By Drew Fortin

’Tis the season for reflecting on the goodness in our lives and giving thanks. For most of us, our thoughts usually tend toward loved ones and positive developments in our personal lives. But what about that place where we spend the majority of our waking hours? Yes, paychecks are nice, but let’s dig deeper…

When thinking about Thanksgiving, our team decided it would be interesting to ask people what their coworkers, team members, managers and leaders do that makes them grateful to work with and for them. We received over 50 heartfelt responses that were both inspiring and revealing. Clearly some companies produce some very happy and grateful employees.

How do companies create a workforce of very happy and grateful employees?

We dug through the responses and quickly detected some common themes. Not one of the 50+ respondents mentioned their paycheck. In fact, nothing monetary was mentioned. These are the things that respondents’ said coworkers, team members, managers and leaders do that inspire gratitude (and in some cases, gushing thanks).

Companies who have the most thankful employees…

Listen to me

 “Appreciate my input and opinion, listen to what I have to say and add their opinion to excel as a team.”

Support me

"They are friendly, collaborative, helpful, polite and supportive.”

Care about me

“They are sincere with caring about my well-being.”

Recognize and acknowledge my efforts

"Say I support you, good job, shine the light on you when you do well.”

Collaborate with me

“My team is awesome! Collaborative, professional, fun, creative, and supportive!”

Let me be myself

“They are very understanding about my personality, good and bad things.”

Let me have a flexible work schedule

“I am grateful that our owners allow us to work flex hours, as it makes the commute easier.”

Foster creativity

“I am grateful to work with team members who can be open-minded and creatively collaborative.”

Let me have a life outside of work

“I am blessed to be surrounded by people who value a well-balanced life. Our culture allows people to earn a living, raise a family, be charitable, and have outside interests.”

Communicate with me and share information

“Open communication without hidden agendas.”

Are honest and open

“They give me a chance and stretch me with honest feedback that allows me to grow.”

Create a fun work environment

“We have fun with each other and like each other. We laugh a lot at work. They are really good at what they do!”

Are respectful

“Make me feel valued and appreciated, recognize me, treat me with respect.”

Share passion for their work

“I am thankful to have the opportunity to lead a team that is truly passionate about the work that they do. I am oftentimes blown away by their talent and passion.”

Inspire me

“They have big dreams and motivate me to want to work harder to make them come true for the company and myself.”

Trust me and my competencies

“Allow me to make autonomous decisions and detailed plans of how to accomplish goals.”

Are pleasant to interact with

“They are always helpful and eager with pleasant attitudes. They are generally curious, caring and sensitive when needed. Sense of humor!!!”

One boss deserved a whole paragraph of gratitude. And we can see why.  

“I tell anyone who will listen that I have the most amazing boss. He treats everyone he meets with dignity and respect, and that is especially true of his staff. He honors our need for a work/life balance, and insists that we prioritize around family. His philosophy is if things aren't right at home, work suffers. He does not micromanage, and gives the same dedication and quality of work that he expects from his employees. He is extremely gracious with mistakes, but expects everyone, himself included, to learn from them and to execute accordingly. He is such an honorable man, that it makes all of us subordinates work harder if only to validate his trust in us.”

What’s striking about these responses is that gratitude really stems from meeting individual needs and connecting on a personal level, whether it’s taking into account someone’s commute, or acknowledging and supporting individuals’ personalities and differences. Although there is much to be said about how benefits, bonuses, snazzy office furnishings, or cool products and services help with culture and engagement, they didn’t conjure up gratitude. Some people enjoy the collaboration and creativity, others are thankful for autonomy. Regardless of their personalities and preferences, they are grateful when their personal needs are met.

Want grateful employees? These attributes just might be the secret gravy (it’s Thanksgiving, after all…). And for the unfortunate respondent who answered “nothing,” in response to what he/she is grateful for, perhaps it’s time for greener, more personally fulfilling pastures?


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