10 Ways to Show Gratitude in the Workplace

Hello November! We are squarely into the holiday season and it’s time to get intentional about how we want to celebrate. Before the consumer craze of December and Christmas, we love to stop and take a beat for showing gratitude in the month of November. 

We celebrate Thanksgiving with our closest friends and family, but bringing gratitude into the workplace is a great way to improve culture and strengthen relationships. 

10 Ways to show gratitude in the workplace

1. Make Note of Unsung Heroes

It’s easy to express gratitude to the highly visible actors in your space. It’s common for the sales team or the customer-facing parties to get shout-outs or Employee-of-the-Month honors. This isn’t to say their work isn’t important—because it is. It’s just that the behind-the-scenes workers are often forgotten, underappreciated, and eye-rolling in the background as others are noted for the work they enabled. 

This year, make it a point to express workplace gratitude for those behind the scenes. Think outside the box. Whose work is invisible? Who keeps the place running, even though their job may not be the most prestigious or noticeable? You can even send an anonymous survey and ask your team “Who isn’t recognized enough for all they do?” You may be surprised by the answers, and they will be pleasantly surprised when everyone is showing gratitude for them. 

2. Improve Compensation

The absolute best way to show gratitude for your employees is to compensate them accordingly. No amount of company-branded swag, leadership development, or free lunches is going to make them stick around at a job where they are underpaid and underappreciated. 

To truly show appreciation for your employees, see what you can do about raises or seasonal bonuses. If your promotion cycle or budget doesn’t allow for it, you can still recognize the employee and begin the process of increasing their compensation with a performance plan or career development. 

3. Personal AND Professional Gratitude

In the workplace, we focus on showing gratitude for professional work and accomplishments. It’s obviously important to recognize job performance, but we don’t need to stop there. Your coworkers are people outside of their job descriptions. A great way to express gratitude is to look for non-work-related efforts and impressive characteristics that you can highlight. 

For example, you might make note of someone’s friendliness, the best chef, the coolest fashion, the funniest date stories, or simply express gratitude for the non-work-related things your coworkers do. Julie in Accounting bringing cookies on Mondays sure isn’t part of her job description, but it’s DEFINITELY appreciated, you know?

4. Provide a Meal

Businesses have been providing appreciation meals to their employees for as long as we can remember. The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, as they say. Here’s the thing, though: It’s really easy for this to feel like a very weak attempt at appeasing your workforce. 

If you truly want to show gratitude in the workplace with food, we recommend you REALLY do it. Get really good catering from a restaurant your employees know and love. Try to avoid potlucks or having employees chip in for the cost, as they feel like they’re paying for your gratitude. While you’re at it—extend their lunch break so they can truly enjoy it. 

5. Make Kudoboards for Each Coworker

Every year we LOVE seeing gratitude Kudoboards. Maybe we’ve even shed tears over them before, but don’t expect us to admit it. We’ve seen it done really well in two main ways, this one and the next. Let’s start with a Kudoboard for each coworker. 

Many workplaces use Kudoboards as a way to leave, read, and share gratitude for their employees. Simply create a Kudoboard for each team member with their name at the top, then share the thread of links for each employee. Then your employees can take a few minutes to leave individual messages of appreciation for each of their coworkers and exemplary employee performance. It’s incredibly powerful. 

Check out this Kudoboard thanking their office Fantasy Football Commissioner for setting up the league every year

6. General Gratitude Kudoboard

The other effective way to use Kudoboard for workplace gratitude is to create a general gratitude Kudoboard. You’ll start by creating a Kudoboard, then invite everyone to leave a note about what they’re grateful for this year. (We recommend that you encourage pictures—it’s amazing!)

Everyone benefits from this gratitude practice and the mindfulness that comes with it. Plus it’s fun to see what everyone feels most grateful for this year, especially when they share photos or videos of it! It’s a great thing to display via slideshow during an office party or meeting. 

7. Show Appreciation for Customers

November is the perfect time to show appreciation for your customers. Customer retention is important, especially for small businesses. Showing your customers that you are thinking about them can go a long way. 

A useful gift that is relevant to your industry is great (just steer clear of useless branding plugs, like fridge magnets. woof!). If you need to keep the budget minimal, a discount or freebie included with the purchase is an easy way to show gratitude. Another free way to show your customers some love is to give them shoutouts on your social media, a customer hall of fame wall in your business, or just to have your employees personally call and thank their customer accounts. 

8. Offer Gratitude to Vendors, Suppliers, and Support Teams

Expressing gratitude is restorative. As you begin practicing gratitude in the workplace, you’ll notice it becomes easier and easier. You’ll find more and more things to be grateful for, including every supporting actor. 

Your suppliers, vendors, building management, and any other support staff that helps your business succeed are deserving of your gratitude, and your entire team can come together to thank them. 

9. Give a Thank you Gift

We’re not reinventing the wheel here, but a tangible gift is an easy way to show appreciation in the workplace. Whether it’s a boss getting something for their team, a department chipping in to get something for a meaningful team lead, or the company providing a thank-you gift for their employees, Thanksgiving can be the perfect time (Christmas will be hectic and flooded with gifts!). 

Some workplaces provide their employees with a turkey or Honeybaked Ham as a thank you, which is useful and festive. Perhaps you give a gift card or some extra DoorDash budget. Be careful with company-branded items, as employees may not actually appreciate or use them (looking at you, company keychain). 

10. Give Back Together

The holiday season is full of giving, and it’s a time to think about others. Providing service and charity work together is an excellent way to spend meaningful time with your coworkers and boost workplace engagement. A food drive or fundraiser is easy to set up, or you can find fun activities to do together, such as creating kits for refugees or shelters. Talk to your employee resource group or start your own that focuses on positive emotion and service.

The best idea for giving back together is to give to someone within your community. If your workplace has someone facing a serious illness, you might raise money for their medical expenses or make a donation to a relevant illness-fighting foundation. I’m sure you’ve heard of stories like this one, where coworkers banded together to buy a car for a fellow employee who was walking 12 miles home from work every day. What an incredible way to connect and express appreciation!

A Thankful Season

We hope you take some time this November to think about all you have to be thankful for and try to express it. Gratitude in the workplace can make all the difference for your workplace culture and employee satisfaction, as well as strengthening relationships with coworkers and customers. And at Kudoboard we’d like to say that we are thankful for YOU. Happy November!

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