The Power Of Gratitude At Work

I worked my way through college in the restaurant industry, a sector that relies on the gratitude and appreciation of others. One of the things I learned during my time in that industry is that it can be hard for people to be gracious and friendly. For some people, there’s an expectation of an outcome, and, as long as that expectation is met, there is no need to appreciatively acknowledge the results. People are quick to offer feedback if the outcome is negative, but we often fail to acknowledge a person’s efforts when they does something good. Because of that, many people are apprehensive of feedback and don’t have a sense of being valued.

What has become of acknowledging people just for coming to work and working hard? At one point in my career, I was the front house manager for a restaurant, and I learned the value thanking the people who came to work and of thanking them when they finished at the end of the evening. I realized that people had a choice in where they worked and that they had a choice to leave if they did not feel valued. I believe that creating a culture of value within an organization will increase productivity and decrease turnover, which helps the organization to grow. According to a Gallup survey it is estimated that 22 million workers are actively disengaged, costing the American economy approximately $350 billion. In that, same report, it was noted that when a supervisor or manager actively focuses on the development of employee strengths and weakness, the supervisor can essentially eliminate the active disengagement among the employees. An example of this is a supervisor once saying that he understood his employee would leave; it was his job to make the decision to leave a hard one.

Accomplishing this level of engagement between employee and supervisor comes down to one thing: communication. This is communication on both sides. For example, as a supervisor, take the time to get to know your employees on more than a superficial level. Demonstrate that you have a stake in their success even if it means that they might leave the organization for a different or better opportunity. Another way to build this relationship is for supervisors to ask their employees for their opinions (even if you know the answers).

And when that opportunity to share an opinion is offered, it’s important that employees take it. Share your thoughts and break down the idea that only the supervisors can create change. After all, change can begin at any level of an organization. If a supervisor takes the time to learn about you, offer them that opportunity to the point that you are comfortable. I am not saying that you need to pour out your heart and soul, but as you build a trusting relationship with your supervisor, don’t be afraid to let them have a chance to get to know you.

It is important for employees to know that they are valued in the workplace on a regular basis – not just annually when bonus checks or Christmas hams are handed out.  While these expressions are appreciated, your employees also need a kind word and a pat when it’s not a special occasion. Their contribution to the organization’s success goes on year-round. Let your gratitude do the same.

Robert Jones, Employee Assistance Program Trainer at The Village Business Institute

About the author
Robert Jones is an Employee Assistance Program Trainer with The Village Business Institute. Robert has a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Master’s Degree in Education with an emphasis in counseling and leadership. He also has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, and recently began working on his Educational Doctorate in Leadership.  Robert has nearly 20 years of experience in the hospitality field and has been doing freelance training for almost 10 years.