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What a Difference Sincere Gratitude Makes

December 6, 2018 | by Emuna Braverman

In business and in every aspect of our lives.

I have a family member who works for a large health care company. When it was bought out a few years ago by an even larger health care company, they decided to take a survey of company morale. The results were not encouraging. Employees had very low job satisfaction and didn't find it a congenial place to work.

Determined to fix this problem, they came up with a brilliant strategy. Every employee received a mug that was inscribed with the catchy slogan "Thanks a latte" and a $10 gift certificate to Starbucks.

You can well imagine the ensuing boost in morale (Yes I am being sarcastic!).

Contrast this with the family-run supermarket chain, Wegmans, ranked #2 by Fortune on its 2018 list of the 100 best companies to work for. "Everyone seems glad to be there," said their CEO. Why is this? Possibly because, in contrast to the unnamed large health care company above, Wegmans "shows appreciation by offering flexible scheduling, upward or $50 million a year in training programs and millions in college scholarships." (Wall Street Journal, 11/24/18)

What a difference sincere gratitude makes. In every aspect of our lives.

Study after study demonstrates that even more than monetary compensation workers want to feel appreciated. Is that such a surprise? Many of us spend the majority of our days engaged in the task of earning a living. We want to feel that someone notices, that someone appreciates our efforts.

We had a friend who produced a program for a large non-profit. It took hours of energy and preparation and unpaid overtime. It was her pleasure but sometimes money is a substitute for praise or at the very least suggests that our efforts are valued. No one offered her a bonus so she decided to ask for one. "You're not high enough on the food chain" was the response. She left the organization soon after.

Gratitude, kindness and appreciation are not traits we should turn on and off when we enter or exit our places of employment, or our homes for that matter. They should be qualities that we try to embody throughout our days.

And we shouldn't take anyone or anything for granted. Even if it's part of an employee's job description, we should still say thank you. We should still express detailed appreciated.

Even if one spouse is expected to cook and the other to clean (this is a hypothetical; I seem to do both!), it's still appropriate to say thank you. And to offer itemized gratitude. "After such a busy day, it was nice that you made a home-cooked dinner." "With my favorite ingredients." "In this cold weather, it was so thoughtful of you to shovel the walkway for me." (I'm imagining that one from my perch in sunny LA!)

Gratitude tells the listener that someone noticed, that their actions count, that they matter. And expressing gratitude turns the speaker into a person who notices and who also matters. It's a win-win.

Corporations have taken note (at least successful ones have; I remain skeptical about the future of the health care one although I would like my family member to remain employed!). We should also.

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