OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Gratitude Cards!

Reward gratitude in a tangible way using a popular, familiarized process!

Photo of Mohaymin Kadir
1 2

Written by

This idea uses punch cards to reward employees for expressing gratitude. This idea draws inspiration from "point cards" used by places like your favorite coffee shop. The cashier might hand you a punch card, and every 10th punch entitles you to a kind of prize. Every time you buy a coffee, one of the slots in your card is "punched" through, and you have a tangible way of measuring your progress towards a goal. This also makes you more likely to buy coffee from the same establishment because you are working towards a specified goal. 

Gratitude Cards work in the same way. It inspires people to express gratitude in the workplace, but, it goes a step further, and also inspires people to express appreciation for the gratitude. Every time an employee gives a compliment to someone else, the other employee can thank them by signing their Gratitude Card and punching out a spot. After a set amount of punches (for example, twenty punches OR ten distinct punches, etc.), the owner of the respective Gratitude Card gets a prize decided by the department head. This uses the incentive-aspect of the wildly popular punch card and brings it to the workplace.  

This idea not only attaches a tangible goal to being grateful (thereby promoting it), but also promotes appreciation of the gratitude, because both parties need to participate for the gratitude to count--the giver has to initiate the gratitude and the recipient has to punch the card. 

Idea Title

Gratitude Cards

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

This idea will inspire gratitude by incentivizing and attaching a tangible goal (and a road map towards that goal). Employees will have a reason to want to express gratitude. Additionally, it also encourages expressions of appreciation for receiving gratitude. The Gratitude Card system works so that both parties need to participate for a "punch" to be administered. One party gives the expression of gratitude and the other must acknowledge it.

Who are you innovating for?

This benefits the employees in a work space. It makes them want to give and appreciate gratitude and once they realize how good it makes them feel, it might become normalized and they start doing it outside of the workplace as well.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

Workplaces that are small enough to build interpersonal relations. If the workplace is too large, than you can split it to within-departments.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

I think all it would take is for the department head or the manager to present the idea to those under his authority and then hand out the punch cards. A template for the punch card can be uploaded online, so that it can be easily printed out by any office (cutting down on costs and thus, incentivizing its implementation).

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

It would be difficult to ensure that people don't forget about the punch cards, especially if they are very busy and this is viewed as a "silly side project by HR". For this reason, the prize at the end has to be a strong one. This prize can vary between each profession, but it has to be a strong enough incentive to pursue gratitude.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

Try it in small office setting first (they have strong interpersonal relations) and if it works, expand it to other spaces. I hypothesize that it would do better in places with already-existing personal relationships with coworkers, and that it would take longer for places where there is less frequent interaction among coworkers.

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

Developing the Gratitude Card itself and then finding work spaces willing to test the idea.

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

Brainstorming during a class on the psychology of creativity at the University of Michigan.

Tell us about yourself

Mohaymin Kadir. University of Michigan. Psych 443.

Where are you / your team located?

Ann Arbor.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Mohaymin Kadir ,

Great to see you in the Ideas Phase of the Challenge! I'm curious about what would incentivize people to participate in this initiative? How would you measure success?

IDEO recently published a blog about culture and ritual. You may find some of the content helpful in informing your post!

Excited to learn more!