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Gratitude box and weekly lunch

A "gratitude box" in which people put appreciative notes in a box and the notes are then read aloud at a lunch with all employees each week.

Photo of Carley Stewart
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In my opinion, for gratitude in the workplace to really be expressed and received, it needs to be a combination of things and the sum of the parts rather than one grand act of  gratitude. I think a gratitude box in combination with a weekly lunch would establish a healthy and happy work environment in which the employees and employers feel gratitude, respect, and appreciation. To break  down the idea, there would be a "gratitude box" or a few in the office (depending on the office size), and each time an employee felt appreciated by someone or felt that someone else warranted appreciation,  they would write a little one-sentence note in the box. People would be encouraged to write in the box and put notes for a few reasons

1. These notes would be read aloud at the end of each week, in front of the entire office, and therefore others would see your appreciation or whatever warranted gratitude that you did. 

2. If there were multiple gratitude boxes, the box with the most notes at the end of the week would be able to pick what their weekly lunch was or where they ate, and get to read their notes first. If there was only one box, the managers of the office would hold off the free team lunch until a certain number of notes were in the box. 

Furthermore, as I briefly mentioned above, the office would hold a weekly lunch in which everyone would get together on a more informal/personal level and eat lunch together, simply as colleagues. This would create a friendly environment in which the employees can connect and show gratitude and respect on another level. It would also show the employers that the priority is not always task completion, and that focusing on the culture, the people, and the relationships within the company are just as important. At some point during this lunch each week, people would take turns reading all of the notes in the gratitude box/boxes. Everyone would be recognized for their efforts and appreciation, and it would stimulate a positive energy. The office would also supply or pay for lunch, and so this is another level of appreciation to be shown to the employees. 

Idea Title

Boxed Gratitude for Lunch

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

The gratitude box would encourage people to notice others for their efforts and to notice the appreciation they are receiving. Furthermore, it would create an environment in which gratitude and respect is prioritized. The lunch would create a friendly environment in which the employees can connect and show gratitude and respect on another level. The lunch would also show the employers that the priority is not always task completion, and that focusing on the culture, the people, and the relationships within the company are just as important.

Who are you innovating for?

All individuals will benefit from this idea in the company (employers and employees), however this is most focused on creating lesser of a hierarchy and making everyone in the office feel equal, so the employees and those working under others may benefit the most.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

Essentially any type of workplace can benefit from this idea if they have a small enough group of people to have lunch with once a week (30 or less), as well as the resources to provide lunch once a week. The idea can also be altered for a bigger group of people and for those who do not have the resources/ability to do a lunch once a week.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

Obstacles would be making sure people participate in putting notes in the box as well as coming to lunch and listening to the notes being read. Overcoming this would be providing more incentives for writing in the box and coming to lunch (i.e. bonuses/higher recognition for notes), or changing the employees so that the culture can embody one in which gratitude is valued.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

To test this, we can provide the idea with a few different companies and have them do this for a month (gratitude box with a total of 4 lunches, one at the end of each week) and at the end, as the employees how they felt about it and if it made a difference. We can also do a before and after survey to see what has changed at the end of the 4 weeks.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

Find companies to implement this idea and approach them with it, explaining why it is a good idea and how they can benefit. Then begin prototyping, maybe even provide them with some resources for the first couple of weeks to give them further incentive. Working with organizations will accelerate my solution because it will be a test for the solution to see how well it works, as well as what can be improved and I can then take steps to improve it.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

From interviewing and second hand research, as well as personal experience.

Tell us about yourself

I am actually a student at The University of Texas at Austin and am in a class for my major called Open Innovation. I, Caroline Stewart, am and student who is learning a lot about innovative thinking in this course.

Where are you / your team located?

In Austin, TX, United States of America

Tell us about your experience

I have worked at a few start-ups in the business development side, all very small teams that were goal oriented and in which we had to pick up any work that needed to be done (not very specific roles). It was very much so a teamwork each time, but very different dynamics on how that worked. One was in computer storage software, another in accessories consulting, and another in digital marketing.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Monika Jiang

Hi Carley Stewart ! 
Cool idea, love the idea of sharing thoughts over lunch. I guess we're on quite a similar mission of bringing people together while enjoying great food and discussing the topic of gratitude. To overcome the obstacle of people actually open up, I could imagine that you could add up a gamification feature to it in order to make them feel more comfortable with sharing. Could be a overall challenge // building a platform where gratitude stories can be shared and voted 'best' or something alike. This way employees would have a stronger motivation in participating!
Keep it up!

Photo of Carley Stewart

Love that idea! Thank you! And yes, Im all about bringing people together over food and great company!

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Carley Stewart ,

Great to see you in the Ideas Phase of the Challenge! I'm curious about what would incentivize people to participate in this initiative? What type of support are you needing--beyond financial support--at this point in time

Attaching the gratitude definition for reference as you build out your concept

Lastly, I'm tagging in posts that reference connecting over gratitude with food Thanksgiving at Work , Gratitude tastes great! It may be helpful for you to connect with these concepts or exchange feedback!

Excited to learn more!