sun hands

sun handsRecently en route to deliver an inspirational and educational keynote for a client on the future direction of HR, I was musing upon what I could additionally bring to life from reflection on my mother’s recent passing that would benefit this group’s mindset and focus to increase employee engagement, performance, and retention.

A memory flashed of a visible sense of surprise and a lightening of demeanor in others to my response from their offers of condolences at my mother’s memorial service.  While people were dutifully paying their respect, their expectation was a sadness-filled response for which they had likely steeled themselves.  Yet, what they heard back from me was positivity.  “Thank you.  I am truly only filled with gratitude for the exceptional parents I had for so many years of my life.”  Interesting…

I then contrasted this experience to twenty years ago when I tragically lost my husband.  Focused on my significant loss and barely able to hold myself together rather than embracing the blessing of having such a great love in my life, many people found it hard to support me through my grief.  Yikes!  An epiphany.  That said, I have been extraordinarily grateful and devoted to supporting those who stood by my side through the worst time of my life.

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”  Albert Schweitzer

Link of Gratitude with Resilience and Employee Engagement

Resilience and employee engagement studies consistently tell us that what matters to employees includes:

  • Trust of, and being well informed by, leaders;
  • Having a passion for mission and common values;
  • Feeling connected, included, heard, valued, sense of making a difference; and
  • Being developed and rewarded equitably.


With high stress levels in most lives, creating an oasis where individuals can engage and recharge matters more than we all most likely know.  And, becoming proficient in gratitude takes practice, especially for those of us who can tend to be tough critics.  Individuals who routinely express negative/tough or despondent attitudes tend to push others away or continue to dampen others’ abilities to elevate their spirit or success.  Conversely, those who choose to manifest gratitude:

  • Feel more fulfilled and happy in their life;
  • Utilize gratitude as a leadership tool to communicate and validate employee connection to the mission and the team;
  • Demonstrate and express heartfelt statements of gratitude to ensure that those who have meaningfully contributed to a team effort feel appreciated;
  • Attract and help elevate the positive energy of others to result in heightened collaboration, teamwork, engagement, retention, and performance; and
  • Understand that when it’s their turn to go through a tough time and still find a way to see and share the good around them, that their people will much more likely rally to their side.


Focusing on one thing that you are grateful for increases the energy of gratitude and rises the joy inside yourself,” Oprah Winfrey

From DEIB expertise, we know that all of us have unique ‘filters’ created by life experience – both positive and negative.  In many cases, these filters then develop our unconscious biases.  To enhance our leadership efficacy, we need to grasp what our personal filters are, examine how they came to be, and assess the degree to which they positively and negatively serve us today.

Organizational cultures continue to evolve and complex change continues to escalate.  To ‘win’ we will need to reap the power of gratitude, employee engagement, teamwork, collaboration, and continual learning.  To be effective, we’ll need to consciously step back from our ingrained filters and step into the perspectives of others by which to experience new ‘aha’ moments that enhance our success while appreciating the wisdom, talents, and efforts contributed by members of our teams.

How to Infuse Ourselves with Gratitude

  • Express our gratitude to others.
  • Make time to spend with those we treasure.
  • Take time to do something we love or that makes us feel special.
  • Begin and end every day by recounting 3-4 things for which we are grateful.


How to Meaningfully Express Gratitude to Others


  • Note and remember to include positive impact during performance conversations… even when stated previously.
  • Pay attention to what is important to each employee and support their interests and needs when possible.
  • Identify a meaningful development opportunity and provide needed resources for an individual on your staff.
  • Pay it forward by doing something positive for others in the memory/spirit of someone else or your community.


  • ‘I want to make sure you know how grateful I am for your _______’
  • ‘Thank you for ______. It’s impact of _______ enabled ________.’
  • ‘I can’t tell you how much it means for us/our team that you _______’
  • ‘I’m honored to have you on our team. You continually prove that _______.’


For additional insight or support on this topic, please contact us. We’re grateful for our own experiences that validate these practices and to be able to support you.

by Regan MacBain Traub