Implement a “pay it forward” system of gratitude in the workplace! For example, distribute several gratitude “tokens” amongst coworkers, with clear instructions that these “tokens” are to be paid forward, in person, 24 hours (or within some time-frame) after they have been received. On these tokens, there should be a space to indicate, specifically, for what reason someone deserves the “token.” One’s reason for giving can be anything from “Thanks Alice for cleaning the conference room after today’s meeting” to “Jerome, your Christmas sweater brightened my day today.” This system of paying gratitude forward can be expressed across different managerial levels, from the highest executive to the newest, most inexperienced team members.
This solution addresses a few key points that can be overlooking when expressing gratitude at work. Firstly, gratitude in the workplace should not be specifically reserved for tangible tasks that people complete. Appreciating someone for the positive energy they contribute, or for cheering you up during a rough morning is just as important as congratulating someone on completing a big project. Acknowledging these "intangibles" provides a way to establish a more intimate workplace setting; one in which people are valued for the work they contribute and for their character. Secondly, gratitude should not be over-expressed, as it loses meaning when it’s excessive. Having a limited number of “tokens” in circulation means when you receive one, it is meaningful (however, you also want to have enough in circulation so that people have plenty of opportunities to receive one). Thirdly, expressions of gratitude should be very specific, as it makes the gesture more significant. Therefore, including a space for a personal message makes the “token” mean more. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a pay it forward system such as this provides a tangible element to “gratitude.” The process of physically handing this “token of appreciation” to another individual makes the experience more personal, more real, and more meaningful.