The Gratitude Workout

May 16, 2019 Aaron Kinne

Person raising arms

3-minute read

Some people get “runner’s high.” Some get a rush from kettle bells. And others can’t wait for yoga class to begin. Me? Not so much.

It seems like I’m always looking for an excuse to skip the gym. “I’m too tired.” “I didn’t eat lunch.” “My feet are sore.” But thanks to the discipline of having a trainer, I invariably shut down my pity party, find my inner resolve, and head to our local recreation center for what always turns out to be an invigorating and rewarding session.

Last week, however, I didn’t have to come up with any excuses, courtesy of a bout with the flu that had me down for the count. Five days of misery kept me out of the gym – and gave me an ironclad reason not to work out.

Back to the gym

But a funny thing happened once I returned. Looking around at all the familiar faces I hadn’t seen in days, I felt a renewed sense of enthusiasm, appreciation, and energy. Being away from the gym made me realize that to endure the pain, exhaustion, and tedium of my training sessions isn’t a drudgery to be dreaded, but rather a gift to be cherished. It made me grateful that I have the physical ability to lift weights, work the rowing machine, or toss the medicine ball.  

Because what’s worse than working out? Not being able to work out.

And let’s face it … no matter how human your workplace culture is, there are those days when we all have feelings of dread as we head to work. Just as my forced hiatus reshaped my perspective on my time at the gym, gratitude can play a transformative role in how we view our jobs.

Gratitude – as expressed through social recognition – has been a core tenet of the Workhuman movement since its inception back in 2015. So much so that this year, an entire content track – “Applying the Value of Gratitude” – was dedicated to the topic at Workhuman® Live 2019 in Nashville.

Top gratitude quotes from Workhuman Live

With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes from the speakers who headlined these breakout sessions :

“Gratitude is the ultimate touchpoint of human existence … and the ultimate performance enhancing substance.”

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., 

Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis

“We’re either lifting people up, or knocking them down.”

- Christine Porath, Ph.D.,

Associate Professor at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

“Data can help us understand what makes a place ‘Workhuman.’”

- Jesse Harriott,
Global Head of Analytics & Executive

Director of the Workhuman Analytics & Research Institute

“A modern workplace needs a modern rewards approach.”

Rob Schmitter,

Solution Architect at Workhuman

“It’s important to receive recognition quickly. You want to create a ‘moment of recognition.’”

Dave Watson,

Global HR Portal Lead & Global

Solutions Lead: Compensation & Benefits,

Merck & Co., Inc.

“It’s not about spending money. It’s about driving a culture of recognition.”

Nick Vollrath,
Executive Director of Global Compensation,

Merck & Co, Inc.

“Celebrate the ‘givers’ as well as the ‘getters.’”

Chary Krout,

Senior Vice President, Human Resources,

First Tech Federal Credit Union

“Create more celebration; more humanity in the workplace.”

Molly Lehrsch,

Corporate Communications Director, First

Tech Federal Credit Union

“Recognition is really at the center of the employee experience.”

Gabrielle Thompson,

Senior Vice President, Acquisitions & Total Rewards, Cisco

Just showing up

My trainer is fond of telling me that 99% of the battle is just showing up. And while that might be true at the gym, it’s not going to cut it in the workplace.

We need employees to do more than just show up. We need them to arrive at work eager, energized, and empowered to do the best work of their lives. To do that, organizations must infuse the transformative power of gratitude into company culture through social recognition. That was the lesson of the “gratitude” track at Workhuman Live 2019. And it’s a lesson I’ve taken to the gym.


The Kryptonite to Workplace Incivility

Gratitude – The Ultimate Performance-Enhancing Substance

Is Gratitude the Most Underrated Engagement Tool?

About the Author

Aaron Kinne

Aaron Kinne is a senior writer at Workhuman.

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