Research has shown that toxic workplace environments impact productivity and morale in a negative way, compared to organizations where positive feelings prevail.
What can managers do to model and encourage a more nurturing workplace culture? And how can employees of small, medium and large businesses enhance their chances for success and advancement while supporting a better work environment? Assistant Professor of Management Tony Kong has found a simple “thank you”” can have a big impact.
“In general, gratitude is completely undervalued in the workplace,” Kong says. “Some people have concerns that they don’t want to appear weak or give power to other people in the workplace by showing appreciation.”
But saying thank you to an advisor for advice you don’t follow – as opposed to remaining silent or showing ingratitude — can have a significant impact on future advising interactions.
“We should not accept all advice but we should be mindful about the negative implications of rejection. “Always say thank you. Even when you are not planning to take the other person’s advice.”
Kong, who studies positive organizational behavior, conducted a series of studies with 2,000 people that established that not saying thank you tends to leave advisors with bruised egos, which then lead advisors to give dishonest advice in the future. Kong concluded that despite concerns that people have about showing appreciation to others in the workplace, it is completely irrational for people to not say thank you to others who can serve as advisors, particularly when they will seek advice from the same advisors.
“Competition for resources is inevitable, but one of the things we can do is develop more positive human relations in the workplace as a buffer,” Kong says. “Gratitude is valued by every religion and every culture. Gratitude can be a social glue that ties people from different cultures together.”
By Julie Bonnin