How gratitude can benefit you and your business.

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Small Business Tips

If there were a simple solution proven to lead to fewer sick days, higher team morale, happier customers, and a more pleasant work environment, you’d probably give it a whirl, right? What if it could also make you physically and mentally healthier, and even extend your lifespan?

Good news: this magic cure exists—and it’s free and accessible to everyone.

It’s gratitude.

Study after study has shown gratitude helps people become healthier, happier, and more successful, and it can impact your business in the same ways.

Gratitude’s proven benefits

Enhanced teamwork and customer experience. Gratitude inspires prosocial behavior—that is, behavior intended to benefit other people. When employees are willing to pitch in and help each other, more gets done. Prosocial behavior benefits customers too. A team that’s naturally driven to go above and beyond for each other is likely to do the same for customers.

Stronger work ethic. A study by Glassdoor reports 81% of employees are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. The majority of those polled also said they’re likely to stay at a job longer when they feel appreciated. Happy, hardworking employees and reduced turnover? Sounds like a business owner’s dream come true!

Improved health. People with a positive mental attitude have been shown to have healthier hearts and sleep better. What about those who aren’t naturally positive? Good news: adopting a gratitude practice can improve heart health, sleep quality, and overall wellbeing—so even if your health isn’t 100% today, gratitude can help you turn things around. A recent study showed decreased heart disease risk in patients who regularly journaled about two or three things they were grateful for. Best of all, these impressive results were noted after just two months of journaling.

So how can you incorporate more gratitude into your life and work, and encourage your team members to do the same?

According to Dr. Robert A. Emmons, there are three stages to a gratitude practice:

  • Recognizing what you’re grateful for
  • Acknowledging it
  • Appreciating it

It’s called a gratitude “practice” for a reason—it takes practice. While being grateful may not be something we’re naturally prone to do, it’s a habit well worth developing. With a few tweaks to your daily routine, you, your team members, and your business can enjoy the many benefits of gratitude.

Easy ways to integrate gratitude into your routine

Look for it. Before you can be thankful for something, you have to find something to be thankful for—and if you’re not used to doing that, this can be the biggest step. If you’re struggling, set reminders to pause and reflect on the day’s events. Take a walk around the block, spend a few minutes sitting on park bench, or just focus at your desk, and consider the positives things you’ve experienced. Don’t pressure yourself to look for something grand. Simple things like a sunny morning, a less-hectic-than-normal commute, or a good cup of coffee count.

Act on it. The next time you think, “How nice of my coworker to do that!” let that coworker know how you feel! When gratitude strikes, get in the habit of acting on it. Work that muscle and make it part of your everyday routine. While thoughtful, well-timed gifts are great, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show your appreciation—and some of the most meaningful displays of gratitude don’t cost a penny. Whether it means sending a quick email or text, making a phone call, writing a notecard, or simply saying “thank you,” don’t let those little flashes of gratitude pass without expressing them.

When it comes to your customers or clients, keep your antenna up and look for an opportunity to express gratitude in every interaction. Aim to be specific—instead of “Thank you for calling,” up the ante with “Thank you for being a devoted customer since 2007!” or “Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback about our new platform!”

Write about it. As noted above, journaling daily (or nearly every day) about a few things you’re grateful for is a simple way to cultivate happiness and health. By taking the time to reflect on those things you’re grateful for, you solidify your gratitude practice. The Ruby team recently embarked on a 21-day happiness journal challenge, and you and your team can do the same by setting aside just a few minutes each day. Grab a pen, a notebook, and get to thinking and thanking!

Systematize it. Whatever your preferred ways to show gratitude, create systems to support them. At home, that might mean setting a reminder to journal every evening before bed. At work, you might schedule 10 minutes every day or 30 minutes every week to pen a notecard, draft a thank-you email, or reach out to a customer with a phone call. Stocking the office with notecards, envelopes, and stamps is a low-cost way to encourage your team to send thank-you notes when the mood strikes.

Try adding gratitude checkpoints to your business processes. For example, you might make it a standard practice to send customers a handwritten note on their service anniversary, or surprise customers with birthday cards signed by the entire team. There’s no end of ways to show you care, so play around and see what works for you and your team, then commit to it. You’ll be grateful you did!

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