The attitude of gratitude

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During the holiday season many people took a few extra moments to focus on the things in life they are most grateful for. At St. Joseph’s Health Care London (St. Joseph’s) discovering ways to show gratitude to one another is a year-round endeavor.

“We hear very positive feedback from the staff at St. Joseph’s when we run a gratitude initiative. In a busy health care setting it is a great reminder to express our appreciation to colleagues,” says Cathy Parsons, nursing practice consultant at St. Joseph’s. “When we plan something creative it gives people a chance to recognize others in a special way. The fun helps relieve stress while also boosting staff morale.”

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St. Joseph’s Quality Workplace Committee (QWC) contributes to the organization’s overall capacity to create a healthy workplace and is accountable for establishing effective organization wide strategies. It is also responsible for looking at the results of staff surveys and responding to survey feedback. “The committee meets its mandate by identifying, recommending and adopting healthy workplace practices that are guided by employee ideas and responses,” says Wendy Reed, director, Occupational Health and Infection Control. “Many of the ideas that spring from this group are intended to help support staff response to change and initiatives are created to help address issues and bridge gaps.”

The group’s aim is to create and sustain a working environment that inspires employees’ growth, builds on their strengths, and fosters collaborative relationships which can promote a resilient and engaged workforce committed to care and service, making a difference in the lives of others.

“One of the many benefits to expressing gratitude consistently and freely is that it fosters an environment where people experience a greater sense of purpose,” says Susan Greig, professional practice leader at St. Joseph’s. “It is a visible demonstration of how we can all make a difference and the benefits are far-reaching. Research in the field shows practicing gratitude can increase work satisfaction and happiness in general, strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, aid with sleep, build relationships and more.”

Some of the novel ways to express gratitude offered to staff and physicians at St. Joseph’s have included flowers of gratitude where flowers were pre-purchased by individuals and delivered by volunteers to recipients. More than 640 flowers were handed out across the organization. In the spring, over 350 packets of seeds for the sowing seeds of gratitude initiative were hand delivered with cards to happy recipients.

This fall staff, volunteers, patients and visitors filled gratitude walls with heart-felt thoughts of appreciation and thanks. The messages on the walls were profound and reflective of the very different areas of care in the St. Joseph’s family of sites. Some of the captions included, I am grateful for… my four replanted fingers; my father’s service for our country; a job I love; my vision; hope; being able to walk.

Throughout the year a gratitude blog and e-cards of thanks are also available to staff.

As it is with expressing gratitude, kind words and inspiration are contagious; the QWC has been enthused by the grateful words of others and are encouraged to design future activities that realize the vision for gratitude across the organization.

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