‘Tis the season for turkey, saying thanks, and spending time with loved ones while temperatures start to drop and holiday lights go up. But lately at work, it’s felt like the season for layoffs, tight budgets, and asking our teams to do more with less.
Although times are proving hard to weather, it’s when the going gets tough that showing gratitude for what we do have becomes even more important. And, at work, what we have are our coworkers, our teams, and the things we accomplish together every day. Even the word “together” has taken on new meaning in the past few years—when we’ve gone from sitting together in offices, call centers, or meeting rooms to sitting at home, connected through a screen. With many teams fully hybrid or remote these days, the team you’re feeling grateful for might be one you’ve never even met in person.
Whether you’re sitting several feet or thousands of miles away from your team, expressing gratitude at work is equally important—and it has as many benefits for the giver as the recipient.
Here are 10 ways to show gratitude to your employees, teammates, and leaders—we hope they encourage you to take a moment to tell or show someone how thankful you are this season.
1. Recognize alignment with your company's core values
When a colleague or employee shows a steadfast commitment to your company’s core values or puts them into practice (in team meetings or online conversations), applaud them for doing so. Just a simple note on Slack, such as “I really appreciated the way you grabbed the paddle and owned it in the last meeting by offering to dive in and help,” or “Thanks for wearing the customer cap in that last brainstorming session and helping us all focus on the customer” will let them know their alignment with company values is seen and appreciated.
2. Start a Cheers chat channel
Create a dedicated Slack channel for people to celebrate each others’ achievements and give shout-outs (not just around the holidays—make it year-round!). To spark conversation—and commendations—share a weekly prompt that encourages folks to shout out team members who are doing great things.
3. Send handwritten thank you notes
There’s something extra special when someone takes the time to write a sentiment down by hand. Writing a note to say ‘thank you’ will go a long way. And if your team is hybrid or remote, you can pop it in the mail or simply snap a picture and send it over to the recipient.
4. Give them compliments
Giving a compliment is a great way to show someone gratitude. Offer it in person or virtually, and try to make it fun! If giving someone kudos online, think about using an emoji or GIF. If you’re sending it via Pathlight, include a GIFt!
5. Give them a break
For some, one of the best ways to feel appreciated is to be given time back. Consider taking some tasks off an employee’s plate for a day or two and completing them yourself. Or, give them some time off if you can. Encouraging them to focus on themselves is a great way to thank them for focusing on your company.
6. Reward them with fun events
While we’re accustomed to having parties for birthdays, gratitude should be celebrated, too! Host an event—in person or virtually—as a reward and way of saying thank you to your team. It can be as simple as a lunch or picnic together, virtual happy hour, or group activity. If you want to go the extra mile, send your team a gift certificate or package ahead of time to enjoy together during the event (such as a food delivery credit, craft kit, or tasting box).
7. Express appreciation in public
Showing gratitude doesn’t need to happen in a crowd, but it can definitely amplify the feeling of appreciation when it’s expressed in public. Consider sharing gratitude or giving shout-outs during your next All-Hands presentation so that your employee can feel the love from everyone, not just you.
8. Give credit—even if someone isn’t there to hear it
If someone has made a great contribution or shared an awesome idea, give them credit, whether they’re in the room or not. Not only does giving someone credit in their absence show others that you’re an advocate, it shows that you’re grateful for their contribution or idea.
9. Get to know how someone appreciates being appreciated
Sometimes, simply asking someone how they like to receive appreciation or gratitude goes a long way. It shows that you’re considering their feelings and how your message of gratitude will be received at its fullest. In your next 1:1, try asking your team members how they like to be acknowledged—publicly, privately, in writing or in person—so you can show them your gratitude in a way that makes them feel it.
10. Encourage others to show gratitude, too
Expressing gratitude at work doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so setting an example—and opening the floor for others to share their thanks—can make a big difference in creating a culture of gratitude. Whether you invite people to share what they’re grateful for via Slack, in your next team meeting, or on a whiteboard at the office, you’re contributing to a more engaged, positive, and connected team.