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Provocations to Spark your Ideas

For the Gratitude in the Workplace Challenge, we encourage you to innovate around the key Evaluation Criteria we list in the Challenge Brief. Please familiarize yourself with these design parameters before you begin the ideation process. We also encourage you to draw on the "Resources to Spur Your Ideas" that we list in the Brief.

Below we include more details about the type of Ideas we're hoping to see. 


Leading Ideas for this Challenge should help employees surmount some of the psychological and structural hurdles to gratitude at work. They should meet at least one, if not all three, of these criteria: 

  • Internal // Internal to Organizations. Ideators should propose ideas to be implemented inside organizational and workplace cultures, not concepts to help organizations express gratitude externally, such as to their customers or shareholders. 
  • Authentic // Authentic Gratitude over Obligatory Gratitude. Ideas should try to facilitate genuine feelings and expressions of gratitude, not mandate or force them. This means recognizing and appreciating the many types of gifts that an individual or organization has provided to others, whether they be gifts of time, effort, material goods, or social or emotional support. Authentic gratitude recognizes the intention that went into that gift, the effort or other cost incurred by the gift, and the benefit or value it provides to those who received it. The goal is to make these experiences and expressions of gratitude more authentic and habitual; they shouldn’t be driven by a desire to increase productivity or curry favor with others. 
  • Systemic // Think Big, Think Broad. Ideas should consider the complexities of organizational structures and experiences, and design solutions that can be implemented broadly, perhaps even system-wide. At the same time, they should also be specific, mindful of how they would actually be implemented in organizations.

As described in the Challenge Brief, we welcome Ideas that involve experiencing gratitude on an individual level, that foster expressions of gratitude between colleagues or within teams, or even those intended to create cultural shifts in how organizations operate.


During the Research Phase of the Challenge we saw a number of compelling themes emerge. We encourage you to consider some of these themes as you design your innovations.

1. Management Sets the Tone

Many of our participants noted the importance of management support and leadership when it comes to devising and implementing systemic gratitude practices. We often look to leaders to set the example in the workplace, whether that is in the way they interact and communicate with their employees, the way they lead teams, or how they choose to show gratitude or appreciation during a big project. 

For examples, see these Research posts:

How might we inspire and enroll management to incorporate regular, authentic, and systemic expressions of gratitude into the way they work and interact with their employees?

2. It Can be Difficult to Express or Experience Gratitude in Fast-Paced, High-Stress Work Environments

High-stress, fast-paced, or entrepreneurial workplaces can often prioritize speed and task execution above all else. In this type of culture, gratitude can sometimes feel like it gets in the way of productivity or slows the overall pace of the organization. Even more challenging is when gratitude begins to feel as though it simply doesn’t align with this type of workplace culture. 

For examples, see these research posts:

How might we account for the demands of a fast-paced workplace while also creating time and space to incorporate gratitude practices into this environment? 

3. Gratitude Across Cultures

Gratitude can be viewed in many different ways depending on where you are in the world, as well as what type of workplace culture you are a part of. At times, what is seen as a deep and authentic expression of gratitude in one region may not resonate in another. Gratitude can have culturally specific attributes that should be considered when working on global, remote, or culturally diverse teams. 

For examples, see these research posts:

In a world with an increasing prevalence of remote, multi-cultural workplaces, how might we adopt gratitude practices so that they resonate with and celebrate everyone?

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The Tree Of Gratitude is a personal and team practice of expressing gratitude and mapping its sources.

The Tree Of Gratitude is a personal and team practice of expressing gratitude and mapping its sources.

Photo of Matt
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Creating common goals, by embedding a team component within performance reviews, to facilitate instances of gratitude in the day-to-day.

Creating common goals, by embedding a team component within performance reviews, to facilitate instances of gratitude in the day-to-day.

Photo of Angie Caro
5 5