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Thanksgiving Reflections: A Year of Gratitude

7-minute read

Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Sure, it has its commercial underpinings. But for me, the essence of the holiday – more than any other – is about reconnecting with family and friends.

Each year, I use the occasion to reflect on all the blessings I’ve enjoyed throughout the year. And in 2019, there were many. Good health. More time to garden. And a perfect work-life balance, thanks to my wonderful associates and friends at Workhuman®, where I work as a senior writer.

As I reflected on this year’s editorial content – both my own and my peers’ – the theme of gratitude emerged again and again. Of course, the idea of gratitude is hardly new – its been a foundational principle of the Workhuman movement since its inception. But I was surprised to see how many blogs (11!) explored the concept in 2019.

It seemed to be a year of gratitude.

With that in mind, let’s take a brief look back at the blogs that helped bring gratitude into the forefront of our discussion this past year. I’m sure it will continue to be top-of-mind in 2020 because, let’s face it, gratitude never goes out of style.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Workhuman.

Is gratitude the most underrated engagement tool? (Feb. 28)

The year of gratitude got off to a dynamic start when Workhuman managing editor Sarah Payne interviewed Dr. Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. In a lively, wide-ranging discussion, they explored Dr. Emmons’ latest research on the science behind gratitude, humility, and joy. One of the many meta-takeaways from their chat: “Gratitude brings benefits in all spheres of life – relational, physical, psychological. Gratitude has the power to heal, to energize, and to change lives.” Read the blog. >

Gratitude for beginners (March 7)

Workhuman evangelist Lynne Levy marked International Women’s Day last March with a special “thank you” – not only to her mother, sister, and daughter, but to her female graduate school professors. As she observed, “they gave me the courage to do what I love and speak my truth at work. … My mentors in graduate school helped me find my voice.” Lynne challenged us to approach the day with “a sense of sincere gratitude for those women in our lives who have made a difference” – and extend that same sentiment to our workplace.

Read the blog. >

“The gratitude movement is taking over.” (March 19)

In a groundbreaking keynote presentation at this year’s Workhuman® Live, founder and CEO Eric Mosley offered new insights into gratitude while highlighting the data and science that supports its impact on business. He noted that “the act of giving is even more profound than the act of receiving. Gratitude changes the giver and has a more profound impact.” He pointed out the importance of reach, frequency, and value in driving engagement, retention, and a culture of gratitude through Social Recognition®, a core tenet of Workhuman® Cloud. Read the blog. >

Gratitude – the ultimate performance-enhancing substance (March 27)

“Gratitude is the ultimate touchpoint of human existence … and the ultimate performance enhancing substance,” observed Dr. Robert A. Emmons during his Workhuman® Live presentation. To back up those claims, he explored the vast body of psychological, behavioral, and social research – including some from the healthcare arena – that has revealed the power of gratitude. His findings demonstrate the dramatic impact gratitude can have in shaping a workplace culture. Infusing gratitude into company culture through social recognition motivates and empowers employees to do the best work of their lives. Read the blog. >

The gratitude workout (May 16)

Following a bout with the flu, I returned to the gym with a renewed sense of enthusiasm, appreciation, and energy. My forced hiatus made me realize that the challenge of my training sessions isn’t a task to be dreaded, but rather a gift to be cherished. It made me grateful that I have the physical ability to work out.  Likewise, no matter how human your workplace culture is, there are days you don’t want to go to work. But just as my forced hiatus reshaped my perspective on working out, gratitude can play a transformative role in how we view our jobs. Read the blog. >

The importance of gratitude in creating human workplaces (Sept. 13)

What happens when you turn gratitude outward and use it to strengthen work cultures through peer-to-peer recognition? “Amazing things,” according to Derek Irvine, senior vice president at Workhuman. Gratitude works because it creates meaning which, according to the recent Workhuman® Analytics & Research Institute survey report, employees rank as number one in their career. He notes that recognition programs, fueled by gratitude, can cost less than you might expect. Research done with SHRM shows that programs funded at 1% or more of payroll are 86% more likely to be rated as good or excellent. Read the blog. >

What my grandfather taught me about gratitude (Sept. 17)

When Lynne Levy was looking for a role model to commemorate World Gratitude Day, she didn’t have to look far: “My grandfather lived each moment with a sincere gratitude for the life and career he had been given.” She noted that gratitude gave him “a sense of contentment, presence, and satisfaction. When you work with a sense of gratitude, it can change cultures, productivity, engagement, and organizations.” The ultimate lesson she took away? “Gratitude is not a moment. Instead, it is a lens by which we can work and live.” Read the blog.>

Why I’m celebrating my parents for World Gratitude Day (Sept. 20)

We can research it. We can analyze its impact. But when it comes to understanding the true meaning of gratitude, it starts with the heart. That’s the sentiment of Roshni Patel‘s moving tribute to her parents. The Workhuman social media marketer shared the spellbinding story of her parents’ journey from the undeveloped state of Gujarat in India to the U.S., where she and her sisters grew up with privileges, opportunities, and a developed infrastructure. “I’m grateful for my parents because every accomplishment, every triumph, and every success I achieve I owe to them,” she observes. “My parents risked it all, just so we could have it all.” Read the blog. >

New findings on stress, trust, and gratitude at work (Oct. 2)

“Gratitude can be a key to building resilience and buffering against stress.” That’s one of many findings from the groundbreaking Workhuman Analytics & Research Institute’s 2019 survey report. The research examines the close interplay between gratitude and stress. It cites studies supporting the notion that “gratitude can be a key to building resilience and buffering against stress. More recent, frequent recognition is associated with higher gratitude levels and lower stress levels.” Read the blog. >

Gratitude: the ultimate change agent (Oct. 9)

“Change is the new normal,” noted Eileen Nolan, Workhuman’s vice president of strategic accounts, in her October blog. As she sees it, the most successful companies are those that find ways to inspire through – not just survive – times of uncertainty. And one of the best ways to do that? Creating a healthy gratitude culture through social recognition. As Eileen points out, investing just 1% of payroll in a social recognition program “has demonstrable ROI. Social recognition moves the needle on turnover, productivity, performance, and engagement.” Read the blog. >

How gratitude amps up belonging and civility in the workplace (Nov. 1)

In her moving personal story, Jess Huckins, content producer at Workhuman, also drew on research from the Workhuman Analytics & Research Institute’s 2019 survey report to better understand how gratitude and connection affect inclusivity and a feeling of belonging. What was destined to be a solitary lunchtime turned into a robust gathering of co-workers who are now friends. Jess highlights the pivotal role gratitude plays in defining a civil workplace: “Workplaces with the highest civility rating were also the ones in which their humans reported expressing the most gratitude and feeling the most recognition.” Read the blog. >


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