Is Your Workplace a No-Gratitude Zone?

via Bill Peel
December 7th, 2012

Everyone likes to be appreciated.  And not surprisingly, saying thank-you is good business.  According to research, showing gratitude can increase profit, productivity and employee loyalty.

But as Sue Shellenbarger recently wrote in her Wall Street Journal column, we shouldn’t expect a big thank-you at work this week. She reports, "The workplace ranks dead last among the places people express gratitude, from homes and neighborhoods to places of worship. Only 10% of adults say thanks to a colleague every day, and just 7% express gratitude daily to a boss, according to a survey this year of 2,007 people for the John Templeton Foundation."

Yet gratitude is about more than good business. It is supposed to be the habitual attitude of every Christian. In Ephesians 5:20 Paul says we should be “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He repeats the admonition in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” And he urges Christians in Thessalonica, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (Thes. 5:16-18).

Interestingly, Paul’s exhortations about gratitude fall in the same context with his instructions to render humble service in the workplace (Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22-4:1; 1 Thes. 4:11-12).

I like the way Tim Keller defines humility. He says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself—but thinking of yourself less”—a hard thing to do in the workplace where it’s so easy to focus on Me, Mine, and what I deserve! 

“Gratitude,” on the other hand, “goes beyond the ‘mine' and 'thine' and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift,” writes Henri Nouwen.  He suggests that gratitude can—and should—be a life discipline.   

So how are you doing at expressing gratitude toward others in your workplace? Sure, some people don’t feel the need to receive as much appreciation as others. But the fact is, we all need to give it. And expressing thanks to others begins with “giving thanks to God the Father.”

Take a moment to list ten things others do in your workplace that you are thankful for.  How can you show your appreciation for the good work they are doing?

Want some great ideas for how to say thank you? See David Roth’s suggestions at Work Matters.