For several years I owned an advertising agency in Southern California. At the end of each year, along with the annual holiday outing, we began a tradition that I still believe is one that can end the year—and begin the new one—on a high note.
Recognizing that the employee/employer relationship is fraught with tension and discord at times (40% of employees say they “hate” their boss), we began drilling down on what the relationship was truly about. And then expressing gratitude for all the good things that came about during the year because of it.
Every staff member would write down what having the job meant to them. And every supervisor (in this case it was just me) would do the same. And no matter how we felt about a colleague or boss, we also wrote wrote down three things each of us was grateful for about that person.
We got very specific about it.
Here’s an example. One of our staff members, Judy, wrote that having the job enabled her to grow as a graphic designer. She was able to afford classes in advanced Photoshop. She was grateful that we supported her with the most advanced equipment and software. She enjoyed the collegial environment that made going to work a pleasure.
The salary enabled her to live in a nice apartment, buy a new car, take a vacation to Puerto Vallarta, dine out at her favorite restaurants, pay for the two crowns on her teeth, eat healthy food, buy fashionable clothing, and donate her time and money to the local food bank, her preferred charitable activity. For all this and more she was grateful for the job.
Dave said he was grateful that his first job out of college was one that helped him learn and grow in his career. He liked the energy and humor that permeated the office even during stressful, deadline-driven times. He appreciated that we took the time to help teach him about advertising, take him to industry events, and let him sit in on our conferences and meetings.
The job enabled him to find a great studio apartment in Santa Monica, make his car payments, go out for drinks and dinner with his new friends, visit his mother in Milwaukee, go to several Dodger games, and buy his first real suit, among other benefits of having a good regular income.
I was grateful to have a staff I enjoyed being with every day, who worked long hours without question (often giving up their personal time), and helped our little agency do great work and grow.
I expressed my gratitude that the profits from my business paid our mortgage and many new furnishings for my home, allowed us to eat healthy food, drive new cars, take a vacation to Hawaii, afford healthcare, and pay the costs of running a business. Because we had a profitable year I pointed out that I was able to treat my parents to an anniversary trip they had always dreamed of taking to Europe.
We then each (after careful consideration) told each other person something that was positive about them we were grateful for. I told everyone I appreciated how smoothly our office—staffed with very different personalities—worked without gossip, backstabbing or arguments.
Ann told Judy how grateful she was for taking her under her wing, teaching her daily something new and valuable to her career.
Dave told Ann how grateful he was for her continual support, her creative spirit, and that she frequently invited him out for drinks with the other ad folks.
And so on.
By linking the tangible results that a good job or a profitable business generated, and acknowledging the contributions of the people who helped make it happen, we were able to show everyone how important they were to everyone else’s life. By expressing gratitude to each other we strengthened the bonds that made our business a happy and productive place to be.
Everyone liked doing this and one of the staff suggested we express our gratitude to our clients in much the same way. After all, they were the reason we had a business at all…and our jobs. So we did this, and the clients loved it. One said it made a big difference to know that her money not only bought advertising which helped her business succeed (and support many jobs) but that she also made a real difference in our lives.
Ideally, we are all in a great circle of life, working together toward the goals that make us happy and fulfilled. Nothing much happens without the support and involvement of other people. And all of us can recall how a person has changed our life. Gratitude for these blessings seems to the fertile ground that creates an environment for even more good things in life.
Gratitude has been shown to be good for the soul, and with tangible benefits realized in a myriad of ways. Along with positive expectation, gratitude is the catalyst for manifestation. And everyone would like to manifest more of their dreams in life.
At the end of a tough year for many people, it’s important to be mindful and reflect upon all the good that having a job or a business (and employees and clients) can bring to our lives. And be grateful.