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Gratitude In Organizations - How It Contributes To Healthy Organizations


Even though the term "gratitude" or its grammatical counterpart is found in almost every language, the notion has been seldom studied in the social sciences or organizational psychology.

Traditionally, gratitude is a crucial component in the framework of positive psychology, and it has been examined in connection to happiness.

Recent studies have focused on gratitude in organizations, examining not only the relationship between gratitude and well-being but also the relationship with other variables, including relational aspects such as positive relationships and social support at work, prosocial organizational behaviors, organizational citizenship behaviors, and teamwork and altruism.

Additionally, gratitude appears as a significant determinant in connection to efficiency, success, productivity, and work performance.

Thus, gratitude might be seen as a potential strategy for boosting organizational health and performance. Consequently, thankfulness is acknowledged as a valuable resource for people and businesses.

COPYRIGHT_SZ: Published on https://stationzilla.com/gratitude-in-organizations/ by Dr. Cooney Blades on 2022-08-08T09:21:48.684Z

Defining Gratitude

The Latin word gratia, which signifies grace, graciousness, or thanks, is where the word "gratitude" originated. All terms derived from this Latin root "have to do with kindness, generosity, the beauty of giving and receiving, or gaining something for free," according to their definitions.

Both human and non-human sources, such as God, the natural world, and animals, may be given gratitude. Because it is the final consequence of a cognitive process that is defined in two steps, it is an attribution-dependent state.

People notice that they have attained a favorable outcome connected to joyful sentiments in the first stage. People ascribe their satisfaction to outside factors in the second stage, which establishes a connection between joy and gratitude.

According to Ortony et al., the appreciation and happiness that people feel when they receive a gift from a benefactor are both components of gratitude.

Gratitude is an empathetic feeling. In actuality, individuals can only feel gratitude when they acknowledge and value what another person has accomplished for them.

McCullough et al. define gratitude as "a broad inclination to identify and react with thankful feelings to the roles of other people's kindness in the beneficial experiences and results that one enjoys."

As the phrase developed, the construct's multidimensionality became apparent. Watkins et al. identified three aspects of gratitude:

  • A sense of abundance—people that are grateful don't feel deprived in terms of their own lives.
  • Simple appreciation—a trait that may be used to identify grateful individuals is their propensity to value modest pleasures.
  • Appreciation of others—people who are thankful may recognize how others have helped them to be happy.

Gratitude at Work - 4 Ways to be More Grateful at Work

The other eight aspects of gratitude are as follows:

  • Interpersonal—appraisal of other people's appreciation.
  • Personal assets—accentuate both tangible and intangible assets.
  • Present moment—focus on the present moment.
  • Rituals of gratitude—to serve as a reminder to be thankful.
  • Astonishment—how often someone can stay mesmerized.
  • Social comparisons—when we compare our lives to those of others and feel good about ourselves.
  • Appreciation of life in general—from knowing that it is not endless.
  • Expression of gratitude—when people show how grateful they are.

Four Keys To Gratitude At Work

Of course, not every effort to foster gratitude in the workplace ends in touching discoveries or selfless deeds.

Initiatives to express appreciation may not be well received for a variety of reasons, including the possibility that they would be seen as hollow tokens of concern for employees' welfare that can be promoted in company brochures. Some individuals can be reluctant to express their gratitude and acknowledge their debt to others because they think doing so shows weakness.

Even if the program is well-liked overall, certain workers could feel excluded if they seldom get gratitude or acknowledgment. Programs that promote gratitude and appreciation may seem like one more thing that workers don't have time for in the hectic contemporary workplace, of course.

However, business executives and academics have found several methods for avoiding these difficulties and enjoying the advantages of a more grateful workplace. Here are their top four suggestions.

Gratitude Is Regarding The Whole Person

Some gratitude programs, according to author and consultant Mike Robbins, fall short of creating anything new: they just reuse recognition programs that have been around for a while. According to him, appreciation acknowledges your innate value as a person, while recognition rewards performance and achievement—what you do as a worker. It's the difference between praising a kind and generous attitude and celebrating record-breaking sales.

Gratitude Is Not A One-Size-Fits-All

When businesses embrace gratitude, they often make the mistake of assuming that everyone wants to be recognized in the same manner.

Because we are all unique, we all desire to be recognized for various things. It is our responsibility to acknowledge the qualities of our coworkers, even if those strengths vary from our own, since workplaces might bring together various individuals with different sorts of communication styles, histories, and skills.

The important thing is that we can all learn from one another. Instead of becoming upset, it's gratifying to see that someone else is truly perceiving things differently than I would. Consequently, we may learn to value that.

Leaders Must Have An Attitude Of Gratitude

People might feel guilty and self-indulgent for taking the time to meditate at work or maintain a gratitude journal in a society that values productivity and tireless success. It's been ingrained in us that the busier we are, the more successful we'll be.

Employees at Southwest who had worked there for a certain number of years would get pins from the company (like 5 or 10). To better uphold their gratitude culture, they now send the pins to leaders and request that they acknowledge and congratulate the employee in a unique way.

This turns gratitude from a faceless present into a chance to strengthen relationships. Having leaders engage in both situations sends the message that gratitude and well-being are important.

However, gratitude is something that cannot be forced. When it is also adopted from the bottom up and when workers take the initiative, gratitude will really take root. For instance, SIYLI's office lacks a defined program of gratitude.

But since it's ingrained in their culture, staff members often express gratitude at the start and conclusion of meetings during "check-ins." It can be ideal to emphasize the importance of gratitude while also providing several chances and ways for exercising it.

Gratitude Must Be Incorporated In The Culture

Consistency is one of the secrets to a successful program. For instance, including a brief exercise in gratitude in employee meetings or including it in corporate communications keeps it top-of-mind.

It all comes down to cultivating an attitude of gratitude in the workplace. Organizations must treat their workers properly as a minimum, and on top of that, they must provide programs that assist employees in seeing all of these advantages.

Even if an organization practices gratitude intensely, it cannot be assumed that this will be sufficient. Establishing specific appreciation practices within the larger business is critical in order to foster a thankful culture.

Expressing gratitude for someone else's ideas and efforts conveys that you value them.

Giving Thanks at Work: Leading with Gratitude

Gratitude And Positive Psychology

Gratitude is defined in the context of positive psychology as an appreciation of all the good things in one's own life. The effects of gratitude on happiness and establishing healthy relationships have been explored.

Gratitude has a positive correlation with optimism and hope and a negative correlation with envy, despair, and anxiety.

Watkins et al. found that emotional and cognitive elements of well-being and gratitude had a moderate to high link. In research by Froh et al., gratitude was shown to have beneficial associations with good effect, life satisfaction, optimism, and social support.

Additionally, the relationship between gratitude and well-being is partly, but not entirely, mediated by emotion and belief. In addition, gratitude is a better predictor of psychological health than the Big Five personality characteristics.

A study found that, after adjusting for gender, age, religion, the Big Five personality traits, and unifactorial gratitude, higher-order gratitude, which consists of multiple components (i.e., thanking others, thanking God, cherishing blessings, appreciating hardship, and cherishing the moment), explained variance in integrated mental well-being in terms of depression, self-esteem, and psychological well-being (GQ).

Gratitude In Organizations

Despite the fact that the concept of gratitude in organizations has not been completely explored, research highlights and supports its crucial role in successful organizations. Gratitude is essential in business because it directly affects how the working environment is improved, helps employee well-being, and lessens unfavorable feelings like envy and rancor.

Employee effectiveness, success, production, and loyalty are also impacted. Thus, gratitude seems to be a priceless asset that supports performance. The expression of gratitude in the workplace also fosters psychological safety at work.

Psychological security is defined as the extent to which individuals feel free to voice their opinions at work, even if doing so would reflect poorly on them.

In other words, this gives people the confidence to take social risks. High-psychologically secure workers are certain that others won't treat them unfairly if they seek assistance.

Being an "antidote against poisonous emotions in the workplace," particularly against jealousy and the impression of unfairness, both of which might have a detrimental impact on performance, is part of the reason why gratitude has such a good impact on organizational well-being. The feeling of support from coworkers or bosses, for instance, is favorably influenced by gratitude, which in turn increases satisfaction with interpersonal components of the job.

Those who are grateful feel better, and their improved well-being makes them more likely to see their coworkers favorably. This enhances organizational citizenship behaviors and strengthens reciprocity, collaboration, and altruism. Additionally, showing gratitude makes sure that employees are acknowledged for their efforts towards the company.

Gratitude and organizational citizenship behaviors—actions employees do in their workplaces to support, uphold, and enhance the organizational context—have been shown to be correlative. They are directly related to how well you do your work.

The relationship between gratitude and organizational citizenship behaviors highlights how appreciation serves as a moral motivator, encouraging individuals to act in a charitable manner. Social exchange theory provides an explanation for how appreciation serves as a moral motivator and sheds light on corporate citizenship practices.

According to this viewpoint, people engage in organizational citizenship behaviors because they feel obligated to return the favors shown to them by their leaders and the company as a whole; otherwise, they would not be aware of such activities.

Measuring Gratitude

The Gratitude Questionnaire-6 is the first survey designed to gauge gratitude. This tool views gratitude as a widespread inclination to acknowledge and express gratitude for the kindness of others.

It is unidimensional and consists of six statements, such as "I am grateful to a broad range of individuals" and "I have so much in life to be grateful for." McCullough et al. created a brief instrument called the Gratitude Adjective Checklist, which consists of three adjectives, in accordance with the same description of the concept (grateful, thankful, and appreciative).

Questionnaires to assess gratitude as a multidimensional phenomenon were subsequently created. The 44-item Gratitude Resentment and Appreciation Test measures three dimensions: a sense of abundance ("Life has been good to me"), straightforward appreciation ("Often I'm just amazed at how beautiful the sunset is"), and appreciation of others ("I couldn't have gotten where I am today without the help of many people").

A group of people applauding while a man gives a woman a handshake
A group of people applauding while a man gives a woman a handshake

The Appreciation Scale, which gauges the eight aspects listed by Adler and Fagley, is another multidimensional questionnaire. It is made up of 57 parts.

The eight dimensions are: interpersonal ("I remind myself to value my family"); personal assets ("I remind myself to think about the good things in my life"); present moment ("I stop and enjoy my life as it is"); rituals ("I stop to give thanks for my food before I eat"); astonishment ("I have moments when I realize how fortunate I am to be alive"); and social comparison ("I think of people who are less fortunate than I am to help me feel more satisfied with my life.").

The State Thankfulness Scale was created by Spence et al. to assess the real experience of gratitude, which is conceived as a transient, distinct, and episodic state. It consists of five parts: "I feel glad," "I feel a warm feeling of gratitude," "I have benefitted from the benevolence of others," and two more. But according to this survey, the concept of thankfulness is one-dimensional.

The Perceived Appreciation Scale, a nine-item survey developed by Martini et al. two years later, especially assesses consumers' perceptions of gratitude toward socio-sanitary operators. The scale assesses consumers' expressions of gratitude in two dimensions. Gratitude is a source of comfort ("Several users express gratitude for the care we provide them") and support ("Some users' gratitude makes up for the efforts you put in at work").

People Also Ask

What Is The Role Of Gratitude In Organizations?

When it comes to organizational life, gratitude is more than simply a positive feeling. It has several advantages for a firm. An employee will gain from feeling more appreciated by their superiors, which will boost their perception of their value to the company.

What Is Gratitude In The Workplace?

One of the most important components of leading a positive life is gratitude. Gratitude exercises have numerous beneficial consequences at work. One basic requirement of workers is to feel respected and appreciated. Those who feel appreciated are more likely to be dependable, effective, and content in their jobs.

Why Is Gratitude Important In Leadership?

Organizations want CEOs who can demonstrate genuine empathy, foster a psychologically secure work environment, and lead change well in light of the increasing employee departure rate.

How Does Gratitude Increase Productivity?

Gratitude gestures are more than simply sentimental acts; they can actively energise and encourage. In one workplace investigation, researchers looked at two teams of university fundraisers. The director gave one group a one-on-one motivational speech and congratulated them for their work.


According to a positive psychology perspective, gratitude is seen as a core personal resource and a prospective personal strength in the corporate setting. Gratitude really seems to be essential for workers' effectiveness, success, productivity, and well-being.

Future studies should focus on the connections between gratitude and effectiveness, achievement, and productivity in various organizational situations in light of these encouraging results.

Future studies on the connection between gratitude and well-being in organizational environments may also look at the link between gratitude and both hedonic and eudaimonic well-being.

Developing healthy connections, a key component of good organizations, and creating new, constructive ways to view organizational relationships all seem to depend on gratitude.

Although it has been noted that there are relationships between gratitude in organizations and prosocial organizational behaviors, organizational citizenship behaviors, and social support at work, it is also possible to examine gratitude in relation to the new construct of workplace relational civility, which includes relational decency, relational culture, and relational readiness, as well as the new construct of acceptance of change.

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About The Authors

Dr. Cooney Blades

Dr. Cooney Blades

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