Every single way that teams communicate should be a channel for expressing gratitude. However, while online communications channels are gaining in prevalence, brief instant messages such as “thx” and GIF’s which only nominally express gratitude are far more frequent than genuine, authentic, and systemic expressions of thanks. In a research post that greatly influenced my idea, University of Michigan student Daniel Wexler noted the importance of the “#positive-focus channel” within his company’s Slack workspace, “which was used solely for acknowledging team members’ successes and for recognizing someone’s hard work.” Whenever Daniel received a shout-out, he received an instantaneous rush of happiness, affirming his value as a worker. Most companies, unfortunately, do not seem to have such a public and ubiquitous setting for expressing gratitude. Furthermore, past simply giving a setting for expressing thanks and affirmation, the Slack channel does not do enough to actively encourage affirmation.
I envision a communication tool that directly integrates with online messaging platforms (e.g. Slack) to provide a shared space for expressing direct affirmations and gratitude, tracking these messages of thanks by giver and receiver, and presenting a gratitude score to employees at all levels. In the first sense, the tool would act as an automated Slack bot that would encourage each employee at random times to remind them to express gratitude within the channel, while also maintaining the channel for giving thanks. Secondly, every time an employee expresses a targeted gratitude (as shown in the example message), this tool would note the sender, receiver, and any positive reactions to the message to generate a cumulative score for the two employees involved. Such a score would mirror karma scores on Reddit, YikYak, and other social platforms by “gamifying” positive activity on the channel, inspiring a healthy sense of competition and exponentially higher volumes of gratitude. The tool could also integrate with the org chart, allowing for useful analytics on cross-functional teams and how they express gratitude. Finally, the Slack bot would present this score to employees and managers before performance review along with the specific affirmations received and given, for context. Through centralizing and tracking online expressions of gratitude, companies will be able to robustly reward team members who contribute the most to a positive, fulfilling office culture.