Expressing gratitude has become a bastion of the self-care movement – a frequent recommendation for daily personal reflection. We’ve heard a great deal about gratitude in recent years, and many of us are already familiar with the positive impacts that gratitude can have on mental health and well-being.
But what about gratitude in a business setting? How might our work metrics improve with careful and dedicated use of gratitude strategies?
- Stronger Partnerships – Our dealings with business partners – whether they be vendors, suppliers, investors, co-owners, or fellow leaders – are ultimately dependent on a very simple concept: Relationships. When we cultivate and grow strong, loyal and significant relationships with others, we likewise grow strong and mutually beneficial business partnerships. The best kind of partners are those who will go the extra mile to ensure we have what we need to be successful. But how do we build those kinds of relationships? A Harvard Health study from 2012 may provide a partial answer. According to that research, the key to helping others to feel positive emotions and build strong relationships was the expression of gratitude. The research stated that when appreciation is effectively displayed and communicated, the recipients’ positive feelings rise in three areas – feeling valued, strengthening emotional connections, and personal loyalty. There’s a real and untapped opportunity at work to utilize gratitude – in a strategic way – to encourage and maintain better business partnerships.
- Truly Loyal Customers – We can pinpoint gratitude and appreciation as a significant force directly and positively impacting our customer relationships. However, it’s important to distinguish customer appreciation and gratitude from simply providing a positive customer experience. We all know the value of customer experience on brand loyalty and reputation – there are countless data points to back that up. But how does appreciation factor in? According to a global customer engagement report from Vonage, the number one reason why customers decide to switch partners is because they feel underappreciated. Let that sink in for a moment. Customers today don’t simply want to have a positive and efficient interaction with a brand – they want to feel valued. They want to feel as if they matter. Showing appreciation via measures of gratitude is an underutilized strategy that can have a powerful effect on customer loyalty over time.
- More Business – People like to do business with people they like, and everyone likes someone who appreciates them. Top sales performers know that personalized gestures of appreciation are ideal for business development. Appreciation is the foundation of building strong relationships in the workspace – from showing gratitude in pre-meeting correspondence to maintaining loyal clients. This could be as simple as sending someone a note before your first meeting, “I wanted to send a quick note to thank you for finding time to speak with me. Here’s a small gesture of appreciation – a coffee on me. I look forward to speaking on Monday!” In the long run, consistent appreciation will help you effectively connect with more prospects and transform them into happy clients, which leads to more revenue.
- Engaged Employees – U.S. employees are disengaged. We hear about it all the time – with more and more research coming out to show that our workers are largely unhappy and unmotivated at work. This is a serious problem for the business community, and while the debate around possible solutions continues– I still don’t see enough leaders discussing the topic that feels to me like an obvious no-brainer: Gratitude and recognition. When we express our gratitude and appreciation for what our employees are doing at work, they tend to feel happier, work harder – and most importantly, stick around. In fact, according to recent data, among the U.S. employees that are “always” or “usually” recognized and rewarded at work, the majority (63%) would be “very unlikely” to hunt for new jobs. More and more, the research supports the need for greater and more frequent investment in measures of gratitude to recognize and reward employees. Leaders who understand and apply this concept see one of the most valuable impacts on business – deeply engaged workers who care about making their organizations successful.
To cash in on these outcomes –better business partnerships, loyal customers, more business and engaged employees – businesses must begin to weave gratitude into the very fiber of their operational strategies. The expression of appreciation, specifically when we think beyond simple words of thanks, is not just a “nice” thing to do. It’s a transformative tool for driving measurably improved business outcomes.