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  • Writer's pictureJill Hauwiller

Gratitude May Be An Antidote To The Great Resignation

A lot of (digital) ink has been spilled about the Great Resignation and leaders may be wondering about their role in supporting employees through this period of transition. I’d like to suggest one relatively easy approach that can help leaders strengthen relationships, build trust and potentially reduce turnover: gratitude.

Expressing gratitude helps the recipient of the thanks feel valued and connected to a purpose. The hallmarks of effective gratitude include:

Timeliness. Share your praise right away.

Specificity. A generic “good job” doesn’t typically cut it.

Sincerity. Your tone and approach matter.

The results of a study published in Harvard Business Review show a disconnect between a manager’s perceptions of providing positive feedback and the employee’s experience of receiving it. Additionally, the research found that 37% of managers avoided giving positive feedback. Meanwhile, employees notice leaders who take the time to acknowledge work, give credit and recognize effort — and view those leaders favorably.

As leaders evaluate their organizations to determine what makes for a compelling workplace to retain employees and attract new talent, a culture of appreciation and recognition are an essential element. This isn’t a new concept. but it needs to be a priority now because it can be a countermeasure to burnout when paired with other workplace attributes that employees value. At a minimum, gratitude can help bridge the understanding gap between employees and managers about the characteristics of an attractive organization. Here are three things leaders can do today to incorporate gratitude into the workplace culture:

1. Get into a gratitude routine.

To build a gratitude habit, leaders can tap into other skills they likely already have. A mindset of gratitude and appreciation requires an external focus — you need to be paying attention to others’ contributions and how they contribute to organizational and team success.

A coaching client of mine took a very intentional approach to gratitude by blocking time on her calendar each week — and protected the time like any other important meeting — to reflect on the good actions of her team and peers throughout the week and acknowledge what she saw. She expressed gratitude through email, text and handwritten cards, which is a good reminder that gratitude doesn’t have to take one form. This small act has had a powerful impact on her relationships with her team members.

A gratitude journal is another, often-recommended way to develop a grateful mindset. The important part is to establish a cadence that is meaningful to you whether it is daily or weekly or some other regular time frame. Just don’t forget to share your gratitude with others!

2. Get to know your people and what makes them feel appreciated.

What makes for high-impact appreciation? Learning what is important to your employees is an essential step in getting gratitude right. Use regular development conversations to discover what skills, contributions and forms of recognition are meaningful to the individual.

For example, let's say Cristina is consistently recognized for her strong project management skills, but her manager knows she has been working on contributing innovative approaches in team meetings. After a team meeting during which Cristina speaks up, her manager sends her a quick text message supporting her progress on this goal. This is a strong example of recognition because it is specific and timely. Make someone’s day by acknowledging their contributions as they happen.

3. Get your team involved.

Many organizations have tools to encourage recognition and appreciation. Tap into these as part of your attitude of gratitude and encourage your team to recognize each other, as well. Peer recognition can be especially powerful and engaging. Your focus on gratitude and recognition will be a step toward building a culture of appreciation and belonging where employees feel seen, understood and valued. And that might just make the difference for your organization and team to attract and retain the employees you need during this time of immense employee churn.

*This article first appeared on Forbes.


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