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Monday, November 19, 2018

A Thanksgiving Proclamation

Hear ye! Hear ye! A Thanksgiving holiday will be celebrated this Thursday, November 22nd. Hopefully, workplaces across America will use this opportunity to give employees extra time off to spend with family and friends; time to recognize the bounty of goodness that we enjoy in this land. Then we can quickly get on to the purchasing of a massive amount of goods with Black Friday sales. I’m sure Abe Lincoln would give that two thumbs up.

Here’s another important proclamation. This one applies to corporate leaders, managers, and business owners. Use this Thanksgiving time to show appreciation for your employees! It’s becoming more of an “in” thing—and not just around Thanksgiving.

I reference to you an article from September of last year by Kira M. Newman. Kira is the managing editor of Greater Good Magazine where this was published. She also created The Year of Happy, a year-long course in the science of happiness, and CafĂ©Happy, a Toronto-based meetup. The article she wrote is titled, “How Gratitude Can Transform Your Workplace.”

I will cite this important paragraph to get your attention. “The practice of gratitude—and its close sibling, appreciation—has started to infiltrate workplaces, from new software companies to older institutions like Campbell Soup, whose former CEO wrote 30,000 thank you notes to his employees. Though research on gratitude has exploded over the past two decades, studies of gratitude at work are still somewhat limited; results so far link it to more positive emotions, less stress and fewer health complaints, a greater sense that we can achieve our goals, fewer sick days, and higher satisfaction with our jobs and our coworkers." Pretty good payoff!

And did you catch that Campbell Soup item? The guy wrote 30,000 thank you notes! I’m not even sure that this is possible to accomplish and still keep your job!

Then there’s Southwest Airlines, where appreciation is a cultural cornerstone. It helped earn the distinction as America’s #13 Best Employer of 2018 by Forbes. One of their practices is to pay attention to special events in employees’ personal lives. Flowers and cards are used to recognize such events as kids’ graduations to marriages to family illnesses.

Serious effort has been made in researching how to show appreciation within an organization. Results yield some key strategies for the development of a more grateful workplace. Here’s a summary of four best practices from the article:

  1. Gratitude is about the whole person. Consultant Mike Robbins warns some gratitude initiatives fail when they simply repurpose long standing recognition programs. “Recognition rewards performance and achievement…whereas appreciation acknowledges your inherent worth as a person.”
  2. Gratitude isn’t one-size-fits-all. Not everyone wants to be appreciated in the same way. Kind of like knowing a person’s “love language.” Learn these differences or risk miscommunication by assuming everyone likes to receive a card, a coffee, or public praise. One leader has compiled dozens of different gratitude practices varying from “surprise care packages to appreciation badges to a celebration calendar.”
  3. Gratitude must be embraced by leaders. It isn’t something you can force. The recommendation is to communicate the value of gratitude and follow up by offering a variety of opportunities and options for practicing it.
  4. Finally, gratitude has to be part of the culture. Suggestions include adding a short gratitude practice to staff meetings or infusing internal communications with gratitude to keep it top-of-mind. 

There’s much more to be found in this excellent article including appreciation retreats!

How significant is the impact of gratitude and appreciation? One business exec said it this way: “When I’ve seen it work, it’s just life-changing.”

Thanksgiving might be a very good time to start this practice at your organization. It can even work from the bottom up! Everybody can do it.

And while you’re at it, remember this: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1, NLT)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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