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Saying thanks: How to practice gratitude with your team

And how we developed a practice of gratitude in the workplace

November 17, 2021

The importance of gratitude in the workplace

Each November, with the start of the holiday season, many of us talk about the importance of gratitude and the things we’re thankful for. And with the end of the year approaching, there’s hardly a better time to pause, reflect on the many things we’ve accomplished with our team, and begin planning ways to build on what we’ve learned over the past year.

During this time, we’re especially good at recognizing teammates’ hard work and achievements, and we do a great job of expressing our gratitude in a variety of ways. But when the new year rolls around, this seasonal disposition to share the gift of gratitude tends to disappear with the holiday decorations.

Sharing gratitude at work is essential, and it’s powerful and impactful year-round (not just during November and December). Numerous studies show that receiving gratitude:

  • Increases job satisfaction
  • Boosts employee engagement and motivation
  • Encourages us to work harder
  • Increases team resilience
  • Improves employee retention

To reap these benefits of gratitude in the workplace gratitude must become part of your practice — how your team works. In this piece, we’ll share with you what that can look like and how our own team has found success in building a culture of gratitude.

Start small and steady with daily habits

Is there a moment or virtual destination that brings your team together each day or every other day? Maybe it’s a quick team sync, a brief huddle in Slack, or the sharing of asynchronous updates — what we at Range call Check-ins.

Whatever the moment might be, identify (or create) and consider how you can introduce gratitude as a practice. Team sync or huddle? Encourage people to thank teammates that have recently helped to unblock their work. Async updates in Slack or over email? Add “Thanks, [Name], for [reason for appreciation]” to your message.

How we do this at Range

We built a tool for teams to ensure everyone can easily find out what’s happening, communicate about their work, and build better work habits. Each day, we head to Range to compose a check-in in which we:

  • Share what we plan to work on next
  • Highlight recent progress and links to work
  • Connect with our team through a team-building question and mood sharing (https://www.range.co/blog/knowing-how-your-team-is-feeling-matters)

Within those first two sections, we are able to flag and tag specific items. When we want to say thank you, we can attach the Thanks, Celebrate, or Kudos flags to a specific check-in item, or we can tag an item with #Gratitude. These flags and tags, along with @mentions, ensure our team and the specific teammate we’re grateful to see the thank you.

Reinforce the habit during recurring team meetings

The gratitude we talked about in the previous section is what is called episodic gratitude — gratitude experienced at specific moments in time when we feel appreciated by someone. As we witness and experience these moments of gratitude more frequently, we begin to feel grateful more consistently and regard work more positively. It is this persistent gratitude in individuals that creates the collective, company-wide mindset and culture of gratitude.

How might you get there? Try reinforcing your team’s developing practice of gratitude by including it in recurring meetings. You probably already do this from time to time in your weekly or bi-weekly team meetings and all-hands. Again, this doesn’t have to be grand — recognizing and saying thank you for excellent work, shoutouts for your team members during all-hands, acknowledgment for going that extra mile during a recent sprint. Now, instead of allowing it to continue as a sporadic event, make it consistent.

How we do this at Range

All of the teams at Range operate on two-week cycles. As a company, we have three all-hands during that time — two weekly briefings on the first and second Mondays and one cycle recap on the second Friday. Let’s talk about our recap.

We start each week add end each cycle as a team. After a brief opening round where we check-in as a team, we jump into our personal reflections. This includes our highlights, lowlights, and any noble failures we have to share from the cycle. Before we get to reinforcing our practice of gratitude, we reinforce the trust and psychological safety that is key to our functioning as a healthy team.

Then begins the third item on our agenda: Team celebration.

As we like to do, our team comes together in real-time to collaborate in acknowledging and appreciating the work we’ve completed during the two-week cycle we’re closing out. We all add screenshots, gifs, messages, and reactions to a Figjam board — work we’ve completed and work others have done — and take some time to recognize and celebrate our achievements. Each cycle recap receives its own board, and each of them ends up just as colorfully collaborative as the one above (if not more).

While we’re all busy adding content to the board, there’s a very good chance we’ll end up seeing a live screenshot of our faces captured and added to the board’s Gratitude Corner. As part of our reflection of the work we’ve completed during the past cycle, we also set aside time — and an actual place on the board — to say thank you to our teammates. “Thank you for that last-minute review that allowed us to launch a new feature.” “Thanks for the honest feedback on Project X.” “Thanks for planning our virtual team offsite!” We prioritize recognition, appreciation, and gratitude throughout the entire cycle, but it is particularly reinforced during this time in our recap. We’re reminded why we work so hard each week, how we accomplish our objectives (through teamwork), and reestablish our connections with one another.

Conclusion

For all of the reasons we mentioned at the beginning of this piece — and because it genuinely makes work that much more enjoyable — we prioritize and reinforce sharing gratitude on our team. When something about the way we work grows stale, or if we realize something is missing, we fix it. We worked gratitude into our existing work habits, and then we built it into the product we use every day as a team. Whether you use some of our ideas here, tweak them, or try something from one of the sources we’ve linked, experiment and find what works for your team.

Saying thanks: How to practice gratitude with your team
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