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Expressing gratitude in the workplace has positive health benefits

Researchers suggest the practice could improve work satisfaction

Photo (c) g-stockstudio - Getty Images
Saying “thank-you” is habit for many consumers as they go about their day-to-day routine, but expressing gratitude while at work could come with a number of positive benefits, according to a new study.

Researchers from Portland State University say that being thanked in the workplace can lead to improved mental and physical health for employees.

A study of nurses

The researchers chose to focus their study on a group of nurses, who often work long hours and feel run down after shifts.

“Nurses tend to have a thankless job,” said researcher David Cadiz. “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.”

Nearly 150 nurses were involved in the study, and they completed weekly surveys for 12 weeks  which asked them to describe their experiences at work, their overall health, and both positive and negative events that occurred over the course of the week.

The outcome was clear: when the nurses were thanked more for their work, they experienced several physical and mental benefits.

The researchers explain that the nurses felt better about themselves and the work they do after receiving gratitude, which improved their quality of care with their patients and also led to healthier eating habits, better quality of sleep, and fewer headaches.

“This type of study helps us understand how to keep nurses in the workforce in a healthy way,” said Cadiz. “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.”

Cadiz suggests that corporations work to incorporate gratitude into their day-to-day routines as a means of keeping morale up with employees and creating a more positive culture in the workplace.

“Employees that receive positive feedback are healthier, and that can impact the bottom line,” Cadiz said. “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.”

Effective in the home

As effective as expressing gratitude can be in the workplace, a recent study found that teaching children and teens to foster a mindset of gratitude can be just as beneficial.

Researchers suggest that parents help their children and teens stave off materialism by focusing on being grateful for the things and people already in their lives.

“Our findings show that it is possible to reduce materialism among young consumers, as well as one of its most common negative consequences (non-generosity) using a simple strategy -- fostering gratitude for the things and people in their lives,” wrote researcher Lan Nguyen Chaplin.

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