With so much going on the world right now, the last thing you need to add to your plate is workplace drama. Turf wars, mean-spirited gossip, and battles over blame aren't just bad for everyone's sanity. They also take a serious toll on your productivity and the bottom line (one Stanford professor contends you'd be shocked by your TCJ, or total cost of jerks).
How do you tame the drama? Not hiring big, abrasive egos in the first place certainly helps, as does firing egregious offenders. But the truth is even decent employees can sometimes stir up trouble when stress is high. Ideally, you don't just want to eliminate monsters but get everyone behaving more thoughtfully.
Handily, a new study suggests a simple, free way to do just that -- just get your people to spend a few minutes each day keeping a gratitude journal.
Gratitude kills gossip
It's well established that creating any sort of ritual that forces you to count your blessings rather than dwelling on your problems makes people happier and more optimistic individually. But researchers out of the University of Central Florida went a step further. They wanted to see if expressing gratitude could also affect behavior at work.
To test the idea, the researchers asked several hundred employees to spend a few minutes a day listing things they're grateful for. Their colleagues then reported back on how much jerk-like behavior the test subjects engaged in over the two weeks of the study. The findings were recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology and are good news for those who hate office drama.
Participants who wrote in gratitude journals participated in significantly less gossip, rudeness, and backstabbing at work, according to their colleagues.
"We found the gratitude journal is a simple, inexpensive intervention that can have a significant impact on changing employee behavior for the better," said Lauren Locklear, a doctoral student who collaborated on the study.
The easiest jerk-busting intervention out there
This isn't the first study to show that habits that boost mental well-being in general can also help eliminate office drama. Another study last year showed just seven minutes a day of meditation makes people much less likely to be jerks at work. But meditation requires at least a little training. Writing down a list of things you're grateful for demands nothing fancier than a pen and paper, and you can start doing it today.
Which is why this finding should be music to the ears of bosses. For literally zero cost and the bare minimum of hassle you could have a more peaceful, productive office. All you need to do is nudge your people to count their blessings every day.