Incentive&Motivation Gratitude

If you want to enhance employee motivation, gratitude should be a key place to start – and even the most unlikely sectors are changing how they say thank you. For example, you might not think that banking has a reputation for gentle, kind words of recognition – especially if you’ve seen Wolf of Wall Street.

However, recent news from the Financial Times showed that JP Morgan has been reinvigorating how they thank their staff. According to the article free burgers have been given out, England rugby star Matt Dawson has presented speeches and managers have been encouraged to run events…including Bake Offs. Banking head Daniel Pinto in a memo was quoted as saying:

“Go out of your way to say thank you – not just to colleagues that sit near you, but to colleagues around the world who support you every day. Thank you for all you do.”

Gratitude is a hot topic. From gratitude journals to platforms that allow peer to peer recognition, saying thanks has never been so important. It’s also got scientific backing, with studies showing being grateful increases dopamine levels – the same satisfied feeling after eating a great meal. However a study by the John Templeton Foundation of over 2000 people shows that respondents are less likely to express gratitude at work than anywhere else, and when they consider what they’re grateful for, work was at the very end of the list behind spouses, children and parents.

The Institute of Employment Studies recently identified the ways businesses can recognise, reward and engage staff, making them feel valued and involved. As well as Performance and Appraisal, Equal Opportunities, Training and Job Satisfaction -saying ‘thank you’ is high up on the list.

Businesses of course love the idea of a ‘free’ strategy, but creating a culture of gratitude can be tricky. Despite being in an age where there are tech solutions to motivation, huge ranges of employee incentives,perks and benefits packages- good old fashioned recognition can feel awkward, especially if it’s a dramatic change. It seems employees agree; nearly all respondents in the same survey said saying “thank you” to colleagues made them feel happier and more fulfilled, yet just 10% did practice gratitude at work on an ‘average’ day. 60% never do, or might thank someone once a year.

What a disconnect! When we are grateful, or recognised, we feel great. But we rarely show gratitude. Whether it feels fake, cheesy or unnatural – it’s time to make a change. Here are some ideas.

Thankful Thursdays
Encourage a top down attitude to gratitude. By implementing gratitude into company culture, you create positivity and create an environment where others feel comfortable being grateful. What about ‘thankful Thursdays?’ Ensure you promote the idea that today is a day to say thanks. You can make this organic, or you could allow a prize for the activity that aligns most closely with your values.

Use gifts

A gift card or a similar small perk shows that your business is making a real commitment to change. What about allowing a gifting budget, keeping a store of gift cards at hand or even some ‘ready to gift’ sweets?

Offer specific praise

It feels unnatural to thank someone for ‘being awesome’ – so mention the specific details on why they did a good job and be precise.

Start small

If being asked to metaphorically or literally pat someone on the back makes your team outwardly cringe, try encouraging them to email the people that have helped them out. Perhaps your HR management tool allows peer to peer notes or a leaderboard.

Change the language

Start using a language of thanks in your emails. Something as silly as ’10 ACME inc points to James who stayed over 2 hours to fix the servers!” starts to plant the seed that great work is recognised and rewarded.

What are your experiences with gratitude in the workplace and how long did it take you to change your culture?