What does your to-do list look like as a small business owner today? It likely includes a lengthy list of tasks like: respond to emails, pick up office supplies, schedule an appointment with a certain client, finish employee evaluations, make an important phone call, and the like.
But how about gratitude? Does your list include anything about the expression of gratitude?
Probably not. And that’s ok. Most lists don’t. But here’s a little secret for you:
Expressing gratitude in the workplace is extremely advantageous and can even make your business more profitable.
Here are a few reasons why expressing gratitude should be included on your daily small business to-do list:
- Gratitude enhances overall wellness. Many professionals laugh at the idea of a “gratitude journal,” but those who recognize the benefits of a grateful attitude and express their gratitude regularly actually are healthier overall. Take these studies, for example:
- Yale studies say a gratitude journal will result in higher alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy.
- Stanford offers a high-demand class leveraging gratitude journals, which made students 27% less stressed.
- Harvard studies indicate gratitude improves health and strengthens relationships.
- UC-Berkeley research indicates a gratitude journal improves sleep and decreases illness.
- Columbia research says gratitude improves the immune system, while reducing anxiety and/or depression.
- Gratitude improves focus. When gratitude is constantly in the back of your mind, you can spend your day working toward the best possible outcome and then let the chips fall where they may. You can let go of controlling outcomes and comparison to others because you recognize the abundance you already have in your life. By knowing what you’re grateful for (perhaps the opportunity to own a small business) and then making a conscious effort to further improve it, you can have laser-like focus that helps you achieve your goals.
- Gratitude increases productivity. Gratitude lets you throw yourself into what you are doing and keeps negative distractions from creeping into your work. Why? In a nutshell, giving and receiving thanks increases release of dopamine, therefore raising your energy levels.
- Take this study, for example: In a long-term research project on the nature of gratitude, Professor Robert A. Emmons, University of California, said “Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.” He has since discovered that an attitude of gratitude in everyday life has tremendous impact on the overall productivity and success of small business owners and their employees.
- Gratitude makes you a better employer. Simple, genuine, and thoughtful gestures not only make you a more likeable boss, but a more respectable leader as well. An Emergency Room Director at a busy hospital in rural Utah ends all of his emails to employees with “Your Servant, Grant.” His staff has often commented on how this simple gesture makes them feel appreciated, as well as more comfortable in coming to him with any questions or concerns they may have about their work. Gratitude is just one way to open the lines of communication between small business owners and their team.
- An attitude of gratitude can cultivate a more successful business. A study by Bersin & Associates reveals that companies that “excel at employee recognition” are 12 times more likely to enjoy strong business results. Small business owners who are down to earth, humble, and grateful are more likely to achieve success than those who refuse to acknowledge good work, even when they know it’s there.
Other than the proven, statistical correlation between small business success and gratitude, being a grateful person simply makes you happier, more likeable, and enjoyable to be around. Dietrich Bonhoeffer a prominent theologian who was hung by the Nazis 23 days before the Allied victory in Europe, said this about gratitude: “Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things.”