New findings on stress, trust, and gratitude at work

October 2, 2019 Aaron Kinne

3-minute read

person holding their headWhen it comes to worker retention, love of job, stress levels, and trust, “It’s in your organization’s best interest to appeal to your employees’ emotional connection to their work and the company’s mission.”

That’s the second finding from “The Future of Work is Human: Findings from the Workhuman® Analytics & Research Institute,” a recent survey of more than 3,500 full-time workers from the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Each year this seminal report gives people leaders and executives a revealing look at what motivates employees to do their best work and unveils the emotional connections that bind them to their teams, managers, and employers.

How do we know if employees have an emotional investment in their work and company? One of the best indicators is how they answer this question:

“Would you recommend working at your organization to a friend or colleague?”

What drives workers to recommend?

With that in mind, what are some of the drivers that incent workers to recommend their organization to a friend?

According to the report, “Workers are more than 2x as likely (85% vs. 36%) to recommend a friend when they agree that the work at their organization has meaning and purpose.” In addition, when their personal values align with their company’s mission and values, they’re nearly 3x as likely (88% vs. 32%) to recommend their organization to others.

How about those employees who – quite simply – love their jobs? According to the survey responses, having a sense of meaning and purpose in their work is the key driver here. Seventy-nine percent of those workers who agree with the statement, “The work we do at my organization has meaning and purpose for me,” say they love their jobs, versus just 17% for those who disagree.

In other words, employees who have a sense of purpose are more than 4x as likely to love their jobs.

The numbers are similar when asked about alignment with company values and mission: 80% versus 23%.

Emotional investment and stress

The report points out that, “With any level of emotional investment in the workplace – especially when up against time constraints, market pressure, and lofty goals – stress is bound to show up in individuals and teams.” In short, stress is a natural outgrowth of the emotional investment employees put into their work. How that stress is handled across a company’s culture is often the difference between success and failure.

More gratitude. Less stress.

The survey report examines the close interplay between gratitude – fostered by Social Recognition® – and stress. It cites studies supporting the notion that “gratitude can be a key to building resilience and buffering again stress.” 

I encourage you to review Figure 7 on page 13 of the report for more detail and background on the report’s conclusion regarding gratitude and stress, but the bottom-line takeaway is plain: “Clearly, more recent, frequent recognition is associated with higher gratitude levels and lower stress levels.”

Finally, there’s the relationship between gratitude and trust – another form of what the report calls “relational currency.” Trust becomes particularly important during times of change and uncertainty – such as during a merger and/or acquisition. Again, the power of gratitude to cope with times of uncertainty is demonstrated in the survey findings

“Workers recognized in the last month at companies that have been through a merger or acquisition in the last year are nearly 2x as likely to trust in their company’s leadership team, as compared to those who have never been recognized for their work (82% vs. 46%).

More to come

We’ll continue to more closely examine findings from “The Future of Work is Human” in upcoming blogs as we look at ways companies can leverage the untapped creativity and innovation of humans in the workplace – and bring a renewed focus on humanity and emotional intelligence at work. Stay tuned.

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About the Author

Aaron Kinne

Aaron Kinne is a senior writer at Workhuman.

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