Gratitude in the workplace

In the rush of modern life, it is easy to get lost in the blur, forgetting to practice gratitude for everything we have in the present moment. We fail to remain mindful of all the positives in life, allowing negativity to rob us of contentment. Meanwhile, gratitude enhances every area of our lives, from our personal relationships to our sense of fulfillment. It can even affect our professional lives and careers: Gratitude in the workplace is as important as other areas of our lives.   

By prioritizing the practice of gratitude in every area of our lives, we become able to master the art of being present. Only then can we begin to fully appreciate the importance of gratitude in business.

Reveal your deepest talents to become a better leader

Take the Quiz
What is gratitude in business?

When we think of practicing gratitude, we often think about our personal lives: our relationships, mental health and spiritual wellness. But adopting an attitude of gratitude in the workplace is also essential. Gratitude in business means appreciating your employees with both small gestures and larger actions. It means having company values like compassion and contribution. And it means building a company culture that focuses on people, not profits.

Recognizing the power of appreciation in business doesn’t mean you stagnate. You can strive for growth while also appreciating the abundance you currently have. The gift of gratitude will set you free from feeling perpetually discontent or restless for more and from never enjoying the fruits of your labor.

gratitude in business

The importance of gratitude in business

Why is gratitude important at work? By embracing a mentality of abundance, you’re able to experience the benefits of gratitude in the workplace. Research confirms the neuroscience of gratitude: The brain in gratitude is much like the brain in love. When we express thankfulness, our brain’s neural circuitry releases a cocktail of dopamine and serotonin, feel-good neurochemicals that foster optimism, camaraderie, willpower and positive emotions.

The more we practice gratitude, the more we activate the neurocircuitry responsible for this “gratitude response.” The circuits become stronger and, with time, the positive feelings they herald become more stable fixtures in our outlook. As such, research underscores the potential impact of gratitude in the workplace on outcomes ranging from employee retention to time management to running a successful business.

Additional studies expand the benefits of gratitude to include social benefits (gratitude opens the door to more relationships while expanding one’s capacity for empathy), physical health (gratitude leads to better self-care, sleep and overall health) and psychological health (practicing gratitude helps manage negative feelings while increasing mental stamina). In studying gratitude in the workplace, we encounter a subtle irony: By choosing thankfulness, our business becomes stronger, not weaker.

How to show gratitude in the workplace

Gratitude in business doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It’s a set of actions you can take so that eventually, employee appreciation becomes reflexive.

Start with priming

The strength of any organization depends on the psychology of its leader. The practice of priming can help you start your day in the right mindset so that you can radiate gratitude at work. Priming works by using mindfulness to harmonize your mind, body and emotions. Priming is one of the most powerful gratitude exercises since it enhances our connection with the present moment. As we become increasingly aware of our own blessings, we’re able to extend that mindset to bring an attitude of gratitude in the workplace.

Understand different types of gratitude

the importance of gratitude in business

When we inquire about how to practice gratitude in the workplace, it is also crucial to distinguish between linguistic gratitude (saying “thank you”) and “felt” gratitude (cultivating a deep, lasting sense of thankfulness). That difference has been the topic of much research, some of which underscores the complex relationship between the words and actions of gratitude. In American society, it is perfectly acceptable and expected for dinner guests to thank their host for dinner. Conversely, in Semai society, a dinner guest thanking his host would be considered extremely rude, since the act of giving thanks assigns a “value” to the gift of food, which is itself taboo.

Across cultures, generosity, reciprocity and gift-giving are demonstrated to form and strengthen interpersonal and social bonds. These lessons are relevant as we consider the importance of gratitude in business, since they underscore the multifaceted nature of thankfulness while encouraging us to practice empathy in responding to others’ gifts.

Master your emotions

Gratitude in the workplace isn’t a cure for negative emotions. To practice gratitude authentically, you must remain honest about your feelings, allowing gratitude to emerge amid your circumstances and emotions. We all feel angry, sad and frustrated – gratitude means letting these emotions pass and choosing to focus on all the positives that exist in your life. Rather than depending on externals (like your circumstances or achievements) to make you happy, you must accept that you are in control of your own thoughts, behavior and experiences.

As you practice gratitude consistently, you’re able to shift your state and mood toward the positive, becoming master of your emotions. You can focus on what’s going right instead of what’s going wrong, appreciating your employees’ contributions and providing constructive feedback on what they could do better. Controlling your emotions at work will help you build a culture of gratitude, trust and respect. 

Ready to take your business and employees to another level?

Learn how to channel gratitude the right way with Tony Robbins’ 7 Forces of Business Mastery free content series.