In the past 18 months, business leaders were confronted with the need to manage the pandemic while balancing their stakeholders’ concern especially the employee’s health.
While that is seemingly under control now given the vaccine roll outs, more and more organizations have or are planning to reopen but notwithstanding a new challenge—the Great Resignation.
The Great Resignation is a phenomenon describing a mass exodus of many mid-career workers. These are individuals who are financially well off who don’t necessarily have to work, and thus have opted to either retire early or demand flexible work schedules that afford them a lifestyle of their choice.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. Resignations increased in April and have remained abnormally high for the last several months, with a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs at the end of July.
As a result, employers are wondering where to turn to for qualified talents amid this tidal wave of resignations?
Building Culture of Gratitude As a Competitive Advantage
In general, people like and trust employers, workplaces and teams who they feel appreciate and value them. Since the caveman days, tribes connected and developed strong bonds that allowed them to fend themselves off from their enemies, and or some other external threat like plagues.
Today’s workforce is no different not to mention the same threats of diseases and plagues still persist. As such, people who feel connected to each other have a sense of belonging that empower them to fight and resist all manner of challenges successfully.
The pandemic has not only destabilized people’s way of life, but continues to threaten people dependent on each other. It’s no wonder many are reevaluating their current relationship with their employers and thus choosing to leave if this basic human need is not addressed.
According to Maslow Hierarchy of needs, the need to belong, esteem and confidence—all social needs; play a significant role in people’s performance and success. This is why humans need the social reinforcement and validation of their peers, co-workers in sensing that they belong and are valued.
Attracting qualified talent is not enough, retention is where it matters the most. This is why building a culture of appreciation lets your employees know you care and appreciate them.
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Otherwise, you risk losing your team to your competitors as your team seeks meaningful work and environments where they feel appreciated and valued.
Benefits of a Culture of Gratitude
1. Improved Health
Without a healthy team you run the risk of cost overruns. Nevertheless, by staying on top of your employees’ well-being and engaging them in small talk to know how they are doing on a day-to-day basis, you cultivate goodwill beyond what meets the eyes. This is so because employees begin to feel valued and cared for, and this in turn improves their sense of worth and esteem—and overall health.
If we have learned anything during the pandemic is the need for all to be human. The reality is that this virus while elusive to the naked eye, its carnage is non-discriminatory—it does not matter who you are, whether a CEO or a janitor.
As such, the best leaders who will emerge from this crisis are those that are able to show compassion. While empathy is key in building connections, demonstrating that you understand and care will mean you do something to alleviate the pain many are dealing with.
Compassionate leadership is how you as a leader can elevate your team, culture and lead your business to thrive. Showing your team that you care for them, their families, their basic needs, and expressing gratitude with tokens of appreciation example by saying, ‘Thank You’ more often says a lot about you and how you see and relate with others. Leaders can support this act with conduct such as granting additional leave, expanded health coverage or other benefits.
For example, in a move to support its employees shortly after the 2020 lockdowns, Target CEO, Brian Cornell announced an initiative to allow high-risk employees such as seniors, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems, to stay home from work for 30 days with pay.
“We have deep gratitude for the remarkable effort our team has put into supporting guests across the country. We remain committed to prioritizing our efforts to provide for their well-being so they can take care of themselves and their families during this unprecedented time,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target Corporation.
2. Engaged Teams
Engaged teams means happy and engaged customers. Happy engaged customers means satisfied customers. Investing in your employee’s happiness by simply saying ‘Thank You’ has an incredible ripple effect.
As a leader it is your job to establish this as a norm and way of being in your organization. As you say thank you to those you lead, you are setting the tone of engagement and expectation among your team. It will not be long before you realize your team appreciates being acknowledged and saying thank you to one another.
3. Employee Loyalty
Human beings congregate and often are drawn to people and places where they are celebrated. After all, we have an innate desire to feel valued and loved. So, as you learn to care and appreciate your team, you are in essence giving them the validation they need. In return, your employees feel valued and wanted, and are likely to inspire and invite their friends to join your organization.
4. Giving Positive Feedback
Giving positive feedback is one way to ensure you express your feelings of appreciation to your employees. But it’s even better when you incorporate it in your daily communications. Learn to say thank you often to those around you, and you will never have to wonder if people feel and know you value them.
According to Gallup, giving your employees regular feedback is one way to show them you appreciate their contribution.
Regular feedback shows workers how they're contributing to the organization and that their contributions are valuable.
How To Build Culture of Gratitude
Building a culture of gratitude is easy but not easy. Like all things, it takes consistency and authenticity. As a leader, you are the custodian of culture, and all things values that you wish to direct and guide your organization.
A culture of gratitude is thus more visible and believable if you, as the leader, embody it. You can be certain it will trickle down to others around you, and then to your customers.
To build a sustainable thriving business, establishing a culture of gratitude is the ultimate goal. For instance, you can implement a practice of gratitude in the workspace by holding brief gratitude sessions either during the weekly meetings or you could make it fun and have some theme built around certain days; say, ‘Gratitude Fridays’—where you encourage your team to share amongst them what they appreciate about their colleagues in achieving their weekly milestones.
This May Interest You: The Power of Gratitude
Note, for this to work well, expressed appreciations need to point to a specific action or behaviour for it to have significance meaning. Additionally, you can inspire hand written thank you notes, gratitude journal writing, gratitude letters, and more. by leading the charge.
Generally, a crisis is an opportune time when leaders can make a positive difference in people's lives. For those who seek to be more humanly attuned empathic and compassionate about serving the needs of those they lead, navigating through these disillusioned times can lead to incredible transformation both for you and your teams.
As Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy, wrote in the Harvard Business Review (HBR): “This is a time when performance will be judged by how a company and its leadership serve everyone and fulfill a higher purpose — and specifically how they have shown up and met the requirements and expectations of its multiple stakeholders.”
Leaders who cultivate a culture of active listening through open dialogues with all or some of their stakeholders and who are able to steer conversations in the right direction—inspiring hope, gratitude, engagement or share tips on how to cope and/or manage for better outcomes—are those who will emerge as true leaders. Not defined by their titles, but by their humanity because they are in touch with their own emotions and those of their fellow humans, and more specifically those they lead.
In a Nutshell
The truth is, we all like to feel valued and cared for. A simple thank you goes a long way in communicating just how much your team means to you.
As a leader, being intentional in saying thank you or in cultivating a culture of gratitude will set you apart and get your message of caring to the hearts of your team.
In return, your team will reciprocate in high morale, engagement, and with their blood sweat and tears. Additionally, happy teams mean happy customers and thus thriving businesses!
How can you be different in cultivating a culture that can impact and influence those around you? Well, this video might just help. Check out this video below on leadership, influence and breakthrough!