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It’s interesting to me that as we approach the holidays, we start to see all the tweets and posts about being thankful and grateful for all the many blessings in our life. As much as I love to see everyone’s display of public gratitude, I think gratitude is one of those things that should be a focus year-round. 

The dictionary definition of gratitude is described as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Funny enough, when I asked on social media, “how do employers show gratitude in the workplace,” the responses were not reward top performers with a trophy or give everyone a holiday ham or jelly of the month club subscription. 

No, the responses were quite simple. In fact, none of the responses given had any dollar value attached either. Here’s a few ideas that some of my friends posted about workplace gratitude….

It hit me this morning as I was reading articles on gratitude and then scrolling back through comments on social media. The best thing an employer can do to show gratitude is spend time building relationships. 

It’s that simple. 

Now, I didn’t say it was easy to do this, because “fires” happen and you get distracted from spending the time needed to build those relationships. Although it doesn’t require much money (if any), it DOES require your time and commitment. As with anything you want to be successful, you have to prioritize this in order to see the fruits of your labor, so to speak.

I read a great article on about things you can do to have great relationships with your employees. You can grab the link here.

A few things stood out to me in this article. I really like the concept of “going to the gemba,” which is what the Japanese refer to as the “real place.” How many of us as leaders get stuck in the day to day grind of managing a team and forget what it’s like as the “front line” staff? 

So, if you’re a superintendent of a school district – get back to the classroom for a visit! If you’re managing a staff at a bank – go hang out with the tellers and work with customers for a few hours. When you’re removed from the front line work, you forget what it’s like…you forget the daily struggles. Besides, your staff wants to see you…and what a great way to develop trust too. It’s a win-win.

The other piece that stuck out to me in this article was to support your employees EVERY way you can. We are ALL facing our own personal battles each and every day. The smiles you see at the office are often the masks hiding what’s really going on behind closed doors at home.

To me, support means a few things. It can be anything from just being kind to inviting people to lunch and get to know them better to truly aiding someone who is in crisis. Giving support shouldn’t just be when there’s imminent need…it should be a daily practice we all do.

I think it’s fair to say that we all have our own definition of gratitude in the workplace. But, one thing is certain…it seems we all want human connectivity and rich relationships. Gratitude isn’t something that requires money. Sometimes, just a smile and a kind word will do the trick!