Giving Thanks at Work

It’s that time of the year when we look at the calendar and say, “Is it Thanksgiving already?" And that thought leads to considering all the things we have to do.  Shopping, cooking and traveling just to name a few things on our already overloaded to-do list. The last thing we think of is “giving thanks” at Thanksgiving. This is especially true at work when everybody attempts to wrap things up so they can take a few days off and enjoy the holiday.

Whether you call it gratitude, appreciation, or recognition, it feels good to give and to receive it. It's no wonder that it's considered the "gold standard" of positive practices by psychologists and is linked to overall psychological well-being (Winslow, Kaplan, S., Bradley-Geist, Lindsey, Ahmad, Hargrove, & Kaplan, S. A., 2017). Your workplace may have programs in place to recognize and thank employees, and those things are great, but nothing feels better than receiving a genuine expression of appreciation from either a fellow employee or your boss. 

In our fast-paced and performance-driven work environments, we don’t often take the time to express gratitude. When we fail to notice that someone made that extra effort, it leaves them feeling that their actions didn’t matter. When employees are asked how they would like to receive this acknowledgment, of course, they regularly say something of monetary value.  But surprisingly, a genuine expression of appreciation delivered via a handwritten note is a close second on most lists. If you need more convincing of the power gratitude, a study completed by OfficeTeam, found that two-thirds of employees responded they are likely to leave their job if they didn’t feel appreciated.

Whether you're the boss or a member of the team, why not use the Holiday season to begin a yearlong practice to show your appreciation? One simple way to do this is to write a personal note.  Today when no one writes anything, a handwritten note is a unique artifact that demonstrates the person writing the note went above and beyond.  Expressing thanks to colleagues may feel awkward or counter-cultural in your workplace, but it's worth the risk to make someone’s day.

Find your pen and paper stuck in the back of the draw and write a personal note to someone at work.  It doesn’t have to be a long, detailed note. The only essential ingredient is an authentic expression of gratitude.


Drazkowski, Dariusz, Kaczmarek, Lukasz D., & Kashdan, Todd. B. (2017). Gratitude pays: A week gratitude intervention influences monetary decision, physiological responses, and emotional experiences during a trust-related social interaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 110, 148-153.

Fehr, Ryan, Fulmer, Ashley, Awtrey, Eli A., & Miller, Jared A. (2017). The Grateful Workplace: Multilevel Model of Gratitude in Organizations. Academy of Management Review, 42(2), 363-381.

OfficeTeam (2017).

Winslow, C. J., Kaplan, S., Bradley-Geist, J., Lindsey, A. P., Ahmad, A. S., Hargrove, A. K., & Kaplan, S. A. (2017). An examination of two positive organizational interventions: For whom do these interventions work? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(2), 129-137. doi:10.1037/ocp0000035


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