The Gift of Gratitude at Work

6 ways to express thanks to your co-workers

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘Thank You’?— William Arthur Ward

Anecdotes through the ages and research from a variety of sources suggest that practicing gratitude on a regular basis has many benefits — from improved health and relationships to increased revenue and work results. Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive and has the ability to transform all aspects of our lives. In her book Living in Gratitude, Angeles Arrien encourages the practice of “Gratitude in the Four Quadrants of Life” which include Work, Relationships, Finances, and Health.

As a publishing professional for more than 30 years, I have witnessed first-hand how the gift of gratitude works — at work. Here are a few practical examples and lessons learned to inspire ideas that can encourage gratitude each and every day:

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1. Thank You Campaigns

Customers and members are the lifeblood of associations and organizations. From discounts and free shipping offers to promotions and loyalty programs, making gratitude a part of the marketing plan is essential. There are opportunities each week and month to reach out and touch customers to show them that you care such as Financial Wellness Month or Healthy Aging Month. Check them out here.

  • Create a “Thank You” postcard and /or email. Thanks for joining, thanks for being a member, or thanks for your business. If you have a Web Store, consider offering a package discount on products that are carefully chosen and relevant two to three times per year.
  • Offer 10% off in summer or to begin the new year.
  • Consider a “Made in America” campaign around the 4th of July.

2. Make Meetings Fun

Staff meetings can become a time not just to catch up but also a time to relax and enjoy colleagues and build a sense of teamwork. Here are some ideas.

  • Invite a colleague from another department to share what they do and how your departments can work together. Have an agenda as well as introductions around the room. Make it a special time for the other person. Do they like ice cream? Is cheese cake one of their favorites? Or have some fresh fruit or popcorn to go around. Remember to welcome them at the beginning and thank them for coming with a round of applause at the end.
  • Choose 3–4 times a year for a special staff meeting. Maybe Halloween. Or a time to sign holiday cards. Or help out a colleague with tasks such as gathering materials together as a group to help someone out and share a few laughs at the same time.
  • I remember working in an office where there was lunch at every important strategy meeting. One person took charge to make it fun and a week before each meeting asked everyone what kind of food they wanted. We all looked forward to finding out what menu she chose — and we enjoyed the meetings as well!

3. Birthdays and Work Anniversaries

As a manager, I always kept a list of staff birthdays and work anniversaries. These are important milestones to celebrate. Depending on the organization’s culture, determine the best way to proceed. My favorite way to celebrate these occasions was to have a potluck around noon at a designated place in the office each month to celebrate the birthdays and work anniversaries during that month. Everyone brings a little something from napkins and plates to cookies and more.

4. Customer Service Week

It’s a good idea to show appreciation to those on the front lines, including telephone reps, warehouse staff, and sales reps. The first week in October is Customer Service Week and is an excellent opportunity to show care and concern.

  • Coordinate a simple event for 30 minutes or so with bagels in the morning.
  • Arrange a pizza lunch and ask attendees how you can help them solve their biggest problem at work over the next year.
  • Remember to share smiles, handshakes, and genuine words of appreciation for the good work these folks do day in and day out.

5. Gift Bags

Gift bags don’t have to be as elaborate as the ones given out as the Oscars. In this case, it’s the thought that counts.

  • Giving a gift bag to a colleague who is going on vacation or coming back from sick leave can be a special treat.
  • Or receiving a gift bag when you check in to a hotel for a conference is a thrill. Coffee mugs filled with chocolate, books, sun screen (for the vacation), or even just a nice card that says “have fun” or “welcome back” will work wonders.
  • In some offices, it is a tradition to take up a small collection for staff and then buy them something (usually under $50) like flowers or a gift card for important occasions such as a new baby or a death in the family.

6. Learning From Others

There are many more ways to say thank you to your customers and colleagues. The important thing to remember is to have fun and celebrate early and often. As Robert A. Emmons and Joanna Hill state in their book, Words of Gratitude for Mind, Body, and Soul, “You will attract goodness and good people into your life as your gratitude turns into actions.”

So what is your favorite way to share the gift of gratitude at work?