Let´s talk about Gratitude

By Gabriela Pereira, OpenIDEO Barcelona Chapter Team


Take a minute to think about your day. How many times have you said thank you today?

You may be thinking of how you said thanks to the girl who held the door for you, or the guy at the grocery store counter. Yes, we do say thank you a few times a day, but that’s not what we mean. We mean a real thank you, a real moment of gratitude.


What is gratitude?

Robert Emmons, a leading scientific researcher on gratitude, believes that gratitude has two parts: “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.” Secondly, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that other people . . . gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”. That is, to feel grateful is to recognize that our lives are better because of other people’s efforts on our behalf.

Gratitude is, therefore, more than just an action, is a positive emotion, and one that has a powerful effect on our lives.

Benefits of gratitude


When searching for the benefits of gratitude, that’s the search result we found. But we dare say that gratitude has more benefits than grapes, grapefruit and granola combined.

Hundreds of studies have documented the many social, physical and psychological benefits of gratitude. To name only a few:

  • Gratitude makes us happier. Many researchers have found that practicing gratitude is one of the most reliable methods for increasing happiness and life satisfaction. It also boosts feelings of optimism and enthusiasm, while it reduces anxiety and depression.

  • Gratitude is good for our health and well-being. It strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure and reduces levels of stress. Grateful people also exercise more, sleep better and take better care of their health.

  • Gratitude strengthens relationships. It makes us feel closer and more committed to our loved ones, and showing appreciation may even win us some new friends. 

  • Gratitude promotes forgiveness. Grateful people are more helpfulaltruistic, and compassionate. In other words, more prosocial. People who rank higher on gratitude scales experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people.


Gratitude at work

As you can see, many of these benefits have direct relevance and value to the modern workplace. Most companies want to have happy, healthy, social employees. But gratitude can do even more to our work environment. According to research, grateful people feel more job satisfaction, achieve more and are less likely to burn out. Besides, grateful leaders are more likely to succeed and motivate their employees to be more productive. In one study from Harvard University, receiving a thank you from a supervisor boosted productivity by more than 50%!

However, research has shown that people are less likely to feel grateful at work than in any other place. In fact, only 10 percent of people say they thank their colleagues on a given day and 60 percent say they never or very rarely express gratitude at work. And we wonder why there are so many people feeling unappreciated? The U.S. Department of Labor claims the number one reason why people leave their jobs is lack of appreciation.

So, how might we inspire experiences and expressions of gratitude in the workplace?

Well, that’s exactly what we are trying to find out at OpenIDEO with the “Gratitude at the workplace Challenge”, where a total of $40,000 in Implementation Grants will be distributed to organizations or participants who have submitted or helped to refine Top Ideas.

Last September 23rd, OpenIDEO Barcelona Chapter in collaboration with TeamLabs held a workshop where 30 amazing participants, with the help of Social Coin, Delivering Happiness, and SOM Hotels, dived into the research phase.

Here are some of the insights we had;

  • Management plays a crucial role as a model of gratitude. But there’s also little gratitude towards management. It should be bottom up and top down.

  • The gratitude culture should be a virtuous circle shared by every member of an organization.

  • A culture of gratitude can connect the employee with the organization and its mission. It can make him/her feel part of something bigger and more committed to the work.

  • It may be difficult to express gratitude in competitive, fast paced environments. Competitive people may feel that expressing gratitude is a sign of weakness.

  • There are different profiles, different generations, working together but not understanding each other. There are many ways to express gratitude, according to the generation and workplace environment.

  • Gratitude goes beyond a simple thank you. When expressing gratitude, we should be specific and say why and how an act has impacted our lives.

  • We are not willing to see work as a sacrifice or an obligation.

  • We’ll not feel grateful at work if we don’t practice gratitude in our personal lives.  

With these insights in mind, we have now entered the most creative phase of the challenge, ideation and prototyping, and for that phase we are organizing an IDEATHON, a 100% 'Learning By Doing' experience through Design Thinking. If you would like to learn more about gratitude and help us close the gratitude gap, come join us.

When and where? On October 21, in TeamLabs (Carrer Casp, 80)
Hours: from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (with break for food / coffee / tea)
See you there!


More information about OpenIDEO Barcelona Chapter at OpenIDEO Barcelona Chapter