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Employee Wellbeing Best Practices

World Gratitude Day: Finding Joy in Difficult Times

September 21st is World Gratitude Day, so, we’re sharing our top tips on how to harness the power of gratitude in the workplace and beyond.  Gratitude, an affirmation of the goodness in your life,  can improve your mood, overall wellbeing, physical health and create a stronger sense of community. But during disruption, change, growth or discomfort, it can be difficult to find things to be thankful for. Taking the time to reflect on the good things, allowing yourself to be happy and expressing your appreciation for others can make challenging times easier to manage.  

How Gratitude Effects Wellbeing 

Celebrating the positive influences in your life has a myriad of health benefits.  

  • It promotes physical health – Appreciating your physical abilities can inspire you to take better care of yourself. Making time for exercise 3-5x a week, preparing nutritious meals, scheduling regular health screenings and getting adequate sleep are all ways to express self-love and increase longevity. 
  • It may improve your sense of mental wellbeing – Positive psychology suggests that focusing on the positives in life and expressing gratitude can increase happiness while reducing feelings of depression and anxiety. 
  • It can help you make friends and strengthen relationships – Positive energy attracts others. It makes them feel good and inspires happiness. Additionally, expressing gratitude can improve existing relationships by creating a stronger sense of mutual understanding and motivation to allow the relationship to thrive.  
  • It can reduce stress – The expression of gratitude and happiness actually lowers cortisol levels in the body, allowing you to better cope with stressful situations by helping to build resilience.  
  • It may boost productivity – Saying thank you to your manager or coworkers or even acknowledging the things you enjoy about your job can not only make you more productive, it can motivate others around you as well. 

Gratitude can be a powerful way to improve our own performance and the performance of those around us.” – Dr. Laurie Santos, THRIVEx 

What‘s There to Be Grateful For? 

We’re shouldering a lot of stress and anxiety this year. In fact, 53% of U.S. adults surveyed reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health. With the fear of losing your job, the risk of you or a loved one contracting COVID-19, poor work-life balance and less-than-ideal lifestyle habits, things can seem pretty bleak. This is when we need gratitude the most.  

It can be tough to see beyond the negatives, but there are simple ways to uncover the things in your life that you can be grateful for. According to Dr. Laurie Santos, act of writing down 3-5 things you’re grateful for each day can improve your overall wellbeing statistically in as short as 2 weeks. Start with the basics: I have a roof over my head, I can provide food for my family, I can move and exercise, I can stay in touch with my loved ones, etc. Once you start this practice, you’ll find it easier to identify the things that bring you joy, even in stressful times.   

How Can You Express Gratitude? 

Expressing gratitude goes beyond saying a simple “thank you” and moving on. Tell your friends, family or coworkers what it is that you cherish about them. Acts of kindness are also excellent ways to show your appreciation – buy a loved one a small gift, volunteer, lend a listening ear or give a compliment. These things will not only bring you joy, but they’ll also bring a smile to the face of others and may inspire them to do the same.  

It’s also important to show gratitude to yourself; don’t forget that September is Self-Care Awareness Month. Engaging in regular exercise, drinking enough water, getting adequate sleep, eating nutritious food and setting aside time for the things you truly enjoy can improve your overall sense of wellbeing and satisfaction. Another great strategy is meditation and mindfulness. Dr. Laurie Santos recommends the practice of Loving-Kindness Meditation to increase feelings of joy, kindness and connection with yourself and others. The process begins with giving compassion to yourself, then extending it to others in your life and eventually learning to find compassion for all living things. It takes about 15 minutes a day and can change your perception of the world around you—give it a try! 

What Role Does Gratitude Have in the Workplace? 

Beyond increasing productivity among your workforce, gratitude has an often overlooked but vital role in workplace culture. It’s estimated that we spend one-third of our lives at work, so creating a culture of positivity, appreciation and joy is essential to the mental and emotional wellbeing of your employees.  

Though establishing or maintaining organizational culture with a dispersed workforce is challenging, encouraging your people to acknowledge the hard work of others, offer support to coworkers, find time for work-life balance and communicate with kindness and understanding can make all the difference in morale. Senior leadership and managers should lead by example, reaching out to employees with positive feedback and celebrating team accomplishments. Engage employees in the act of showing gratitude at work by establishing a virtual channel for communication or dedicating a day or meeting each week to giving thanks. You might be surprised at the impact gratitude has on the wellbeing, mood and work performance! 

Gratitude is an excellent tool to boost the wellbeing of your workforce in stressful times as well as in times of joy. With a digital health platform, you can easily encourage your employees to stay connected and engage in company-wide efforts to improve workplace culture. 

Learn more about how you can kickstart a culture of gratitude and wellbeing with Virgin Pulse.