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In the run-up to Christmas one of the free-to-air channels ran a series of station idents with various presenters saying what the festive season meant to them. Being grateful for friends and family featured highly.

In November I also caught a radio vox pop asking Americans what Thanksgiving meant. In the US, historically, Thanksgiving began as a tradition of celebrating the harvest of the year. However, listening to the responses, it became clear that the meaning has been lost in basting the largest turkey, cooking yams and pumpkin pie.

How has gratitude been so forgotten? Do we need television presenters reminding us of the simplicity of thank you? Surely it’s a virtue that should be remembered and acknowledged everyday, by everyone.

I have a passion for gratitude: in our lives and in the workplace. Generosity of spirit isn’t often taught in an MBA. Yet generosity in the workplace can lift the employer/employee relationship from a purely economic transaction of skills for money to something far bigger.

What’s at stake is the discretionary effort an individual brings to their job role. The difference in the level of effort one is capable of bringing to an activity or a task, versus the effort required only to get by or make-do.

For an employer, what’s more preferable? Engaged employees who go the extra mile? Or the disengaged, only doing enough just to get by? Research shows us that employees prefer to work in organisations that offer them a shared sense of purpose.

Generosity in the workplace starts with an authentic thank you. Recognition. A manager noticing a job well done, then leaving a thank you card and coffee/tea/chai voucher upon the employee’s desk. Putting a structure around gratitude – like a rewards and recognition program – doesn’t make the gratitude less authentic. Instead it brings it front of mind. It creates a value that’s valued.

Recognition Every Day (RED) Toolkit

The RedBalloon for Corporate Team have just launched the Recognition Every Day (RED) Toolkit, an initiative I am particularly proud of. It’s designed to assist managers recognise and thank their team for their daily efforts and achievements. The Toolkit includes everything managers need to deliver everyday praise – including recognition tips, templates and forms, so managers can store important personal information about their employees to know what motivates their people, plus instant reward coupons with ideas like: Take a Time out, Lunch on me, Coffee on me, ‘Notice You’ recognition cards and Praise Post It notes – great for peer-to-peer instant thanks.

So even though I’ve been accused of leading a namby pamby revolution, I encourage you to put generosity at the heart of your workplace this year. Notice people, love them, value their contribution and make them heroes. Make their dreams come true and they will be with you forever – and at the same time they will also give you their valuable discretionary effort.

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