9 wasy to increase employee engagement without spending a dime

Unless you’re on the cutting edge of leadership and business culture, you may wonder…

Why should you focus on gratitude when there are so many other sensible “business levers” that directly impact productivity, profits, or performance?

The smart folks over at MIT recently researched what matters most to employees in creating high-performing company culture. The top answer? Feeling Respected.

The most sought after work perk is respect

This research is just one link in an emerging data set on employee satisfaction and performance, which all points to one conclusion:

Employees who feel valued are far more likely to do their best work, more consistently.

If you’re anything like our clients, however, you don’t need a study to know this is true. If the pandemic has taught leaders of mission-driven companies anything, it’s that team energy (or lack thereof) can tip the scales of success drastically.

Which begs the question: how can managers and leaders help their teams feel respected and valued?

You guessed it: gratitude. Which is great news for leaders because you don’t have to break the bank or pull together (yet another) special task force to do it.

9 Easy, Effective, and Free Ways To Show Gratitude

1. Start each meeting with GRATITUDE.
Acknowledge the team or manager is doing well. What are you grateful for? This creates positive energy that is viral and regenerative. People will lean in. Try one of these openers: “I’m noticing a strong commitment toward xx, which is great!” or, “Our team really turned that project around, let’s take time to celebrate this win.”

2. Send 1 “Awesome Job” or “Thank You” email EVERYDAY.
This is a powerful habit to model, helps your team feel seen, heard, and valued. Think of a team member or peer who went above and beyond, showed courage, skill, used positive influence, or had an accomplishment (personal or professional) in the week. Send them an email to congratulate or recognize them. This can be as simple as an email or Slack message to say, “great work on x project”.

3. Adopt a New Opening for your Business Meetings.
Build cohesion and connection before you jump into the business at hand with a 3-question routine.
Each person takes a turn to answer the following questions:

  • What’s the biggest thing on my mind? – folks unload what they are carrying into the meeting
  • What am I most proud of? – opportunity to share wins and gratitudes
  • What is something I need help with? – opens collaboration on how people can support one another
  • Upon completion each person says: “With that, I’m IN!” – signals their presence into the meeting and passes it off to the next person.

4. Hold a weekly/monthly team gratitude circle.
Have team members write one thing they’re grateful for about another team member and place it in a box anonymously. Choose one team member to read them out. Alternatively, form a circle and have team members share their gratitude out loud.

5. Give specific reasons for allocating tasks.
When delegating to any team member, tell them why you’re trusting them with the task based on past performance. Provide context and specific details around what success looks like. Then tell them…”I believe in you!”

6. Acknowledge Stress and Overwhelm.
Say, “Thank you for taking this on. I appreciate you doing this even though you have a lot going on.” or “Is there some time you can take in the next 2 weeks to take a break?”

7. Highlight opportunity in tough situations.
Look for the silver lining in every situation and say why you’re grateful for the “rough patch” to help acknowledge your belief in your employees to make it through.

8. Create space by communicating priorities and extending deadlines.
When you notice overwhelm, help your team focus on the essential projects first. With their head’s down working on completion, be the manager who clearly communicates priorities and shifts them according to team bandwidth. State your intention is to give breathing room to your team when you do this. This recognizes them for what they are facing and assures the quality of their work experience and outcomes.

9. Revitalize your team when energy is waning.
To bring energy into your team, ask this simple question and appoint someone to capture everyone’s responses on a white board:

  1. What is going well in this project?
  2. What are we most proud of that this team has accomplished?
  3. Name one thing we are grateful for working on this project, working for this company?
  4. What do you most appreciate about ….?

After completing everyone’s contribution, take time as a group to absorb everyone’s responses. Take time to notice how it changed the room, changed how each person feels about the work, the project, and how to hurdle whatever challenges you all face.

Now, Your Turn.

We can’t forget one of the most critical people at the center of these gratitudes: you! As a leader, you also deserve to feel valued and respected. You may not have someone to send you “great work” emails or mention you in a gratitude circle though, so how you express and receive gratitude looks a little different if you’re at the top.

One essential skill we help CEOs, managers, and other leaders develop in our Intune Leadership coaching programs is self-gratitude. It’s a vital practice to ensure you keep your tank full, and so you can continue to serve your community, your teams, and your family.

Test out our recommendations for leaders to practice gratitude in our Power Of Gratitude ebook:

Turn Moments Of Gratitude Into A Culture Of Success

Ready to springboard your gratitude into self-sustaining company culture? And have your team(s) work seamlessly and effectively together? Start a conversation with us. With over 80+ years combined experience in employee development, organization, and performance, we close the critical gap many companies don’t have time (or internal skillset) to focus on: human behavior.