.


Here’s a quiz developed by Greater Good to determine your organization’s gratefulness “quotient”. It may help you to gain perspective on your enterprise.

Depending on your Quiz Results, consider a free, no obligation conversation with Kim and Joy at The Grateful Box. Give a call or email. We’ll respond promptly!

Raving Fans

Create Raving Fans With Nextdoor

You can accomplish so much more through Nextdoor than most businesses realize, but you have to approach it with the right mindset and the right strategy to get the most out of it. Sign up for Grateful Box’s 6 Lesson Course here: https://gratefulbox.com/nextdoor/

By the time you're done, you'll know everything you need to do to surprise and delight your customers, show them your sincere gratitude, build your own army of raving fans, and ultimately create more opportunities to do the work you love!