Companies often thank consumers by sending them discounts, cards, and freebies. In the B2B space, firms often say thanks in December with gift baskets and bottles of wine.

In its purest form, gratitude is both an emotional response and a choice we make to appreciate something. How common is it in business? In a survey done by the John Templeton Foundation, respondents were least likely to express gratitude while on the job. Even if they were tempted to positively acknowledge another’s actions, they kept it to themselves. Here’s the kicker, though: 93% agreed that when leaders exhibited gratefulness, they were more likely to succeed. In other words, just about everyone knows the value of gratitude. They just don’t express it as much at work.

The benefits of gratitude are significant. It helps create a stronger sense of belonging between employees and employers, ultimately leading to improved productivity (and according to Harvard Business Review, a 50% drop when it comes to turnover risk). It also creates stronger connections with customers and vendors.

To investigate how marketers can leverage gratitude for success, I’m running a series. In this article, I asked five corporate leaders to identify what makes gratefulness so influential in business. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Gratitude reminds workers that they truly matter.

Many employees want to feel like a part of something bigger than themselves and that their work matters. When they’re showered with gratitude, they begin to realize just how meaningful their contributions are. Baking gratitude into everyday work doesn’t have to be limited to verbal kudos, though. BELFOR Property Restoration CEO Sheldon Yellen recommends coming up with creative ways to honor employees and colleagues.

“I believe that actions speak louder than words,” Yellen says. “Performing small acts of kindness and spreading gratitude—holding the door open for the next person, smiling and saying ‘thank you,’ or offering a compliment—could make a big impact on someone’s day.” In his experience, showing this kind of thoughtfulness encourages team members to remain passionate about their work and its worth.

2. Gratitude helps you make solid decisions for your people.

Successful marketing teams require dedicated employees. When you focus on seeking opportunities to express gratitude, you essentially prioritize the needs of your team. This is especially important in today’s tight labor market. As Danielle Itani, Director of Marketing at Innovative Employee Solutions suggests, “People are assets, not expenses—so it is important for companies to show gratitude for their most valuable asset: their people.”

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Itani goes on to say that putting people ahead of profits might help differentiate companies keen to compete in a post-pandemic world where more people are concerned about mental wellness and work-life balance. However, she advises that gratitude should be embraced by every manager and leader instead of just a few. “It’s more impactful from a top-down approach that starts with senior leadership,” she says. “It’s great to be acknowledged by your boss, but there’s another level of appreciation when this message comes from the CEO of the company!”

3. Gratitude fuels problem-solving.

Have you had trouble getting your workers to think outside the box? Their biggest obstacle might be the fear of saying something wrong or having their ideas slapped down. Showing gratitude for the inputs rather than just the outputs can motivate effortful work. Pariveda’s VP of People, Tom Cunningham, suggests: “Gratitude is about recognizing the gifts we’ve been given and realizing that they came to us from outside ourselves.”

So expressing gratitude for ideas and engagement can give team members permission to innovate. Cunningham further explains that espousing gratitude brings optimism, hope, and brightness into the company culture. As a result, you can get yourself unstuck faster when you encounter trouble spots that require deep attention and crowdsourced contemplation. “Reflecting on the positive aspects of our lives helps us focus on opportunities in front of us and keeps us from dwelling on obstacles that we might see as blocking our path,” he says.

4. Gratitude is the foundation for strong vendor relationships.

Alison Gutterman, CEO and president of Jelmar, heralds gratitude as one way to build loyalty with the third parties you rely upon. In addition to answering emails, questions, and calls from vendors in a timely manner, Gutterman makes it a team mission to deliver products on time, every time, through vendor collaborations. “These small acts add up to create a culture that says, ‘we are grateful for you,’ versus one that is combative,” she says. “It certainly helped us during the pandemic. We bent over backward to ensure that our retail and B2B partners had the products they needed on hand to serve their customers.” This kind of diligence toward relentless gratitude can buoy your brand’s reputation and credibility among all stakeholders.

5. Gratitude raises team health and well-being.

Strong businesses aren’t possible without strong, healthy teams. For this reason, gratitude is a key component of Kelly Knight’s company. As President of EOS Worldwide, Knight relies on expressions of gratitude to foster a healthier workplace. “Feeling valued and appreciated is ranked No. 1 on most employee surveys these days as to what people need most,” explains Knight.

How can you incorporate gratitude into your routine as a leader? Knight thanks her coworkers consistently. She’s also not afraid to be vulnerable and authentic. Why? “It turns out we’re all in the people business,” she says. “There’s a not-so-magic formula to building a positive and healthy people-centric organization, and it’s expressed as: gratitude + love = genuine care and concern for others. In the increasingly complex and challenging world within which we live, gratitude is the path to serving the deepest needs of our people.”

Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler

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