Companies With Co-Workers Who Don’t Get Along Should Encourage Gratitude Journaling, Says Study

Researchers suggest employees should take a cue from Jimmy Fallon’s Thank You Notes segment on “The Tonight Show” to improve workplace behavior.

A recent University of Central Florida study suggests employees who keep a gratitude journal exhibit less rude behavior and mistreatment of others in the workplace.

“Gratitude interventions are exercises designed to increase your focus on the positive things in your life. One intervention involves writing down a list of things you are thankful for each day,” says management Professor Shannon Taylor, who teamed up with fellow management Professor Maureen Ambrose and doctoral student Lauren Locklear for the study, published in the leading peer-reviewed journal Applied Psychology.

“That simple action can change your outlook, your approach to work, and the way your co-workers see you.”

Workplace mistreatment can cost organizations millions of dollars each year—because gossip, exclusion or ostracism results in productivity loss, employee turnover, and even can lead to litigation.

“While organizations spend quite a bit of time and money to improve employee behavior, there are not a lot of known tools available to actually make the needed changes,” Locklear said.

“We found the gratitude journal is a simple, inexpensive intervention that can have a significant impact on changing employee behavior for the better.”

For two weeks, study participants spent a few minutes a day jotting down the things, people and events they were grateful for—and as a result, their coworkers reported that they engaged in fewer rude, gossiping, and ostracizing behaviors.

“Gratitude exercises are becoming increasingly popular products to improve employee attitudes and well-being, and our study shows managers can also use them to foster more respectful behavior in their teams,” Taylor says.