Successful Team Communication

Fostering a Culture of Gratitude

In reports issued from Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Business Insider, the most frequent cause of employee dissatisfaction and subsequent resignation is a lack of recognition and gratitude. Turnover is a management problem with many subtle yet far-reaching costs – lost production, training expenses, recruitment costs, compromised patient experiences, and uncertainty that a new hire will work out.

Demonstrating gratitude in the office could be the simplest yet most effective way to not only enhance productivity but boost morale and promote a healthy culture. Never underestimate the power of a “thank you” or a “great job” comment.

A simple “thank you” doesn’t cost a dime, and it has a measurable impact. In a series of four experiments, psychologists Adam Grant and Francesca Gino found that “thank you” from a supervisor gave people a strong sense of self-worth and self-efficacy. The study also revealed the expression of gratitude has a spillover effect: individuals become more trusting with each other and more likely to help each other out.


Here are four tips for fostering gratitude in your practice:

  1. Start at the top. Those in leadership need to model consistent words of gratitude. It improves morale and increases trust and teamwork.
  2. Thank employees for those tasks that typically are not associated with “thanks” from patients or management. For example, an assistant taking a precise impression or a hygienist providing exemplary preventative or periodontal care, or a front office member quickly filling a last-minute cancellation.
  3. Aim for quality, not quantity. For more impact, it’s best to reference the specific action that led to the compliment. While “you’re great” is nice, it doesn’t reflect a genuine appreciation and awareness of what a person does. You’ll want to encourage the behavior you want to see continued.
  4. Provide opportunities for gratitude. When people are thanked for their work, they are more likely to increase their helping behavior and provide help to others. Ask your team members how they want to be recognized (publicly or privately, verbally or in writing) – and then act on it.


Thanking employees increases productivity, improves well-being, builds resiliency and a sense of camaraderie, and ultimately – gratitude is contagious.


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