Expressing Gratitude at Work

By Mark D. Roberts

March 14, 2018

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Ephesians 1:15-16


How often do you hear “Thank you” from your colleagues at work? From your boss? From your subordinates? How often do you say “Thank you” to your colleagues? To your boss? Or to those you supervise?

THANK YOU spelled out in blocks.Paul’s example in Ephesians 1:15-16 can inspire us to share our gratitude for others with them. In this passage, the Apostle Paul tells the recipients of his letter that he thanks God for them. He doesn’t just thank God. He shares his gratitude with those for whom he is thankful.

Shouldn’t we imitate Paul’s example in our workplaces? Shouldn’t we share our thanks with others?

Given the behavior of so many managers and workers in today’s world, some would answer “no” to these questions. A few years ago, a survey by the John Templeton Foundation found that “People are less likely to express gratitude at work than anyplace else.” For example, 74% of people never express thanks to their boss; and many bosses return the favor.

Yet, we yearn to be appreciated at work. Bernice Ledbetter, a professor of management at Pepperdine University (and one of the founding leaders of the De Pree Center) writes, “I speak often with women and men in many different industries and work contexts, and a common theme among employees is the desire to be appreciated… Gratitude is the simplest, most powerful way to acknowledge another person’s value and humanity.” In fact, in the Templeton survey mentioned above, 70% of workers said they’d feel better about themselves if their boss were more grateful, and 81% said they’d work hard for such a boss. Gratitude can actually increase productivity at work.

If you’re going to express gratitude in your workplace, be sure to mean what you say. Be specific as well as honest. (You might want to check out this article from the Harvard Business Review: “How to Give a Meaningful ‘Thank You.’”) When someone helps you, encourages you, lightens your load, does excellent work for you, or treats you with kindness, say, “Thank you for…” Develop the habit of feeling grateful and sharing it with others. It will encourage your colleagues. It will add joy to your life. And it may even lead to greater results in your workplace.

Something to Think About:

To what extent is gratitude a regular element of your experience at work?

Do you hear people thank you for your work?

Do you regularly thank others for their work?

What helps you to feel and communicate gratitude to others?

Something to Do:

Set aside some time to think about those with whom you work. Write down things they have done for which you are thankful. Then be sure to tell them “thanks” within the next few days. Pay attention to the responses you get and to how you feel when you do this.


Gracious God, you have filled my work life with wonderful people. Thank you for those who have been my partners, supporters, and bosses. Thank you for the people I’m blessed to work with these days.

Help me, I pray, to appreciate the work of my colleagues and to let them know of my gratitude. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Positive Gratitude, Philippians 1 (Sermon Notes)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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