Gratitude in the Workplace | Offices Employees Will Be Thankful For

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This is typically the time of year when we stop and reflect on what is most important. We take stock of all we are thankful for and the small blessings in our lives that we typically take for granted: family, friends, food in our mouths and roofs over our heads. Unfortunately, the thing that we do five days a week seldom receives a mention. This is not to say that anyone is ungrateful – we’re in dozens of work environments every week, and have found that most individuals exhibit gratitude in the workplace. While we may be thankful for the funds in our bank account, the work that puts it there rarely brings us enough joy to make it to our gratitude list.

So, since people spend 1/3 of their entire lives in the workplace, how can employers make it an environment that breaks into the top ten?

The landscape of our workplaces is changing. An improving economy means stiffer competition for talent – and that competition has turned into an arms race. However, it seems as if organizations on the whole aren’t keeping up. Gallup reports only 33% of employees are actively engaged at their job, and that disengagement is a primary incentive to leave. So, it’s not surprising that 51% of those respondents said they’re also actively searching for other positions. And, if someone does leave, the Work Institute reports that it costs 33% of that persons annual salary to replace them.

So, in the spirit of furthering engagement and productivity, we’ve put together some suggestions and resources for cultivating environments that foster gratitude in the workplace.

High Costs of Low Engagement

Only 33% of workers report feeling actively engaged at their position
51% of workers reported actively seeking new positions
50-60% of Millennials would change jobs for greater flexibility
It costs 33% of an annual salary to replace an employee

Environmental Factors

Even before employees walk into a space, you can create an environment that facilitates a positive energy. Thoughtful design and intentional branding can put employees at ease, encouraging them to want to come to work and spend time there. Here are a few places to start:

workplace gratitude | gratitude in the workplace
WeWork London’s woodgrain common space

Add some color to create purposeful energies in different spaces. For example adding red to a room promotes energy, warmth and strength. Blue is associated with safe communication and trust. While yellow allows for emotion, optimism and confidence. And green allows for balance, rest and peace. Use these different colors throughout the office to promote varying moods in office workstations.

Regulate the temperature, and pay attention to how people are responding to it. Make it cool enough where people aren’t falling asleep, but not so cold that they can’t focus.

Natural Lighting
Many studies show that having natural light exposure throughout the day improves quality of life. Employees sleep better at night and as a result are more productive during the day.

Office Workstation Alternatives
Find a balance between space for alone time and places where minds can meet, intentionally and by chance. Both types cultivate productivity and collaboration.

Plants are an inexpensive and quick way to improve your office workstations. They are proven to lower levels of anxiety, raise job satisfaction and improve overall well-being.

Physical Comfortability
Environmental factors all play a role in how comfortable an occupant is in a workspace: lighting, climate and noise. Beyond the built environment is your furniture, which is more important because it’s constantly in contact with the occupant. Investing in high-quality task chairs, comfortable common area seating and standing desks are great places to start.

FF&E Factors

Set your team up for success by having the necessary equipment, office furniture, and tools for a productive and fun work environment. Keep things organized, get feedback, and make accommodations to create a workplace that works as hard as its occupants.

If you can, give employees ownership of their space. Allow them to choose a standing or sitting desk, if they want to be sitting close to their team or in a more excluded space. Allow them to make their space comfortable for themselves and help them identify their own needs and desires within the workspace.

This goes beyond counting file cabinets and server space. Make available organizational tools that allow employees to create workspaces conducive to focus. Avoid clutter by creating consistent systems within your work stations.

A recent HBR survey of over 300 US executives found that a new class of collaboration tools is required, not preferred, to facilitate the pace of today’s digital teams. An information system has 5 parts – hardware, software, people, procedures, and data. Leverage devices and platforms with established processes to mitigate the ambiguity from humans and data.

In a study by Polycom, the most popular recommendations for improving trust in the workplace all had to do with flexiblility:

Equip workers with technology that is easy to use and which connects them to their colleagues (62%).

Ensure the same policies are applied to everyone in the business, regardless of seniority or situation (60%).

Provide guidelines on how to manage anywhere working (53%).

Cultural Factors

Creating a social workspace is the hardest part of cultivating a healthy work environment. It is much more difficult than decorating the space, arranging cubicles or purchasing the right office furniture. The process demands a larger amount of time and intentionality.

Create a Culture of Feedback
Employees are actually twice as likely to be unengaged if they feel like their managers are ignoring them. Statistics show that people perform better and more confidently when they have clear expectations and know how they are doing. 43% of highly engaged employees get feedback from their managers every week.  Make sure you are leaving space to hear from your employees, ask how they like working there, ask to know how you can improve, and let them know how they are doing.

Team Building
Take time to build the team together. Help them get to know each other, create trust and comfortability. Team building activity allows bonds to form, but it also helps teams learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses while building genuine friendships.

Break & Exercise
Give your team time off, encourage them to take breaks throughout the day. Short breaks during the work day have been shown to boost mental resources such as attention, ensuring good performance.

People who engage in respite activities during workday recovery breaks have higher levels of positive affect (observable expression of emotion) after the breaks, a study led by John Trougakos at the University of Toronto found.

Gratitude in the workplace begins with people fulfilled by both their work and the place(s) it occurs.

Hopefully, some of these ideas will get you inspired to help create office spaces your employees will love being a part of. Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies than their counterparts, and Gallup reports that companies with those engaged employees outperform those without by up to 21%. Want to cultivate a workspace your employees will be thankful for?