In recent years, and especially since the pandemic, some employers are spending more time focusing on a holistic approach to employee and customer satisfaction. A key ingredient in that mix is gratitude.

For many business owners, concepts like gratitude can err toward the mystical. They are, however, methods that can produce real results and benefits for a business. What's more, gratitude benefits your business both internally and externally.

Studies have shown that gratitude is lacking in the workplace, and highly valued when present. One study in 2020 from the Harvard Business Review found that gratitude at work can lead to a wide range of internal benefits, not the least of which are increased productivity and greater employee retention. For example, the HBR study found that employees, when asked to journal about gratitude, reported greater self-control and, according to those working around them, were less rude in the workplace.

As an added bonus, it just may be that expressing gratitude can have a positive impact on the individual happiness of those in your employ. Research on positive psychology has shown an association between gratitude and increased rates of personal well-being. According to the American Heart Association and Robert A. Emmons of University of California, Davis, being grateful can even reduce blood pressure by as much as 10 percent

Just how much benefit can your business get out of a staff that is more content with their lives?

From the customer angle, the main reason to express gratitude is pretty straightforward--It foments brand loyalty in the long term and ensures that customers keep coming back. So many businesses take their sales for granted. However, in the vast majority of cases, the customer has a universe of alternative vendors or service providers from which to choose. By proactively thanking your customers, you will set yourself apart from the entitled masses. When problems do arise, your customers will be that much more likely to forgive and forget if they have received a personalized expression of your gratitude.

So how can you build a culture of gratitude in the workplace? Here are five ideas that can get you started:

1. Send Thank You Cards to Your Clients

Expressing gratitude to customers is just good customer service. At my company, we help businesses send out handwritten messages to customers on a regular basis and our clients share their tremendous results. Many clients see an increase in repurchase rates, more positive ratings on sites like Yelp, and stronger referral programs.

Engage your staff in the process, too. By performing an act of gratitude, your employees will benefit from the act of kindness and just might be that much more positive about what they do.

2. Express Gratitude to Your Staff

Say thank you to your employees. It's easy, and it can happen in many ways. Schedule a surprise lunch for the team, thanking them for their efforts on a big project. Treat everyone to a coffee run on occasion. Our company gives shout out to someone during a weekly meeting. These gestures, whether big or small, will resonate across your company and make your staff more engaged and excited about what you do as a team.

3.​ Make It Work for Everyone

One person's version of gratitude might come with a lot of hearts and flowers, while another's might just be a simple statement of fact. Forcing a fit won't work, so work on tailoring expressions of gratitude to the individual whenever possible.

4. Remember Everyone

Don't just keep the gratitude for the top member of your sales team. Consider anyone and everyone from assistants to the C-suite. This can also include third-party service staff, such as custodial staff. Widening the circle of gratitude makes it more deeply felt by all.

5. Express Gratitude When Things Go Badly, Too

Finally, be grateful during the bad times, as well. This is a big one and it's easy to forget. Gratitude doesn't matter only when the going is good. When things go south, as they will do on occasion, make sure to express gratitude to your team then. This is perhaps when it will have the biggest impact, helping your employees to regroup and reframe at a critical time.

While being thankful doesn't cost anything, it is still rarely done. Take the time to thank those around you for their help and see your culture--and sales--strengthen.