November 2014: Workplace Happiness, Engagement, and Performance

It’s that time of the year where there’s a definite nip in the air, orange and red leaves cover the ground, and the smell of pumpkin pie and turkey are imminently around the corner.  So it’s appropriate that our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and all that we have to be grateful for.  This article entitled “Gratitude At Work: Its Impact On Job Satisfaction & Sense Of Community”  by Vanessa Buote, a post-doctoral fellow at Plasticity Labs and Wilfrid Laurier University, really called out to me and seemed important to share with you particularly at this time of the year.  Her work focuses on workplace happiness, engagement, and performance. I would strongly encourage each of you to read the article in its entirety at: http://www.plasticitylabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Gratitude-At-Work-Final.pdf.

I hope this will stir a spark in you and that you’ll carry the sentiment through your workplace as well as your home and family in the coming months.  It’s also appropriate at this time to take a minute to say a big “Thank You” to all of you out there.  We are most thankful for the confidence and trust you place in us here at Whitaker to be your career counselor, marketplace “guru”, and staffing partner.  Our wishes to you and yours for a holiday season filled with thankfulness and joy. C>


 

Much research has focused on the benefits of gratitude. Findings indicate that grateful people do seem better off: they are happier, often have better moods, they are also more trusting and feel greater support from others. While gratitude is becoming a popular research topic, there is very little research focused specifically on gratitude in the workplace. Is gratitude part of your workplace culture? For many companies, it isn’t. Few employees take time to reflect on the things they appreciate at work, and research shows that expressing appreciation in the workplace doesn’t occur frequently; a recent study commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation, found that only 30% of people express thanks to a co-workers several times a week, and only 20% thank their boss several times a week. A full 35% of people never thank their boss and 29% never thank a co-worker.

This is concerning, as research indicates that gratitude is an important component of workplace culture that contributes to positive outcomes. Grateful people are better at perspective-taking, are more agreeable and more open to new ideas, all of which have important implications for the workplace.  A culture of gratitude predicts higher job satisfaction. One avenue to promote a positive working environment is to encourage gratitude at work. Certainly, one way to inspire gratitude at work is to promote the expression of gratitude (i.e., thanking co-workers, managers etc.), but perhaps another way is to simply ask employees to reflect on the things they are grateful for at work. By encouraging employees to think about, list and describe the things they are grateful for, employers can promote a positive working environment, including greater job satisfaction and cohesiveness among team members.

Gratitude at work increases positivity. Although we may not always be able to control what happens in the workplace, we can control how we choose to perceive it and what we choose to focus on. We can focus on the negative aspects of the workplace – the things that annoy and frustrate us – or we can find the things that we like about our workplace and be grateful for them. By increasing gratitude, employers may be able to boost employee performance and decrease job-seeking behaviors among employees. Importantly, employees who were asked believed they would be more satisfied with their job in six months’ time. This has important implications for employee turnover – if employees anticipate that they will be satisfied in 6 months then they may be less likely to be thinking about opportunities at other companies.

Another benefit of gratitude at work activity is an increase in perceived sense of community, which has been identified as an important component of workplace culture because of its impact on workplace experience. The belief that there is a strong sense of community among employees may work to increase social support among team members, encourage collaboration and partnerships, and promote interdependency, where team members come to rely and depend on one other. It can also promote trust and encourage employees to work together towards common shared goals.

Encourage employees to express to others what they’re grateful for, and to thank one another. Expressing gratitude not only makes the receiver feel good, but it makes the “thanker” feel good as well; 88% of employees reported that expressing gratitude to colleagues makes them feel happy and fulfilled.  Both giving and receiving support is linked to job satisfaction, engagement and happiness.

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