How Gratitude Can Improve Productivity

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Here’s an alarming statistic: according to Gallup research, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their employment. That means that 85% don’t like their work, their workplace, and they’re going to do as little as possible to get through the day and pick up their pay.

In the US, the number of engaged employees is on the rise, topping out at 34% but that still means that almost 2/3rds of employees are not feeling motivated or connected to their workplace.

Losing an employee, beyond the forfeiture of their knowledge and experience, costs thousands of dollars per person. Absenteeism, low productivity, bad customer service… These are all results of low engagement.

On the flip side, companies with engaged employees are 22% more profitable and 21% more productive with 41% less absenteeism.

So what’s the key to driving higher employee engagement, which will result in greater productivity?


Companies need to lead with gratitude

Companies are ultimately about profitability but mixing human emotions with the ‘bottom line’ is a difficult and complex equation. Profitability comes down to creating the highest productivity at the lowest possible cost, but the reality is that until robots take over the world, human nature has to be factored into those costs. It’s human to want to be appreciated. It’s human to want to be respected. The ability of an employee to feel engaged is founded in their feeling safe and appreciated in their roles.

Increasing productivity through an employee’s willingness to provide that extra effort that is within their discretion to exercise or not, is best accomplished with gratitude. Not more money, not a trip to Disneyland… simple gratitude.

The productivity improvements when workers feel gratitude and are more engaged is the ability to work together to find solutions to issues within the organization, to be collaborative and empathetic, rather than being focused on a single silo of protected knowledge.

How to lead with gratitude, with a view to improving productivity?

Like all cultural shifts in an organization, the change must begin at the top and filter down through all levels.

  • New habits — if you want gratitude to be a part of the culture of your organization, you have to practice it often and consistently. Plus, engaging in gratitude amps up the ‘feel good’ hormones serotonin and dopamine. Like anything that you enjoy, it won’t be long before you’re craving to share some gratitude with others! And the beauty is, if it becomes part of the fabric of the company’s culture, others will share it too.
  • Show appreciation — this can’t be a scheduled meeting to tell everyone how awesome they are, an activity that is disingenuous at best! You have to notice productivity and show the people involved, on an individual level, that you see them and their efforts, and that you appreciate it. When employees feel ‘seen’, they feel safer in the knowledge that their contributions matter. Your gratitude makes them feel grateful in turn and that is a feeling they can share with others. It’s a self-perpetuating attitude, if it’s done correctly!
  • Bring respect and politeness back — sometimes we forget the basic niceties. We’re taught as children to say please and thank you, but somehow, within the corporate structure, those basics are often ignored in the aim of streamlining activities to increase productivity. However, these very simple tools are essential to increasing engagement and, by consequence, productivity. Bringing them back is good for business.
  • Don’t just pay attention to the noisemakers — sure, there are always those team members who stand out. They do more and they make sure you know it! Look behind the scenes for the quiet doers, the ones who do a lot but escape notice whether by design or by mistake, and be sure to include them in your gratitude.

When you come from a place of gratitude, you can handle whatever comes your way in terms of issues or problems, far more positively and productively. If you’re happy with what you already have in your organization, it becomes easier to handle problems from a positive perspective. Mistakes will happen but gratitude makes it possible for people to see the good, for the short and the long term.

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