The Power Of Gratitude And Generosity Is Clear
I recently had an intriguing discussion with Laurie Ruttimann when I was on her podcast, Puck Rock HR—should organizations teach gratitude and generosity?—and I found myself intrigued. As a child, I was taught to say “please” and “thank you.” I was more or less raised “right.” As a teenager, I was likely about as self-centered as anyone else around me (my brothers and sister would tell you this all day long)—and as an adult, I have come to the point in my life that gratitude and generosity are north-star values to me. I believe they make the world personally and professionally a better place.
So, Why Should Organizations Teach Gratitude And Generosity?
Most people think about profit, hierarchy, and order when hearing the words “corporate world.” That shouldn’t be surprising, since the business has been associated with superiors and subordinates for decades.
These expectations kept things going. Stable employment and salary were rewards for hard work, punctuality, and obedience.
Although that arrangement might not be entirely wrong, it has set the grounds for discontentment, inequality, and in the worst case, exploitation. Organizational structures reinforce a system that instills an inferiority complex among many employees.
After all, this framework starts much before people enter the workforce. Society often puts authority figures (parents, guardians, teachers) on pedestals, and others usually take their judgment as indisputable. Many people carry this mentality throughout their lives and apply it to other circumstances, dealing with ranks and hierarchies. As a result, they struggle with inferiority and feel less important than others.
On the other hand, businesses often use this outmoded system to establish workplaces that put profit first. Yet, that could hurt both company performance and employee satisfaction. It’s time to transform this structure and create a more empathetic corporate world.
Why Business Leaders Should Nurture An Empathetic Model
Some would say there’s no place for feelings, compassion, and tight-knit connections in the workplace. These typically believe that emotions equal vulnerability, leading to poor results and laziness. But what if the opposite is true? What if rigid and detached work environments hold companies back and cause people to feel miserable and demotivated?
Over 76% of employees who experienced empathy from their leaders say their engagement increased. Another 61% report that empathetic leadership makes them more innovative . People no longer believe that compensation and long-term contracts are enough to keep them in a company. Instead, they seek respect, understanding, and a safe space.
Despite what it used to be for a long time, the corporate world should transition from authoritarian structures to equity and inclusion. That is the best way to encourage workers to be who they are and bring their authentic selves to work.
It’s also necessary for keeping top talents and attracting diverse candidates. For instance, 62% of women of color said they were unlikely to leave their companies when they felt their life circumstances were respected and valued by their employers .
Various sources confirm that empathy is the key to retention. According to the EY Consulting survey, 90% of US workers believe empathetic leadership leads to higher job satisfaction, and 79% agree it decreases turnover.
But how can businesses practice empathy and make employees feel more comfortable in the workplace? The answer is gratitude and generosity.
The Importance Of Gratitude And Generosity
Tension tends to be among the most common feelings in work environments. Teams rush to deliver their projects, fearing their managers will decline them, and workers conceal their exhaustion to avoid getting fired.
They compete because that’s what the corporate culture taught them, allowing rivalry and antagonism to thrive. Moreover, many people avoid forming connections due to being afraid that they could cloud their judgment and imperil their performance. The result is a hostile atmosphere where employees have to put themselves and profit first, or their career advancement and jobs could be at stake. Leaders must lead by example to change these toxic situations.
Employers and managers should cultivate positivity and switch competition with generosity. Gratitude should replace fears and unease. These acts and emotions pose no risk to success and revenues. After all, everyone wants to be happy.
Satisfied people are more willing to go the extra mile at work and care deeply about their jobs. And satisfaction is the best fuel for good performance.
Although many businesses could fear that practicing generosity and gratitude as two principal behavior patterns in the workplace would waste their limited resource, these acts usually cost nothing. Yet, they give so much in return.
Gratitude makes people think about each other and acknowledge small instances of giving and receiving. It boosts positive emotions and energizes. Generosity has the same effect, and it’s among the principal pillars of empathy. This act is all about sharing, not leaving anyone behind, and making others feel good.
Thus, these two emotional expressions help people bond and know each other deeper. No wonder gratitude is often associated with oxytocin.
Although being generous and appreciative was always beneficial, it became increasingly significant during the pandemic.
How The Pandemic Makes Gratitude And Generosity More Important
The world has been wrapped up in uncertainty in the last 26 months. The pandemic forced people to coexist with fear and avoid close-proximity contact with others. The economic crisis added more fuel to the anxiety, making almost day a struggle. The workplace is no different.
Employees faced pressure they likely never did before, fearful for their well-being and struggling to keep up high-performance levels. But these circumstances and the Russia-Ukraine war also forced people to focus on empathy and demand a fairer society.
Social justice movements and the need for human-centric work environments are becoming louder. Hence, people from all walks of life are more willing to stand up for others and require a more inclusive approach.
But they’re also more grateful for everything they have, as the pandemic left no choice but to enjoy the little things and find comfort in loved ones and friends. When COVID-19 accelerated remote work, many employees started missing lunch break chatters and water-cooler moments at the office.
As a result, they became more appreciative of spending time with their coworkers and having face-to-face conversations. However, workers also started paying more attention to the company culture and how employers treat them.
Helpful and considerate business leaders gained even more sympathy, as people appreciated their care and understanding in challenging moments. That explains why 90% of employees say empathy is more significant since 2020 .
It’s easier to overcome hardships with the support of relevant individuals, including employers. Sadly, 46% of employees feel that their company’s efforts to be empathetic toward workers are dishonest.
Although many employers genuinely care about their staff, their workplace culture could be undermining them. Therefore, they should ingrain gratitude and generosity into their values and mission. It helps instill trust among employees and makes them feel safer. However, these two also benefit their performance and motivation.
Benefits Of Gratitude And Generosity In The Workplace
Creating a work environment where people feel free to express their gratitude and be generous reinforces camaraderie and deep connections. It develops a sense of ease that encourages people to enjoy the process and find passion in their projects. Instead of striving to be the workplace rockstars and number one, they will aim to contribute to a shared goal and mission. Employees must feel comfortable seeking joy in their jobs instead of rewards and recognition.
However, if coworkers see each other as rivals and managers as an intimidating authority, they will likely only work because they fear the consequences. Their productivity will also decrease, as they will focus on finishing the tasks instead of how they do them.
Workers often feel like another cog in the machine, particularly with large teams and offices in the corporate world. They can hardly see how their contribution makes a difference and the meaning behind their work. That’s why employers need to express gratitude and teach employees to do the same. They will learn to acknowledge when their coworkers achieve stellar results and recognize their value.
As a result, employees will be more enthusiastic about their work and participation in team projects. Moreover, they will be more willing to help their peers and ensure everyone has the necessary motivation to do their best.
Employers often disregard how significant it is how their employees perceive them. But if the dynamics are based on fear and authority, people will rarely go the extra mile for the company. Thus, workers will likely not take on challenging tasks, as they’ll doubt their capabilities and outcomes. The workplace atmosphere will be cold and discouraging.
When people feel uneasy expressing gratitude and see no point in generosity, communication becomes automatic, and antagonism grows. That leaves little to no place for developing a thriving community having teams that trust each other.
Expressing and feeling gratitude and generosity puts people in a better mood and increases their happiness. That also improves their wellness. Employees who learn and practice acts of kindness will have a better sleep quality, lower blood pressure, and higher energy. Moreover, their mindfulness will increase and help them notice good things.
Workplaces that prioritize gratitude and generosity also curb stress and provide a healthier environment. That also sets a more productive and efficient atmosphere.
Although many business leaders believe that the corporate culture must center around profit and strict codes, that can lower employee motivation and result in poor results. Instead of pushing competition and rigid rules and expectations, they should cultivate empathetic leadership and establish positive workplaces.
The best way to do that is to practice gratitude and generosity. That includes encouraging mindful behaviors, acknowledging everyone’s success, advocating for random acts of kindness, and supporting peer-to-peer recognition.
But corporations should also teach employees to express gratitude and generosity and carry on the cycle. They can do it by introducing educational workshops about these social-emotional expressions or sharing relevant studies and materials.
As a result, workers will learn to be more grateful for small things and generous with their coworkers and managers. But they will also be more aware of all the instances when someone acknowledged their success or offered support.
 Empathy Is The Most Important Leadership Skill According To Research
 2020 State of Workplace Empathy
Originally published at www.linkedin.com.