Something as simple a ‘thank you’ before you coworker performs a task for you can reduce their stress levels and increase their performance, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), found that the simple phrase can generate the biological response to gratitude which helps a person better manage stress and helps them perform better on high pressure tasks.
It can even have a drastic effect on a person’s long-term health, as managing stress day-to-day leads to reduced risk of cardiovascular and potential cognitive issues.
Expressing gratitude also helps relationship building between a pair, which has an increased positive health impact.
Quick shows of gratitude, like saying thank you to someone, in the workplace can lead to them having better stress responses – meaning they are happier and usually more productive, a new study finds
Researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, recruited 200 participants to compete in an experiment based on the televisions how ‘Shark Tank’.
They would be paired with another person who they already knew in order to mimic the familiar nature someone may have with a coworker.
Each group was given a limited amount of time to develop a transportation product that could be used on campus – a task described as ‘impossible’ on purpose to generate a stress response.
Number of Americans quitting their jobs remains near all-time high
The number of Americans quitting their jobs remains near an all-time high as plentiful opportunities entice workers to seek out better pay and working conditions, new data show.
In April, 4.4 million US workers voluntarily quit their jobs, a slight decline from the record high of 4.5 million set in March, according to a report on Wednesday from the Labor Department.
Job openings dropped by 455,000 to 11.4 million in April from the prior month, but remained well above the total number of unemployed jobseekers in the country.
With workers scarce, employers were reluctant to let go of staff, and layoffs and discharges dropped to a record low of 1.2 million, according to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) report.
The latest data suggest that with demand for workers still white-hot, employers could continue to raise wages and help keep inflation uncomfortably high.
‘The experiment is designed to create a maximally stressful environment so we can gauge how gratitude shapes stress response during teamwork because most people spend a third or more of their daily lives at work,’ Dr Christopher Oveis, an economics professor at UCSD who led the study, said in a statement.
Some of the groups were told before hand to regularly express gratitude to the student they were paired up with, and all wore electrodes and blood pressure cuffs that tracked heart activity.
Researchers found that, even in a high stress environment, a quick show of gratitude can help regulate stress responses enough to improve a person’s performance on a task.
‘In a high-stakes, motivated performance task, people can react in one of two ways at a biological level,’ Oveis explained.
‘Some people really rise to the challenge and have an efficient cardiovascular response known as a challenge response: The heart pumps out more blood, the vasculature dilates, blood gets to the periphery, oxygenated blood gets to the brain and cognition fires on all cylinders.
‘But other people don’t fare as well and instead have a threat response: The heart pumps out less blood, the vasculature constricts, blood flow to periphery is reduced and performance goes down.’
The research team noted that when the pairs were working together, many participants showed a threat response of a decreased blood flow and vascular constriction – when vessels narrow and restrict the flow of blood.
Threat responses would vanish when a person was shown gratitude, though, a sign that they were more open and easier to collaborate with.
‘Gratitude expressions within work environments may be key to managing our day-to-day stress responses as well optimizing our how we respond during high-pressure performance tasks like product pitches, so that we can make our stress responses fuel performance instead of harm it,’ said Oveis.
‘But at their core, gratitude expressions play a fundamental role in strengthening our relationships at work.’
Workplace stress can be a major negative factor for both employers and employees, and solving it can be beneficial to both sides.
Studies find that more positive workplaces are generally more productive than their more cut-throat peers.
The Harvard Business Review also reports that health care expenditures at these companies are also 50 percent higher, signaling that it is not only expensive to have a toxic workplace, but also that it is legitimately damaging to a person’s health.
Stress has been deemed responsible for around 80 percent of doctor visits in the U.S., according to the same report.