10 Ways Business Leaders can Demonstrate Gratitude

Showing gratitude equals happier people—it’s that simple. Whether it is in the workplace, in our personal lives, or to a stranger, a simple “thank you” to demonstrate gratitude creates more smiles and boosts moods. 

From a professional standpoint, showing gratitude can increase job performance, build respect for superiors, and create an overall positive workplace. 

Although the benefits of gratitude are clear, according to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 37% of people in managerial positions don’t give positive reinforcement to their employees. 

Considering that a main responsibility of those in leadership positions is to provide corrective feedback, why is it that sharing positive reinforcement is not as prevalent?

As gratitude journals and other trends become more common, people are spending more time being thankful for things in their personal lives—in theory, this should carry over to professional lives as well. 

We understand this is easier said than done, so we’ve created 10 ways business leaders can demonstrate gratitude in the workplace:

1.) Touch base with employees early and often

Creating a regular touch base with employees individually or in small groups is a great way to build comradery and better get to know everyone on a more personal level. 

With existing employees, find a time that works best for them—so as a leader you are doing your best to fit into their schedule instead of always having them adjust to yours. 

With new employees, make this a regular practice from the beginning—this way as a boss, you can stay ahead and get to know them earlier rather than later. 

Building relationships will make it easier and more comfortable for you when it is time to have critical conversations, and more natural when you seek to show gratitude. 

2.) Get specific when showing gratitude

Giving a specific example of a job well done, giving praise in meetings while peers are around, or sending a personalized Thnks shows that you are in fact paying attention to details as a leader. 

This also piggybacks on setting up touch-bases—the better you know your employees, the more personalized you can get with showing gratitude. 

Think of this as Dr. Gary Chapmans, The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, and figure out how to specifically show appreciation in a way that would be most meaningful to that person.

Some people see a public shout-out as more meaningful, and some see a simple Slack message with affirmative words as more meaningful—so figure out what works best for each of your employees. 

3.) Give surprise bonuses

Let’s face it: everyone appreciates getting paid. We understand that for some businesses, giving bonuses is not possible all the time. But when the budget allows—around the holidays or for a special occasion—giving a small bonus means a lot to employees. 

If this is not already part of your company culture, as a business leader, try taking the time to have these conversations with higher-ups or HR managers. 

In a professional setting, we all know that money shows value, and this is a great way to demonstrate to employees that you care about them. 

4.) Give positive affirmations

When someone in your company does well, gets promoted, or leaves the company after a job well done, be sure to recognize them for this. 

According to a survey rendered by Glassdoor, 81% of employees report they are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. This means better retention rates, happier employees, and increased productivity. 

Considering these are goals for almost all businesses, regardless of company size or industry, providing positive affirmations should be a top priority for business leaders. 

5.) Start and end every meeting with gratitude

This is a practice every leader should be doing in meetings, especially when meeting virtually and connections are not as personal. 

Work can be stressful, people can be nervous about meeting with their boss, and as an effective leader, it is your job to make people feel comfortable and create a positive atmosphere. 

Start with gratitude, address business, and end with motivation. When managed effectively, meetings should leave the team more motivated to return to their work.

6.) Physically stop by and say “hello”

As we are exiting a global pandemic and months of social distance, the ability to stop by and check in with employees is more valuable now than ever before. 

It is time to rebuild connections and lead by example in doing so. Follow safety guidelines you have in place, but whenever it allows, connecting with people in person is extremely important.

Social interactions are an essential component of mental well-being. 

7.) Take a task off of someone’s plate

Life and work can get hectic. So when you notice someone on your team struggling, take a task off of their plate if you can. 

By simply offering this help, employees will see their boss as someone who isn’t afraid to bootstrap. This also gives you, as a team leader, the opportunity to see what your employees are working on, where progress needs to be made, and provides you with a better understanding of their workload. 

Helping employees prioritize their work and setting realistic goals while respecting their bandwidth is key to employee retention. 

8.) Show enthusiasm for success

One of the best ways to boost morale and show gratitude is to get excited for your teammates. 

Since enthusiasm and positive energy are contagious, try giving high fives, bringing in donuts after a big project is finished, or simply showing some elevated energy when something exciting happens. 

Take a moment to enjoy successes, “wins,” and milestones before immediately pushing on to “what’s next?” 

9.) Pay it forward 

Try initiating a “pay it forward” habit in your workplace and in your professional practices. 

As an example, when someone does something positive that benefits you or your work, offer to provide them with a helping hand, and promote this practice so that it becomes a part of your company’s culture. 

Paying it forward and showing gratitude is proven to release serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin—the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain that researchers refer to as a “helpers high.” 

Not only will you feel good after paying it forward, but this practice will spread throughout your workplace. 

10.) Demonstrate gratitude by sending a gesture 

Sending a token of gratitude is a great way to show your appreciation, build relationships, and spread positivity. 

At Thnks, we aim to simplify this process for you.

With Thnks, you can send expressions of appreciation with your professional connections by searching for a particular gesture, creating a customized note, and sharing it instantly via email or text. Interested in learning more? Sign up for a demo, or click here to learn more about expressing gratitude in business!