Improve Your Professional Life with Gratitude


Depending on where you’re located, fall may look like trees protesting winter with a final, fantastic display of colors. Or it’s simply that (dreaded) earlier sunset, clear skies and chilly nights. Whether you live in New England or the Southwest or anywhere in between, fall is here, and with it comes the holiday season.

For many school district professionals, this season is also a busy one at work. Turns out, a little gratitude can go a long way in helping you cope with, and even enjoy, the chaotic days ahead.

So, to celebrate Thanksgiving and to kick off this holiday season, let’s take a moment to appreciate the little things. But first, we’ll start with the basics: what gratitude can do for us in our professional lives and why it matters.

Why Gratitude?

Because science.

Really, though. A white paper from Berkley University examined recent studies on gratitude in the workplace and found the following: “studies suggest that gratitude may help employees perform their jobs better, feel more satisfied at work, and act more helpfully and respectfully toward their coworkers.1

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In particular, gratitude was found to be a predictor for relationship management skills at work2. You know that feeling when you wake up on the “wrong side of the bed”? The one that seems to haunt you throughout your day: on your way to work, you sit in even more traffic than usual. Then, before you’ve even sat down at your desk you’re being asked to put out fires. Add in a difficult conversation or confrontation with a coworker, and you’re in for a rough day. Now think about how you feel when you wake up on the right side of the bed. Like you can conquer anything, right? You can handle difficult conversations or situations with some patience and understanding. Even if you have an exhausting day, it feels rewarding.

Gratitude can’t change the traffic, but it can shift the way you handle challenging moments. Not all at once, of course, but moment by moment.

Turning Appreciation into Action

If you work in a school district, you know how important relationship management is. Of course, HR departments are in a unique position to set the tone. One way your HR department might cultivate a more thankful culture? Start an employee appreciation program and encourage employees to recognize one another for their work.

With a national teacher shortage, HR departments aren’t the only ones under pressure. The teacher and sub shortage affects everyone from fellow educators to those who work with special populations. With millennials making up a bulk of the work force, some districts are wondering how K-12 can compete with start-up culture perks like ping pong tables and mini-fridges. And then there’s the competition among K-12 districts to attract—and keep—the best talent

Good news: engaging employees goes deeper than surface-level amenities.

So what’s something that will help you retain your best employees? Investing in professional learning. According to a Gallup study on employee-manager relations, “when managers help employees grow and develop through their strengths, they are more than twice as likely to engage their team members.” So not only is growth good for business, but it’s also contagious.

Evaluations shouldn’t be “gotcha” moments when they have the potential to be valuable opportunities for growth. Offering employees clear and specific developmental feedback puts appreciation into action and is a far more powerful “thank you” than any surface-level perk.

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Kickstart the Appreciation Season

So you’re on board with this whole gratitude thing. Let’s put it into practice.

First, think about one person you’re thankful for. Maybe they’re a coworker who helps lighten your load, a mentor who encourages you or the janitor who empties the trash can each day.

Next, think about two things you do on a regular basis that you appreciate. The first sip of your morning coffee that makes you feel a bit more human could be one. Your daily routine of listening to a favorite podcast (we recommend this one) might be another. It might simply be the moment you get home from work, change into some comfortable clothes and turn on the tv to watch a game or show. Often, the best things to reflect on are the things that go unnoticed. The invisible ones that make your life easier or give you time back in your day.

Thank you

In the spirit of this post, thank you for reading! We hope you soak up the next couple months in all its chaos and all its calm.

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1 Page 48, Gratitude White Paper:

2 Page 48, Gratitude White Paper:

Elise Ozarowski

Elise is a writer and member of the award-winning content team at Frontline Education. A former member of Frontline’s events team, she is passionate about making connections, whether that be in person at events, online via social media or directly in her writing.