The power of gratitude has been well-researched and documented, with the scientific study of its effects beginning over thirty years ago as the field of Positive Psychology. Through Martin Seligman’s work, we found concrete evidence that dwelling in a state of gratitude, optimism, happiness and compassion can increase long-term feelings of well-being and resilience.
You can elicit the power of gratitude right now by simply jotting down five things you’re thankful for. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
“It is impossible to feel grateful and stressed in the same moment.” ~ Naomi Williams
Using this practice each day, you can cultivate positivity whenever you need it, dialing back any stress you might be feeling while turning on some “feel good” hormones.
The bounds of gratitude don’t stop here. You can help elicit these feelings in others, too.
Appreciation at Work
At private companies across the world, much ado has been made about employee recognition. For good reason too. Research has consistently demonstrated a strong return on investment in response to employees being recognized and feeling appreciated. That ROI includes:
- increased daily attendance
- decreased tardiness
- employees following policies and procedures more faithfully
- reduced conflict among staff
- increased productivity (in some work settings)
- higher customer satisfaction ratings
These benefits add up to a cost savings for companies and make them more competitive in the marketplace. In fact, high staff turnover has been shown to be the single greatest nonproductive cost to businesses.
In other words, the companies who recognize their employees, and do it right, retain them.
What Does This Mean For Your PSAP?
The link between work-related stress and overall health and well-being in the 9-1-1 field is being researched and understood today in ways not previously known. Studies by Michelle Lilly, Ph.D., Lt. Michael Goold, Ed.D., and Roberta Troxell, D.P.H. have all demonstrated that more can be done to curtail the impact of PTSD, compassion fatigue and chronic stress on the 9-1-1 telecommunicators who help keep our communities safe.
Troxell’s 2008 doctoral thesis, titled, “Indirect Exposure to the Trauma of Others: The Experiences of 9-1-1 Telecommunicators,” revealed something surprising, and powerful.
The study, a survey of 493 telecommunicators, found that the most commonly named source of stress at the comm center is lack of appreciation from management. And that’s not all.
Out of the top ten sources of stress cited by participants of the study, six are directly related to poor leadership and bad communication.Sources that can be taken out of the equation with a little bit of attention.
How to Effectively Recognize Your Frontline
In 1991, Congress officially recognized the 2nd full week in April as “National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week,” a stride that helped usher the 9-1-1 telecommunicator out of the shadows and into the national spotlight, if only for a week. At PSAPs around the country, this week is dedicated to showering the workforce with gratitude and, sometimes, gifts.
I loved the festive energy of this week! At my comm center, there were daily giveaways, catered meals, and roll call drop-ins by the Deputy Chief of Police, certain Commanders, the Mayor and other dignitaries to thank us for the work we do.
To be sure, this recognition is a huge step in the right direction. For this one week, the “unsung heroes,” as 9-1-1 telecommunicators are so often referred, get to feel like the superheroes they are.
But a one week celebration out of the 52 weeks available is quickly lost in the rear-view mirror. The onslaught of traumatic and life-threatening calls continues unabated.
More recognition is required.
Just like bringing the power of gratitude into your day, you can spread the power of gratitude and recognition to your team, lightening their load and decreasing the stress they feel. What a gift!
This recognition need not cost any money. It doesn’t require a weeklong celebration. It only requires a concerted effort and authentic attention.
When practiced daily, showing appreciation for your frontline employee communicates a sense of value and respect for that person, bringing the same powerful benefits that the research reflects: greater resilience, less stress, more work satisfaction.
Here’s three powerful examples of what other PSAP Directors are doing to show their teams gratitude, daily:
- One Director has started a “Commendation Wall,” where coworkers recognize each other by posting something that they appreciate about another person, whether for a job well done, or some other attribute they enjoy.
- Another Director has instructed his supervisors that for every piece of negative feedback, they are to give at least 3 statements of positive feedback.
- Another Director uses the day’s roll call training (pre-shift meeting), to highlight something amazing that a member of the team has done.
Done as a habit, daily gratitude and recognition impacts the overall culture of the organization, fueling anticipation and fun. Amidst the already challenging work that 9-1-1 telecommunicators do daily, this can provide a much needed break in the clouds.
What will you do today to show your team that you care? Please share below!
About the Author:
Adam Timm is the author of the #1 bestselling book, Stress Is Optional! How to Kick the Habit, and the cofounder of The Healthy Dispatcher, a law enforcement training company that offers stress resilience, communication and leadership classes designed for Emergency Dispatchers.
A 9-1-1 telecommunicator for over a decade, he brings his stories from the frontline into his writings and classes. His second book, Dispatcher Stress: 50 Lessons on Beating the Burnout, is out now.