As children, one of the first life lessons we absorb is the importance of saying "thank you". I'm experiencing this now as I watch my grandchildren grow up - it's not only heartwarming to hear those little voices appreciate their afternoon snack, but it's an important part of being a member of our society.

But as we grow older, and certainly in the business world, we need to start to look deeper into what gratitude really means for us. It's not just about being polite. Research shows that living a life with sincere gratitude can lower our blood pressure, improve our sleep and even reduce depression. It's a positive emotion that centers us while increasing our sense of well-being and growing the relationships around us.

5 ways we show gratitude in our daily work life

At the Global Custom Commerce (dba Blinds.com) office in Houston, our team takes saying 'thank you' to a new level. Here are a few ways:

1. Be grateful for your past - We must understand and salute the past in order to be in sync for a successful future. In our office, we take this quite literally! When you on-board at GCC, your very first day of work is taken over by hopping into a van for a citywide company history tour to physically experience our different office locations and important parts of our company story. Within our office, we recreated a physical alleyway used to reach our very first 800sqf office (with brick walls, graffiti and rat traps!), ensuring each employee experiences what it was like in the early days. Our meeting rooms are all named and decorated in honor of important company historical points - 'Bernie and Arthur' (in honor of our Home Depot) founders), 'Bobbleheads' (full of our growing bobbleheads collections in honor of the custom bobblehead figures I had made for each associate years ago) and 'The Garage' (in honor of the location the where I launched our company over 20 years ago), to name just a few.

2. Cross departmental appreciation - An important part of running a successful organization is nurturing strong partnerships across departments. Our Sales and Service teams have kicked off a traveling department trophy that they award to a partner group that has made a difference to them that month. The accompanying catered 'thank you' breakfast for the winning team is also a big hit! It's a great way to build camaraderie and ensure your colleagues feel appreciated for going the extra mile for you.

3. You're a VIP - Whether it's a Homer award or a department's internal VIP trophy, offering frequent and specific physical tokens to honor an associate's achievements and dedication is powerful indeed. It's important to provide different levels of opportunity to share appreciation. That way, associates have a channel to say a quick 'thank you' via a brag card, a pair of theater tickets or a flashy trophy to display on their desk.

4. Share the love - One of our more popular associate appreciation events is the annual 'Love Day'. Don't call HR, it's far tamer than it sounds! In an off season 'secret Santa' of sorts, our team selects one week a year to be assigned a random co-worker, find out what makes them happy and shower them with surprises throughout the week to show their gratitude.

And boy did our team deliver, a few examples:

-A mother-to-be received personalized parenting advice and handwritten encouragement notes with framed letters spelling out her son's name to hang in the nursery

-An office scavenger hunt throughout the week, leading the associate to the next day's clue and photos of cute puppies (yes, really)

-Surprise poetry recitations by co-workers throughout the week

-An associate was crowned "Princess for a Day" replete with wand, crown and office attendants

Then, of course, there's the most powerful method of them all - just say "thanks!" And when you do, remember TTSP: be sure that your feedback is Timely (don't collect compliments until the next meeting or annual review), Truthful, Specific (not just "Hey Leo, you're awesome!"), and Positive (no compliment sandwiches).

Thank you for reading and adding to your own office culture of gratitude!

Published on: Jun 8, 2017
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