We call it work, but no single word can really do justice to all the activity, creativity, stress and sweat that go into each day. From the moment we arrive (or more likely, the moment we check our email in the morning) to the moment we truly sign off, we’re trying to keep up with the pace our hyper-connected world. And sometimes the human element gets lost in the shuffle.
But it’s that human element that makes the work worth doing, and that can also make our days more productive and more fulfilling. Take gratitude: when we express our appreciation for others, the benefits don’t just extend outward, but inward as well. When we’re grateful, we’re more generous, less stressed, and we even sleep better.
As a manager, you’re in a position to help your team, and your organization as a whole, reap these benefits. True, it might not happen overnight — when your direct reports think of work, gratitude probably isn’t the first emotion that comes to mind. And that’s natural: we’re accustomed to feeling grateful for our friends and family, and for our lives and passions outside of work, but so many aspects of our work lives (stress, deadlines, hard-to-please bosses) don’t exactly fill us with an I-just-won-the-lottery sense of good fortune. So here are a few simple ways you can help your employees find more gratitude at work:
1. Make “thank you” part of every conversation
In high-stakes, fast-paced environments, social niceties and common courtesy can sometimes fall by the wayside. So in 1-on-1s, at team meetings, and in casual conversation, make a habit of saying thanks. It’s the simplest, most genuine way to let your direct reports know you appreciate them and their efforts.
2. Help your team schedule time to reduce stress
Ask each of your employees how they prefer to de-stress, then have them set a calendar invite for themselves to make it happen. This might be going for a walk, meditating, or stretching. When your direct reports know you care about their stress levels, they’ll feel grateful to work at a company that cares enough to consider their well-being.
3. Show your gratitude
Some work environments can make employees feel depleted — like they’re always giving but getting little in return. Establish an enjoyable ritual everyone can look forward to, like a weekly lunch for your team or bringing in bagels on Fridays (yes, free food tends to work!) to let them know how grateful you are for all they do.