Last week I took it upon myself to celebrate colleague appreciation day at work.
To my knowledge, no such thing officially exists. I was thinking about how much I appreciate my colleagues (for different reasons) and that I wanted to make some sort of gesture to express that gratitude. I thought about doing some baking to bring to work (a favourite way of expressing gratitude of mine) and I also thought about writing some little notes telling my colleagues exactly why it was that I was appreciating them.
I know that expressing (or at least, being aware of) your gratitude is linked to wellbeing.
A study by Randy and Lori Sandsone states “Experiencing gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation tends to foster positive feelings, which in turn, contribute to one’s overall sense of well being.” Basically, telling people why you’re grateful, makes you feel good. So I was all set to tell my colleagues how much I appreciated them, knowing that it would likely give them a little boost, but also knowing I’d feel really good.
Then I thought – why keep all the gratitude to myself?
If I know that expressing gratitude can improve your wellbeing, why not give my colleagues the opportunity to express themselves too? So, colleague appreciation day was born. I did it the old school way – collected ten envelopes, and everyone got one with their name on it. Then over the course of the day, we all wrote little post-its with expressions of gratitude and appreciation on them and popped in the envelope. By the end of the day, everyone had a nice bulging envelope to take home (not to mention a few cookies in their belly!).
It worked. People felt great.
But you know what the funny thing was? Everyone felt so connected and cohesive as a team – before anyone had read their own appreciations. It was the simple fact of sharing how they appreciated each other that led to the uplifting feelings, not hearing how people appreciate them. The next day, waiting in line for coffee with one of my colleagues, she said to me (again, before she’d read her collection of appreciations): “After colleague appreciation day yesterday, I went home thinking about what it’s like working here, and I decided that it might actually be the best job I’ll ever have.”
There were so many warm and fuzzy feelings going on, I felt a real sense of bonding with my workmates. Have you thought about expressing your gratitude and appreciation in your workplace? Do you think your colleagues would be into it?
Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 7(11), 18–22.