Gratitude is behind much of the joy, hope, and progress we make in the workplace, and yet it's poorly understood and implemented in many organizations. Sincerity is crucial in gratitude, and Beck (2016; see pdf for references, details) defines four facets of sincere gratitude:
May (1996), further explains that false gratitude is worse than none, as it creates anxiety rooted in a disconnect between reality and expectations. So in order to create gratitude, we need genuine opportunities to express it: someone to thank.
To give thanks requires a reason. This means we need to solve problems in the workplace. Potential solutions for common problems are obvious: training and career growth, mentoring, self-development, communication within a company. Beyond that, each company will have its own "gratitude attitude" culture and also its own problems. Creating systems which solve these problems, as well as offering methods of recognition, should create ample opportunities for thanks.
Based in the very human needs of recognition, growth, and reciprocity, these methods can be implemented not only at the departmental and company level, but individually. We know from system psychology that individuals can change systems. I therefore suggest training individuals in problem-solving that results in gratitude and humility - which might be expressed to themselves as well as others - for individuals who want to be the change but whose cultures aren't willing to take it on as a group.
(Aside: I believe the authenticity of the problem-solving and engagement by people could help reduce imposter syndrome.)
Research needs to occur to study successful instantiation of gratitude in organizations, and to determine success metrics. I would base quantitative and qualitative metrics in accepted psychological and sociological inventories, as well as service and product design analytics. Innovative new measures may evolve from this. A baseline needs to be obtained for each company, so change can be tracked.
Consultants should work with companies to:
- Engage brainstorming and problem-solving top-down and bottom-up. Even if the consultant knows a solution, if the company comes up with it on their own they will be that much more engaged and invested.
- Tailor solutions to company size, culture, and industry. Part of this includes evaluating the company's particular gratitude attitude, which gives us the baseline for measurement mentioned above.
- Follow up as companies adjust to the new approach and new solutions.
Eventually techniques can be taught to others and spread more widely. Principles, tests, case studies, methodology, and analytics should be published in a journal and online, to provide a springboard for others.