We’ve all been there: that feeling when someone says thank you but all you hear
is "your work doesn’t really matter." It shows up with the infamous “tx” after
that late-night email thread. Or the after-meeting “thanks” with absolutely,
positively no eye contact. Or the thank you that was never actually stated—they
just assumed you knew.
Inauthentic gratitude is awful. I swear, you can almost _hear_ the souls being
sucked away. 😱
But here’s the thing: gratitude is incredibly powerful when it’s done well.
increasing positive emotions, heightening life satisfaction, and lowering
"negative" emotions like depression, anxiety, and envy. It kind of sounds like a
miracle drug, right? ✨
And for companies, these benefits are even more impactful. Gratitude at work increases job satisfaction
and creates an environment where employees act as good
towards the common good, not just individual success. And, gratitude is
which leads to cultural resilience when a team hits harder times.
So, how can we express gratitude in a meaningful way? How do we build a culture
of gratitude so expressing gratitude is easy?
Make gratitude personal
It’s easy to think that gratitude should be oriented around the company as a
employees experience gratitude around events. For example, small moments in time
where they give or receive gratitude. From there, individuals start to build a
mindset of gratitude — what researchers call "persistent
And this is where it gets good: persistent gratitude in individuals is what
creates the collective, company-wide mindset and culture of gratitude. This
works because gratitude is inherently
relational — you
show appreciation for someone else, which builds a stronger relationship. As
this happens repeatedly across a company, the network of relationships built on
What does this mean in practice? Share individual, personalized gratitude with
your team. Being personal is important because people give and receive gratitude
in different ways (a la the 5 Love
I recently polled my own team to ask how they prefer to be thanked and got
myriad answers ranging from handwritten thank-you notes to having someone show
attention to them or having their experience and learnings be clearly valued. So
if you want your teammate to feel the gratitude you have for their work, you
need to be mindful of how they want to receive it. Asking them is the easiest
way to find out.
Make gratitude frequent
Counter to conventional wisdom that gratitude is only meaningful
when it’s scarce, gratitude is most impactful when it’s "[frequent and
Research into emotions, including gratitude, shows that high-intensity and
the most impact. This lines up with research on feedback that shows the amount
In practice, you have to make gratitude a habit, so it happens frequently and
isn’t heavyweight for you or your team. Companies often implement lightweight
gratitude through systems for shoutouts or peer bonuses.
At the team level, a daily process for gratitude helps your team build a habit
and ensure that gratitude is a frequent occurrence. At Range we build gratitude
into our daily written standups by including "Thanks" shoutouts as moments of
Take time to reflect on gratitude
When researching this post, one of the most surprising things I learned was that
gratitude gets more powerful when you ruminate on it. We often think about
rumination through a negative light. Late-night anxiety ruminations are never
fun. But revisiting positive emotions can be helpful.
The more you reflect on and bask in your positive emotions, like gratitude, the
for teams, the more you reflect on the gratitude you’ve shared, the more the
team will feel gratitude, creating a positive cycle.
Weekly team meetings or retrospectives are a great opportunity to reflect on the
gratitude that was shared throughout the week. In meetings, you can take a
moment to go into more depth about the gratitude you feel towards a teammate.
The benefits of expressing gratitude can’t be overstated. A team that has a
culture of gratitude works better together, supports one another’s work, and
doesn't focus on transactional interactions.
As the research on gratitude grows, we’re only learning more about its positive
impact and the benefits that teams and companies can reap from building a
culture of gratitude.
Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear how you and your team share
gratitude. Feel free to reach out on Twitter @upstartgirl.