Creating a Culture of Gratitude

November 23, 2021
By Jean Nakanishi
A vibrant graphic with people engaging in creative work around a large "THANK YOU" text.

The Great Resignation has reinforced the importance of strong company cultures. This Thanksgiving, we're revisiting the insights from our COO, Jean Nakanishi, on the culture of gratitude that earned iQ 360 a "Hawaii's Best Workplaces" designation. (Originally published on 11/25/20.)

It’s the season for giving thanks. Appreciation and celebration are important parts of iQ 360’s culture, no matter the time of the year. Our shoutout program allows team members to send kudos to their colleagues who deserve recognition for their achievements, big or small. We also set aside time during our all-agency meetings for employees to share kudos with the rest of the team.

By showing gratitude to employees, in formal and informal ways, we’ve been able to establish the strong company culture that earned us our Hawaii’s Best Workplaces recognition once again. In a recent study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers found that students who learn to practice gratitude show improved mental health and wellness. Studies have also shown that employees are as much as 50 percent more productive when their managers show gratitude towards them.

Actively embracing gratitude as a daily habit, at home and at work, takes some getting used to but is well worth the effort. As we all do our best to stay connected and maintain a strong and positive corporate culture, we recommend incorporating gratitude as much as possible.

Here are our suggestions for building a culture of gratitude at your company.


Formalize showing gratitude

Create gratitude-giving opportunities to make it easy for employees to recognize one another for a job well done. Creating a structure, such as a shoutout program or virtual kudos board, encourages celebrating teammates. Ideally, your HR team will also support the effort by following up with small rewards such as gift cards, small tech gadgets, or sweet treats to mark the occasion.


“Studies have shown that employees are as much as 50 percent more productive when their managers show gratitude towards them.”


Practice gratitude daily

A culture of gratitude at work starts with individuals. Practice gratitude in your personal life to get into the habit, and it’s likely that it will carry over to other parts of your day. Management should be setting the example. Some people find it helpful to combine gratitude with a daily positive morning meditation, where they review a “gratitude list” to help start the day on the right foot.


Give back

Consider incorporating community service projects or charitable giving into your company’s holiday activities. Helping those less fortunate is a win-win: a positive contribution to the community that also serves to reset everyone’s perspective on gratitude. It’s also a great reminder of the spirit of the holiday season and how much collective opportunity there is to make the world a better place.


Celebrate the wins

Sometimes there is so much going on, especially when we’re working virtually, that we can forget to stop and celebrate success together when we achieve something big. Take the time to celebrate, recognize the key players, and appreciate the opportunities. This will help everyone stay motivated and take a mental break before diving back into the daily grind.


Final Thought

Thanksgiving is the holiday of gratitude. On November 26th, start with a moment of gratitude to boost your own well-being and also, perhaps, your team’s productivity at work.