Program: All employees of company (large or small) will be separated randomly into micro groups with about 5-6 people each. They will meet once a month and employees can take turns “leading” the group through a series of gratitude related exercises. (There will be a website with resources on gratitude related educational information and basic exercises.)
Meeting Specifics: Groups will meet for 45 mins – 1 hour and spend the time studying one element of gratitude and doing a short exercise. This short exercise is more to demonstrate a specific form of gratitude. Each month, a different person can choose which element of gratitude to focus on and which exercise to lead. Education of how gratitude/appreciation works and it’s benefits are core of this program.
Group Selection: Groups will include employees of mixed seniority and cultures. There is no hierarchy during group meetings. New employees will join a micro group at random based on space. Micro networks will stay the same throughout the employee’s employment at the company (unless there is a valid reason for creating specific groups.) There is a deliberate mix of employees from different departments.
Attendance: Group presence is mandatory (you cannot opt out of groups) but you also don’t have to participate vocally unless you are comfortable. This group is also separate from the typical relations employees may have with their peers or their supervisors. It’s a chance employees to meet people within the organization that they normally would not get to interact with.
- Month 1: Topic | What is Gratitude? What is Appreciation? Read quick article from the resource website and discuss for 20-25 mins. Exercise | Go around the room and introduce yourself and talk about the one thing you’re most grateful for.
- Month 2: Topic | What are some of the studied benefits of gratitude? Read quick article from the resource website and discuss for 20-25 mins. Exercise | Think of a person you don’t feel like you could ever be grateful for. Then think of one thing you can be grateful to that person for. Share if you are comfortable.
- Month 3: Topic | Gratitude for the Wrong Reasons – Why it doesn’t count… Read quick article from the resource website and discuss for 20-25 mins. Exercise | Take post-it notes and write positive things about members of your group. Post them up under their name on a white board.
Why this Idea?
Gratitude is not a one-dimensional thing. Everyone feels gratitude and appreciates things differently. Everyone also expresses gratitude and appreciation differently. By using educational tools, people can learn how to understand other people’s language of gratitude or appreciation and also learn of some methods to improve their expression of gratitude.
Gratitude and appreciation can also be affected by many different elements of your life. For some, stress might make it more difficult to feel gratitude, while for others, stress is the one time they remember to appreciate the little things. Everyone can benefit from learning how to utilize gratitude/appreciation in a more scientific way to better their mental health and improve the work culture.
Why not 1-1 sessions with HR or other?
Micro groups work because one-on-one sessions rely too heavily on the 2 participants involved to complete the exercises the “proper way” to get a “proper result.” Small groups have been proven in many different settings (study groups, friend groups, book clubs, religious groups) to help build trust between members which leads to a deeper trust of the overall organization and a deeper connection to the work community overall. Also small groups help because everyone brings differing opinions, ideas and perspectives to the table.
Micro groups allow participants to have an intimate conversation about gratitude and personal moments of appreciation without stepping over the professional relationship line. Many different topics can be addressed based on who is leading (topics that are not appropriate for work can be outlined on the informational website mentioned above) which allow people to feel more empowered since they can choose what to discuss out in the open.
Why keep the groups the same?
Gratitude and appreciation will also be more genuine if you can form trust, and trust takes time to build. Having the same group of people meet over time will help grow relationships that will keep your organization strong. Instead of a bunch of individuals working to advance their career in a singular mentality, the micro groups will form a different type of support network that will help employees professionally. It will also open up the work world for employees that are usually focused on a single task or department. It’s also an outlet for employees to understand that they’re an important part of a whole and bring important perspective that they might not get otherwise.
Why once a month?
Once a month was chosen because employees are busy with their day to day activities and gratitude will feel forced if weekly meetings are held. Things like thank you notes or obvious gestures of gratitude can be fun at first but become burdensome on employees over time. You may have employees that are upset because they didn’t feel as appreciated as the person next to them. There might be additional stress added to employees that feel obligated to show gratitude toward each and every person equally so it doesn’t look like they’re playing favorites. Rewarding gratitude also makes it easy for people to show gratitude for the wrong reasons which would defeat the purpose of the program over time.
Fun things you can do:
- Micro groups can be named.
- Over time as people get more comfortable, they may also want to bring some home baked goods to share.
- Groups that have been meeting for a while can do more advanced activities & there can be more practice in application of gratitude/appreciation.
- If your company offers social activities or community service activities, you can bond with your group or other groups.