Organizational Gratitude: Needed now more than ever

2020 has found the world frustrated, frightened and deeply saddened by loss.  Lives lost. Jobs lost. The months have felt “the same” and never ending.  Initially this may not seem to be the ideal year for filling up one’s gratitude jar or journal. But upon closer inspection, research tells us that organizations and their leaders have every reason to be thankful.



“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

While the origin of this quote is often debated, it is 100% true. Every organization, from small businesses to multi-national global companies create their own cultures. Some do so thoughtfully in how they want employees and customers to experience the culture. Others may be less deliberate about the attention given to it. Either way, organizations create a culture.


When organizations create their culture why would they want gratitude to be part of it? Certainly, individuals both inside and outside their work setting can display acts of gratitude. But organizations? What does it look like?


“Collective gratitude was found to enhance contextual performance, team learning, and high quality connections in organizations (Müceldili et al., 2015). Even more recently, Fehr et al. (2017) developed a multilevel model of gratitude in organizations that includes episodic gratitude at the event level, persistent gratitude at the individual level, and collective gratitude at the organizational level.


These different types of gratitude relate to various outcomes in organizations: episodic gratitude to organizational citizenship, persistent gratitude to well-being and communal exchange, and collective gratitude to organizational resilience and corporate social responsibility (Fehr et al., 2017).


According to this model, organizations interested in maintaining an optimal level of performance and organizational well-being should ask how they might cultivate and stimulate acts of gratitude in their members. Studies that address training methods to enhance gratitude highlight the benefits of training and suggest integrating it into leadership and management training programs (Shelton, 2000Emmons, 2003Fehr et al., 2017).”[1]


Sarah Kaplan noted, in her August 2020 article, that companies often required ROI (return on investment) to determine if Corporate Social Responsibility was important. I would challenge us all to consider a different ROI (Realize Opportunities Invested). “Companies often view CSR as a set of charitable activities. They may support the arts, cancer research, and other deserving causes. But a more useful approach to social responsibility is one in which leaders account for the varied interests of the diverse stakeholders that surround the corporation — all the groups that influence and are influenced by its operations.”[2]



Share how your organization expresses gratitude

There are many ways to express gratitude as an organization. How are you cultivating it in your leaders and your organization?


  • Organizational citizenship (volunteering, giving back)
  • Well-being and communal exchange (empathy, concern for other’s welfare)
  • Organizational resilience and corporate social responsibility (diverse stakeholders)


We would love to hear your stories of organizational gratitude at Coaching Right Now.







About the Author:

Heidi joined Coaching Right Now in 2016 as an Account Executive. Heidi brings over 25 years of experience leading learning and shared services teams in large financial and manufacturing organizations. She is also a certified executive and leadership Coach (CPCC, ACC).