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Why practice gratitude at work

We are less likely to express gratitude at work than anywhere else, where it’s sorely needed.

This content is provided by University of Utah’s Accelerate and University of Utah Heath’s Resiliency Center in recognition of mental health awareness month.

Gratitude feeds essential needs for human connection, including our need to be recognized, valued and appreciated by one another. When these needs are met, we are inspired and motivated to do great things. Research has found that workers thrive in a culture of gratitude, resulting in higher personal investment, quality of performance, trust and team work, more job satisfaction and less burn out.

And the reverse is true—if people do not feel appreciated, they tend to search for it somewhere else; the Department of Labor cites this as the number one reason for people leaving their jobs.

Yet, this type of culture doesn’t happen without intentional effort. A survey of 2000 Americans commissioned by the Templeton Foundation in 2013 learned that even though gratitude was valued, Americans were less likely to express gratitude at their workplace than anywhere else.

Tips for practice

Some tips to guide your effort based on gratitude science:

  1. Start at the top. Research shows that leaders need to set the tone and model gratitude if they want to build such a culture at their organization.
  2. Involve everyone year round. Create opportunities for staff and stakeholders of all levels to participate voluntarily as receivers and givers of thanks.
  3. Thanks doesn’t have to be big. It can be given for big or small things, for the work and process as well as for the end product.
  4. Be authentic. People are touched by genuine, personal words and gestures of thanks; a standard, general thank you to everyone does not have the same impact for the giver or receiver. It’s like a participation trophy.

Trinh Mai, “Why Practice Gratitue at Work”, Accelerate University of Utah Health curriculum, Dec. 7, 2018. Available at: