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Three Keys to Implementing Gratitude in the Lab

Three Keys to Implementing Gratitude in the Lab

Most people neither experience nor practice gratitude at work—here’s why they should

Scott D. Hanton, PhD

Scott Hanton is the editorial director of Lab Manager. He spent 30 years as a research chemist, lab manager, and business leader at Air Products and Intertek. He earned...

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In this holiday season, we are more likely to be thinking about giving and caring for others in our personal lives. What about around the lab? As Chris Murchison says in his presentation, “Cultivating Gratitude in the Workplace,”1 “gratitude is a core practice of being human.” However, most people neither experience nor practice gratitude at work. As lab managers, we want to bring out the very best in our employees. Part of enabling lab staff to reach their potential is showing gratitude for their hard work, ideas, and accomplishments. Increasing the degree of gratitude shown in the lab brings many benefits, including increased trust, better working relationships, and improved communication.

Increasing gratitude in the lab isn’t that difficult. It takes a little time, a genuine caring for your staff, and a desire to communicate about positive things in the lab. Here are three tips that will help you increase the gratitude shown in your lab.

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1. Thank-yous

There is a reason parents and kindergarten teachers emphasize saying please and thank you. Saying please and thank you on a regular basis makes a big difference around the lab. These simple words convey big messages to staff about your respect and appreciation for them. Thank-yous can be simply stated face-to-face, left in little notes for coworkers, or shown in microaffirmations—small acts of kindness—to support them.

2. Gratitude jar

A gratitude jar is a receptacle that you can place centrally in your lab with a pen and paper nearby. Encourage staff to write little thank-yous and notes of appreciation for their coworkers and place them in the jar. In lab meetings, read the notes from the jar so everyone can hear them. It is remarkable how a little public appreciation can make someone’s day. It’s also amazing how much you will learn about how your staff are consistently helping each other with things that you may not know.

3. Gratitude journal

If you’d like to take gratitude to the next level, start a gratitude journal. Develop a practice of writing at least three things for which you are thankful each day. These don’t need to be anything complicated, but the practice of looking for things for which to be thankful will tune your gratitude sense. Despite the daily challenges of lab management, there are still many things to be thankful for. This practice will help you to find and appreciate them. In the end, as Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Thanks for reading. I hope you can use this information. I am very interested in hearing from you. If you have feedback or comments on this set of tips, or suggestions for future Manager Minutes, I’d love to hear from you. Please reach out to me at I’m looking forward to our conversations.