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April 2021

Are You Promoting a Culture of Gratitude?

A President of a Chemical company BU once said to me, “Shikha, this company doesn’t have a culture of gratitude, of saying thank you.” His sentence hit me like a bolt out of the blue.

Having a ‘Culture of Gratitude’—especially today—is not only important, but critical to a firm.

As human beings, we inherently feel the need to belong and attach ourselves to things, meanings, and people. While this is true, evidenced, and widely accepted in our personal lives, its importance is seldom understood in the professional realm.

The senior executive’s statement not only helped crystalise my thoughts on the topic, but also furthered my approach to understanding ‘culture’ as an integral part of any firm. “The organization should care about me as a person and not just look at me as someone who is serving a business goal,” he said—and that makes you wonder. How does one build a ‘culture of gratitude’ in a firm? Does it stem from the people and human resources function, or does it begin with leaders at the top?

A meeting with a managing director of a renowned financial services organization helped streamline my thoughts. An hour-long conversation with him discussing his career and achievements included his passion for the network and people in his life. He told me how throughout his professional tenure, he held himself accountable for developing, motivating, and counselling people to grow. Not once did he speak about what revenues he had surpassed, what market-cap his company had achieved under his stewardship, what kind of growth rate his business had seen YOY.

Nurturing and building a culture of gratitude manifests itself in happier people, a happier workplace, and stronger people performance. It is a way for the company to communicate to their employees that the value of their contribution does not go unnoticed. It allows the firm to care for the wellbeing of their workforce as an empathetic priority and not just to enhance business agenda and meet goals.

It also becomes important for leaders to keep reminding oneself to respond to human beings per se and not the situations they are in or what they bring to the table. That, in my opinion, will always ace any number of organisational interventions a company may bring in to motivate and bind employees. 

This is what makes a good leader a great one.

I truly believe that all companies—product or services—are as good as their people; and if they can truly carry the responsibility of the people agenda with as much gusto and focus as they do their business numbers and performance, they will move from good to great too.