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Making Gratitude A Visual Experience

Tuning in to see/recognize what we are grateful for.

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The very accomplished "English poet of Irish extraction," David Whyte has said, "Gratitude in not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us."  We believe that expressing gratitude in the workplace will occur more genuinely and regularly as we train ourselves to identify on a consistent basis those things for which we are grateful.  To help others learn to recognize and gravitate towards perceptions of gratitude we propose making gratitude visual.  This can be done in a variety of ways that capture cultural differences, allow for sensitivity to individual team members' time and work constraints, and even allow for participation by those that are not often at a traditional worksite/station.  Think of this as an internal "gratitude marketing" campaign where you see and are provided consistent opportunities to participate in expressions of gratitude.  These opportunities range from regular email/text reminders that simply state, "what are you grateful for today," and brief stories on company websites that share "caught ya" moments of individuals witnessing something good done by a co-worker, to hallway corkboards/whiteboards where individuals anonymously post statements of gratitude, or landscaping rocks surrounding the facilities that have written items of gratitude as reminders when entering the workplace. In addition to the cultural and time sensitivities mentioned above, this type of approach allows for expansion and contemporary relevance as it is adaptable over time.  

Idea Title

"Tuning in to See," "Gratitude is Everywhere," "Conscious Gratitude"

How the Idea will inspire the experience and expression of gratitude within an organization.

While feeling grateful is an internal personal choice and we can't require someone to be grateful, we can create environments where the skill sets to recognize and express gratitude are fostered. This idea inspires the experience and expression of gratitude by making the daily overlooked visible. It's not that we are not grateful we just don't take the time to see or express it. Through a "gratitude marketing" we put the idea constantly in the foreground with media, traditional white boards, opportunities to recognize others, employee participation in landscaping with gratitude rocks, etc. We make this visible.

Who are you innovating for?

First and foremost this would benefit team members, however a secondary gain is likely to be had by those external customers we serve who will also see the outside expressions of gratitude and experience the benefits of a happier, more productive workforce.

What type of workplaces are you innovating for?

We are a public service sector of state government that provides services to individuals who are not able to access these services through other means. We are comprised of an 8 county geographical area that provides services to clients from three different field offices. The idea could however be easily expanded of course to cover all 7 of the regions across the state.

How you envision the Idea being introduced to your selected organization?

The regional leadership team would be responsible for implementing the idea, but as we do with most of our regional initiatives we would draw on the assistance and enthusiasm of other team members. Team members have already been solicited for feedback and interest. These individuals would form a "gratitude implementation team" and would go through the meeting process to identify time lines, activities, etc. for rollout. The regional leadership team would be responsible for ensuring that the team was supported and that the campaign continue until it becomes an integral part of daily operations.

What obstacles, if any, do you foresee in implementing this Idea, and how would they be overcome?

There will be some initial resistance by certain individuals who may not readily see the value. That is true in many cultural/internal endeavors. Consistency in program implementation would be helpful in overcoming that challenge. This allows people time to adjust to change and recognize value in the activities.

How will you test and prototype your solution?

Pre and post test gratitude measurements.

What immediate next steps will you take if you receive an implementation grant.

We would not actually be able to receive the financial award because of state fiscal regulations, but if selected would greatly benefit from the mentoring of organizations such as the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. Our organization is comprised of many behavioral health professionals, but we are clinicians by training and not social scientists. We would benefit from outside and professional instructions on implementation and monitoring effectiveness.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: You are exploring an idea, gathering inspiration and information needed to test it with real users.
  • Prototyping: You have conducted some small tests or experiments with prospective users and will continue developing idea through these tests.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Team brainstorm.

Tell us about yourself

Scott M. Rasmussen, LCSW - Regional Program Manager Sarah Bickford-Thorpe, LCSW - Clinical Supervisor Eric Call, LCSW - Clinical Supervisor Mike Waite, LCSW - Regional Program Specialist Lee Wilson, LCPC - Chief of Children's Mental Health Sally Bryan - Office Services Supervisor

Where are you / your team located?

Twin Falls, Idaho

Company / Organization Name

State of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Division of Behavioral Health

Tell us about your experience

Something else entirely. We our outpatient behavioral health providers.


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