How often do you thank your colleagues? Do you express gratitude when they hold the door open for you or when they complete their work on time?
Would you do it more often if you knew that it would improve the quality of their lives?
Well, according to a new study by Portland State University researchers, workplace gratitude can improve physical and mental health amongst employees.
The study, which was entitled “Gratitude reception and physical health: Examining the mediating role of satisfaction with patient care in a sample of acute care nurses,” shows that being thanked more often at work had a whole host of benefits. These include better sleep, fewer headaches and healthier eating.
For the study, researchers surveyed a group of Oregon nurses. They choose this profession as it has a particularly high rate of burnout.
“Nurses tend to have a thankless job. It’s very physical, and they’re often being screamed at by patients who are at their lowest. When nurses receive gratitude, it boosts them,” David Cadiz, the lead researcher for the study explains.
“This type of study helps us understand how to keep nurses in the workforce in a healthy way. Nurses strongly align their profession with their identity and often look out for patients more than themselves. The gratitude matches up with their identity, gives them satisfaction in a job well done and ultimately increases self-care.”
But the research doesn’t just apply to nurses. Many people inherently connect their identity to their job and feelings of appreciation within their roles. As a result, employers who understand this can create positive social and economic change within their business.
Cadiz believes that employers should create formal or informal opportunities for people to express gratitude.
“Employees that receive positive feedback are healthier, and that can impact the bottom line,” adds Cadiz. “Preventing headaches and other stress-related symptoms means fewer sick days, and, in this case, cuts down the cost of replacement nurses and overtime pay.”
What’s the lesson that we should take from this study? Always express gratitude when you see someone doing a good job. A positive feedback loop impacts you and those around you, and can ultimately shape a healthier and happier community.