The Giving Room is a mobile and desktop application that creates the space for members of an organization to interact in expressions and experiences of gratitude. The application would be built with a simple, easy-to-use interface, and will include a few components:
1. A Gift of Gratitude:
All members of the organization will be invited to join the application on their mobile phones, desktops or other devices. The "note of gratitude" feature will allow any employee to send a direct "gift" to any other employee at any time. The "gift" can be a message, with a specific format built into the app, encouraging you to express gratitude to anyone, at any time. These messages will have several options and features:
- Reminders: The organization or individual can set regular reminders asking employees if there was anyone they wanted to send a gift of thanks to, on a regular basis, e.g. weekly. Note: team members who are leading or managing employees can be prompted to send messages of thanks to all the members of their team as a requirement.
- In-person gifts: Someone can choose to give a physical or in-person "gift" outside of the app, but either sender or receiver can take a quick photo, insert the person's name and document the gift on the app.
- Anonymity: In order to encourage expressions and overcome barriers of fear (initially), the "gift" can be marked as anonymous by the sender.
- Privacy: The "gift" can be marked by the sender as public or private. If marked as public, the receiver can choose to also mark as public or private. Public messages will appear in the Giving Room Wall (see below).
- Feedback: The receiver of the gift can rate how the gift made him/her feel, and can choose to send a brief note of thanks or feedback back to the sender. The rating will add up and go back to the sender on a regular interval, helping them feel positive for sharing their gratitude. The feedback can be used to encourage an exchange. E.g. Sarah sends Josh a message saying: "I am grateful to Josh for putting in so much effort into the proposal we completed this week.". Josh can then rate this gift as making him feel "Good", "Great" or "Made my week!", and can respond with a short note saying "Thanks!", or asking: "I'm curious, what part of the proposal did you like best?", continuing the conversation.
2. Helping-Hand Room:
Giving is a great way to develop positive relationships and emotional connections with the people you're working with. One feature of the app will allow employees to help, serve or support one another in various ways.
The ideas is for employees to be able to dedicate an hour of their time on a regular basis (amount of time can be pre-set by the team or company) in order to support and help another team member out. Each member will be prompted to request a helping hand with something specific they're working on or struggling with. This request will be posted as part of a list, and those who are scheduled to have an hour that week can select someone to support.
The support could be emotional, e.g. talking through a company challenge that's creating stress, or task-related, e.g. supporting someone with the 50 phone calls they need to make before the end of the week. This could also be support with something unrelated to work, e.g. looking through the internet for housing for the following year, if it's causing the employee stress. Whether tasks external to the company work are acceptable can be determined by the teams.
This feature will have to be accompanied with functions that help align calendars around the helping-hand hour, and perhaps around areas of expertise or interest.
3. Serve Together
In addition to supporting one another, another way to build a sense of gratitude is to help, give and serve others outside of the group. This feature will allow teams to schedule time once every 1, 2, 3 or 4 months to serve the community and work together towards helping others. In working towards alleviating the suffering or meeting the needs of others, the group can share, develop and build their own awareness and gratitude internally as well.
This feature will allow team members to suggest 1-3 options or opportunities for serving others. They can then be prompted to vote for the one they prefer, and then set aside time, e.g. 4 hours every 3 months, to do the activity together. Activities could be things like volunteering at a soup kitchen, or visiting hospital patients, or sending letters of encouragement to refugee children, etc.
Upon returning from the giving activity, team members can then use the app to share or post their insights from the experience, and the things they're grateful for as a result. Sharing the experience and the insight afterwards will help create a shared culture of gratitude, reflection and openness.
4. Positivity Prompts
A more static feature of the app can be suggestions and prompts for quick gratitude building and reflection activities that can be inserted into the start of a meeting. Here, teams can find a set of questions, short activities and meditations that can be done between 1 and 10 minutes at the start of a meeting. Sample questions could include:
- What's one story of someone else's suffering that you came across this week? (Sharing stories or examples of suffering can heighten the group's sense of gratitude)
- What are you having to be patient with this week? (remembering the things others are being patient with reminds you of the things you are able to do or take care of more easily, which can build your gratitude)
- What sight, sound or smell brought you joy this week? (sharing specific moments of pleasure or joy can remind you to be grateful for those moments)
There can also be digital prompts for team members to share positive articles of inspiration, life-lessons, etc. with the group.
5. Personal Peace
Similar to a gratitude journal, it would be easy to add a simple feature to the app that allows individuals to reflect on and document their own gratitude, using a specific, "tweet"-like format. This personal reflection can be made public or private, and can be done using reminders or spontaneously.
6. Giving Room Wall
This would be the "wall" where updates and messages and gifts show up. Employees can browse through this wall to see updates and to be inspired by the positive energy that's being shared throughout the organization or team.
Here, they can see public gifts that were given, public notes of peace and gratitude by individuals, and updates on helping-hand hours or reflections from Giving Together activities.
The Wall can be setup in such a way that it highlights certain features at regular intervals, or only appears on one day of the week, so that people look forward to the updates. The wall can also be used to share a rating of how the team is doing with an overall "positivity" or "gratitude" score, based on the number of messages / gifts / hours / giving sent and received, and the ratings given to each.
This space would be a way to encourage a culture that supports and encourages gratitude. Specific "gifts" can also be re-gifted, such that a message of gratitude from person A to B can be echoed by others who agree with the sentiment towards person B.
The concept is simple, but it's the way in which all the ideas come together on single, dedicated and easy to use platform that makes it unique and powerful in shifting organizational culture toward more positivity and gratitude.