The Mindful Life™ Blog

5 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude at Work

mindful workplace May 21, 2024

Whether we have a solid daily practice or we only remember to say thank you a few moments before we dive into a plate of mashed potatoes, most of us use our gratitude practices to focus on our personal lives.

We list out that we are grateful for our children, our spouse, our loved ones, our health, but we don’t often write how thankful we are for aspects of our workplace.

We spend a lot of time throughout the years at our jobs, so bringing a regular gratitude practice into the workplace can have a big impact on  wellbeing, life satisfaction, and productivity. Not to mention the fact that:

Stress and gratitude have a difficult time co-existing.

From a neuroscience perspective, gratitude stimulates areas of the brain that regulate stress, as well as our reward circuitry. A gratitude practice can increase empathy, help us to understand different perspectives and open us up to new ideas.

Gratitude can help teamwork flow better and can create a positive working environment, which reduces burnout and turnover.

When you’re back in the office, challenge yourself to expand your gratitude practice to include your workplace. You can start with your surroundings, your comfy chair, hot coffee, a great parking space and then broaden the practice out further to include gratitude for the people you work with.

On less than optimal days, you can go back to the present moment and just focus on your surroundings and the simple things you appreciate. Later, you can always circle back and see if you can shift into a growth mindset and find a little bit of gratitude for lessons learned the hard way.

Here are a few more ideas to jumpstart your workplace gratitude practice.

  1. 5-minute focus
    Set a timer for 5-minutes and challenge yourself to write a morning gratitude list that’s focused specifically on what you’re grateful for at work. Do this every day for a week, before you delve into your in box, or tackle your daily projects. Keep the list short, but specific. This is a great way to get out of the bad habit of chronic complaining mode and to jump start your day with enthusiasm rather than dread. If you’re writing on a post-it note, stick it to your computer screen to remind you of what you’re thankful for throughout the day.
  2. Keep a gratitude jar for the company
    We do this at home with our kids, so why not bring it into the workplace? Perhaps in a break room or a reception area you could create a receptacle with a nearby notepad and pen, where staff members can jot off some quick gratitudes and put them in the jar. You could read them annually at a holiday party or compile them quarterly, monthly or weekly and send them out in company correspondence.

  3. Random acts of appreciation
    When you’re grateful for something a co-worker did, send a quick email of appreciation. This is a nice way to foster community and wellbeing.

  4. Hand write thank you notes
    If you want to go the extra mile, have an area in the company with a stack of nice stationary, envelopes and a pen. If you’re reluctant to get the whole company on board, just have these supplies ready at your own desk. Write one thank you note a week to a coworker (or even your boss) for a month. Handwriting helps us retain more and promotes better memory recall, so it engraves the gratitude, in your own wellbeing, even more than if you’re typing. The recipient also has something tangible to savor, remember or even pin up by their desk.

  5. Share your customer love notes
    When you receive positive comments from customers, compile them and send them out on a regular basis to everyone in the company. It’s a great way to keep staff engaged with the mission and nice to hear thank you’s from customers. The staff in the accounting department might not ever get to hear how well things are going in customer service. Share the positive thank you’s that the company receives with everyone.

We always love hearing stories about how these practices or your own practices are impacting your work life in a positive way. Please feel free to share stories or tips about your workplace gratitude practice on our Facebook page.

And, of course, we give thanks to all of you for being members of our Mindful Life community.

P.S. If you’d like to bring more mindfulness into your workplace, please contact us for custom workshops, keynotes and online workplace courses on stress-resilience and wellbeing.