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coworkers smiling at each other, shaking hands as if congratulations are being offeredAttitude of Gratitude

By Candace Fisher, SPHR, Director, Organizational Development/Certified Coach
Published November 14, 2023

“Gratitude paints little smiley faces on everything it touches.”
– Richelle E. Goodrich

It’s the time of year when we’re reminded to give thanks and to appreciate all that we have. But let’s make this concept personal – toward others. 

We’re all familiar with gratitude. It’s part of our everyday lives. Someone holds a door for us, someone hands us our coffee in the drive-through, a coworker gets us a bottle of water when they get one for themselves. What do we do? We say, “Thank you,” of course! It’s just good manners. It’s even expected. But this “expected gratitude” may not have much of an impact on the one who is being thanked. 

Then, there are the times that we go out of our way to show our appreciation, even in a small way. At a recent event, a venue employee was checking the coffee station and tidying up. Someone went out of their way to say, “Thank you for all your hard work. It’s so nice to have fresh coffee and for things to be so clean.” At an airport, there was a group of servicemen and women in uniform waiting for their flight. Someone approached the group and expressed sincere gratitude for these individuals’ service to and protection of our country. In these situations, the receivers of the gratitude immediately flashed a humble smile and really seemed to perk up. They were grateful for the gratitude. (Pun intended.)

So, what about our workplace? Are your supervisors and managers going out of their way to express sincere gratitude to employees? Is it the norm in your organization and is it part of your culture for employees to express gratitude to one another? 

Years ago, as a new employee in an organization, a colleague sent me some information, and I emailed them back to thank them for making my job easier by providing that information so quickly. Their response to me indicated that they were somewhat surprised and were not accustomed to being thanked for “just doing their job.” Since then, I’ve tried to always express my appreciation when someone does something nice for me or helps me out in some way. 

What can we do to make an “attitude of gratitude” commonplace in our organization? It’s a contagious behavior and that should be modeled by leaders. A peer recognition program can also help to give gratitude a boost. It’s key to be sincere. 

  • Start by personalizing the statement and using someone’s name: “I want to say, ‘Thank you,’ Maria.”
  • Tell them specifically what they did that you appreciate: “When you rearranged your schedule to stay late on Tuesday to complete the research, I was able to finish the report and meet the Wednesday deadline.”
  • Tell them why it made a difference (to you, to your customers, to your organization): “This allowed us to get the information to Marketing so that our customers have the timely access they need.”
  • Thank them in a sincere, heartfelt way: “Your willingness to go above and beyond to help us meet the deadline had a significant impact on our organization and our customers. Thank you.”

Why should we care about gratitude? As you can see, this conversation didn’t take a lot of time, but it will have a positive impact on Maria’s day and on her performance. When people feel valued and appreciated, they’re more likely to be engaged. When people know that what they do makes a difference, and when they’re told how it makes a difference, they want to keep engaging in those positive behaviors. And going back to those good manners, expressing sincere gratitude is the right thing to do.

We at HR Source are grateful for our members and for all your interactions and contributions that make us a success. Thank you for being part of HR Source.

As we head into the last part of the year, what are you most grateful for in your professional life? Keep the gratitude conversation going with your peers in the All Members Community on HR Exchange.