3 Ways to Overcome Gratitude Deficit Disorder

Is your organization suffering from “gratitude deficit disorder?”

Quoting U.S. Department of Labor statistics, organizational psychologist Lea Waters says that more than half of the American population suffers from GDD, gratitude deficit disorder: a feeling of being undervalued and unappreciated at work.

“I don’t think GDD is a problem with the individual mindset of people who come to work” says Waters, founder of the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Melbourne, where she studies the relationship between gratitude and job satisfaction. “I don’t think that we wake up each morning and think ‘I’m going to work and I’m going to be ungrateful.’”

Instead, it’s a dysfunction that stems from the culture of an organization, explains Waters in her presentation at the Mind and its Potential conference. It is up to leaders to build a workplace culture that facilitates, fosters, reinforces and rewards feelings and expressions of gratitude. And not only because it feels good, but because it leads to remarkable results. Numerous studies have shown strong links between gratitude and improved job performance, job satisfaction, well-being, customer service, engagement, and productivity.

Here are 3 ways to help your team overcome gratitude deficit disorder, let employees feel valued and recognized, and in doing so, build a stronger, more successful organization.

1. Generate Moments of Gratitude

Leaders can boost job satisfaction by regularly expressing appreciation and prompting their team members to focus on what they are grateful for. Lea Waters suggests creating a gratitude board in the staffroom, providing employees with thank you cards to send to their colleagues, or publicly expressing appreciation during weekly meetings.

2. Amplify Appreciation

When you express your gratitude to one individual or one group, you can set a bigger ripple effect in motion. Waters has also found that when one person expresses appreciation, it can become contagious. When others reciprocate, appreciation becomes amplified across an organization, which ultimately has the potential to positively influence job satisfaction of all employees.

So don’t just “catch people doing things right,” as leadership guru Ken Blanchard recommends. Catch people recognizing others, amplify their message, and watch gratitude go viral.

3. Praise Performance, Not Tenure

Research into employee recognition programs by Bersin by Deloitte found that companies with a “recognition-rich culture” enjoy benefits to the bottom-line of the business that include high employee engagement, low turnover, and better customer service.  Surprisingly, however, only 17% of employees surveyed said that their organizations take full advantage of this. Bersin found that almost 90% of companies have recognition programs that reward tenure, not performance.

If your company doesn’t have a formal recognition program, there are some relatively simple and cost-effective ways to build a culture of gratitude within your team. “We also found that there were some key best-practices which drive this culture,” writes Bersin Principal and Founder, Josh Bersin, “…these include creating a strong peer-to-peer recognition program, focusing recognition on corporate goals and behaviors, story-telling, and giving recognition frequently and openly.

So don’t just give thanks at the Thanksgiving table. You can attack the gratitude deficit by recognizing your team year-round, and creating a team culture of gratitude. I can’t think of a more gratifying way to boost your team’s engagement, well-being and job satisfaction.

Jo Miller

Jo Miller is a globally renowned authority on women’s leadership. She’s dedicated two decades to helping women advance into positions of influence by leveraging their leadership strengths. Based on her work with hundreds of thousands of women, she developed a pragmatic and powerful roadmap that guides women to become the leaders they aspire to be. Jo shares this proven process in her book Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive (McGraw Hill, 2019.)

Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.com and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

Leaderly Quote: We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses…
Leaderly Quote: We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses…

We are often so focused on trying to fix our weaknesses that we neglect to

Book Review of Woman of Influence: A Handbook for Building a Professional Brand
Book Review of Woman of Influence: A Handbook for Building a Professional Brand

The first book review of Woman of Influence is in! Here’s what Jo Miller’s hometown

Leaderly Quote: Don’t become indispensable for doing work that hides your potential
Leaderly Quote: Don’t become indispensable for doing work that hides your potential

Don’t become indispensable for doing work that… • hides your potential • sells short your

Unhappy at Work? Persuade Your Boss to Redefine Your Job.
Unhappy at Work? Persuade Your Boss to Redefine Your Job.

Every morning, Jonas backs into a parking spot at work so he can leave faster

If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.
If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.

These bonus opportunities have the power to boost your leadership cred and wholly transform your

The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop
The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop

There are strong arguments for and against the debated practice, but for millennial women, job-hopping

Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment
Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment

Recent years have been full of talk about how to elevate women at work. Have you

Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?
Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?

On speaker panels, does the panelist order matter? If you’ve ever attended or spoken on

4 Tips for Failing Forward
4 Tips for Failing Forward

After you make a mistake, it’s easy to focus intently on your defects. And then

Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism
Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—July 9, 2019—The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is pleased to honor Selena

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly