Read this and you’ll thank a colleague every single day
Thank a colleague for what they do, and it improves the physical and mental condition of both that colleague and you. That’s the evidence from a recent study by Portland State University and Clemson State University.
The study explained
The university staff ran a study of 146 nurses practicing in Oregon, USA. Nurses in the USA are subject to burnout at an especially high rate, because of the physical and emotional stress of their work. That stress is why they were perfect for the study.
Over three months, the nurses in question completed surveys about their experiences inside and outside work. There was a notable correlation between nurses being offered gratitude at work and uptick of mental health as the weeks wore on.
How “thank you” boosts health
Thanking colleagues affects both their mental and physical health. The two are inextricably linked, and inform each other. Alleviation of mental stress from being thanked is the catalyst for other health benefits.
Improving a co-worker’s mental health is the most tangible outcome of taking the time to thank a colleague. They’ll feel appreciated, know their work is appreciated, and enjoy a positive afterglow they’ll carry into the hours and days after hearing your thanks.
Feeling gratitude increases overall job satisfaction, and lowers the stress employees feel while going about their work. That lower stress makes it easier to handle difficult situations in the workplace, resulting in an overall more positive work experience.
Giving gratitude, in turn, makes us feel good. Contributing to a positive feedback mechanism gives the person dispensing gratitude a feeling of wellbeing that carries over into their own work.
The physical health aspect comes down to two areas – lower stress and better self-care. Both have a strong link to the mental health benefits of hearing gratitude.
On a direct level, people who feel less stress from work get sick less often, and they enjoy better sleep. But there’s also a knock-on effect; less stress leads to employees exercising more self-care.
By lowering overall stress levels and making staff feel better, the nurses in the university study showed a greater level of self-care. When hearing gratitude, the nurses in the study were more likely to make positive lifestyle choices, which in turn fed back into their physical health.
Time to take action
Get out there and thank a colleague doing something worthwhile. When you see someone doing well, let them know. Not just behaviour that benefits you and your work directly, but for performance that benefits the whole workplace. Ethical behaviour, exemplary service, improvements in their performance, or even small but worthwhile gestures for other staff.
Or, if you’re in management, encourage and facilitate your employees showing gratitude for each other. Put systems and schemes in place that make it simple for your staff to express gratitude.
Good for you, good for your business
Thank a colleague today. It’s good for you. It’s good for your coworkers. And if you’re an employer, that’s good news for more than just your conscience.
Long term, having a more mentally and physically healthy workforce is good for business. Lower stress and healthier lifestyle choices reduce the amount of working days lost to sickness. Mentally healthy employees, with lower levels of unhealthy stress, are more likely to be productive and stay in your company for longer.