Workplace appreciation is a gesture given by a manager to employees, or from employees to their colleagues with a purpose to praise one’s great achievements. According to some research, workplace appreciation does not merely affect employees emotionally but also brings a positive impact on employees psychologically. Individuals who participated in the research were found to be more prosocial, happier, more engaged, more satisfied, and healthier in their work and life after a constant appreciation.
Now imagine if everyone in your company is healthy, happy and engaged with their job. Such quality circumstances can lead to higher productivity and performance – not to say, customers and workplace culture will be leveraged too.
According to Alex Korb PhD, gratitude can have such a powerful impact on someone’s life because it engages the brain in a virtuous cycle. Examining the blood flow in various brain regions while subjects are asked to summon the feelings of gratitude, Korb found that their hypothalamus level is higher. Hypothalamus is a small region of the brain that controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking, and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on one’s metabolism and stress levels. The increasing hypothalamus level on brain activity leads to reduced stress and better sleep patterns.
Furthermore, Korb found that it was not only the hypothalamus that is increased but also brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is responsible to send signals from the body to the brain. It plays a part in controlling movements as well as an emotional response. Needless to say, an increased level of dopamine gives a positive effect to almost everything in the individual’s life, emotionally and physically. The increased level of dopamine helps the person repeat the things or behaviours they just did because it gives pleasure to their own wellbeing. For example, Sally did well in her last project and got praise from her manager and CEO. Due to the praise, Sally is likely to repeat her best action when finishing another project assigned to her.
Another study from Harvard about gratefulness is also linked to an increment of customer’s satisfaction and higher productivity. Researchers at Harvard tested two groups, one group was required to work as usual with phone calls to solicit alumni donations. The second group was assigned on a different day, received a pep talk from the director of annual giving who told the fund-raises she was grateful for their efforts. The result of this study revealed that the university employees who heard the director’s message of gratitude made 50 more fund-raising calls than those who did not.
Likewise, it can be implied that gratefulness and appreciation can result in many positive ways, such as increased productivity, increased happiness and motivation, lower stress, better sleep patterns, reduced workplace depression, better self-esteem, etc. Appreciation does give immediate and long-term impact on workplace satisfaction.
However, albeit it is clear that appreciation and gratefulness can lead to better work-life, the human’s brain is so adaptable that it can change easily, added Korb, meaning it will not be always easy to remember to be grateful or give appreciation for the small things happen everyday in the workplace. For instance, you can give a thank-you note to the employee this morning. He is happy receiving that but when he is rushed for a meeting and the elevator takes 50 seconds to get to the floor, there is a chance that the said employee become grumpy again.
Therefore, one must acknowledge that gratitude and appreciation take practice. Taking time to remind yourself and/or your co-worker to be grateful each day for the little things is meaningful. There is a lot you can appreciate in your everyday work-life such as a simple nice gesture made by workmates or the meeting that lasts less than 15 minutes. Repeating the words, “I am grateful for….” or “I am thankful for….” is something that should be in your and your employees’ daily mantra.