Recently, I shared the results of a research effort with the VIA Institute, that illuminate the Character Strengths of four different groups in the work place today – Millennials, X Generation members, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. While the generations shared a whopping 3 of 5 signature strengths in common, each group had one strength that was unique to their generation.
What makes Baby Boomers unique?
They were the only generation to have “gratitude” as a signature strength. Possessing the character strength of gratitude means that individuals feel thankful, blessed and show appreciation. While we know that the opportunity to use our strengths, whatever they might be, can transform work life from a drudgery to a calling (Ruchs, 2012) each of the 24 strengths offers particular gifts on their own.
But why might gratitude matter at work?
According to the 2014 Conference Board’s “Employment Satisfaction Survey” just 48% of the workers they interviewed were happy with their jobs. (Incidentally, the last time the majority of Americans were happy at work was in 2005). There are many variables that contribute to this disappointing fact, but exercising the strength of gratitude can shift how employees experience work and how effective they are in their roles. With gratitude employees can become:
- Creative: Research repeatedly indicates that individuals who regularly practice gratitude are happier and happy people are more creative and better problem solvers according to the research of Barbara Fredrickson at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
- Connected: An essential element in an individual’s satisfaction at work is the strength of her relationships with colleagues. According to a 2003 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, cultivating and expressing gratitude can boost pro-social behaviors, thereby supporting healthy relationships.
- Healthier: People who regularly express and experience gratitude have 10% fewer stress-related illnesses, are more physically fit, and have lower blood pleasure according to research from the John Templeton Foundation.
Experiencing and expressing gratitude can be transformative. The great news is that there is something to appreciate in all the generations. More on that in future posts!