Embracing Corporate Gratitude Plans: A Shift in Perspective for a Healthier Society
“If you don’t like what is being said, change the conversation.” Don Draper, MadMen
In today’s fast-paced corporate world, we often chase materialistic goals, losing sight of the essential values that should govern our lives. We focus on cash compensation, vacation time, and bonuses. Today, things are changing, and the old ways of looking at things are leaving us. It is time to change how we look and speak about things we have never considered changing. The best place to start is employee benefit plans.
One subtle but significant aspect of this phenomenon is in the name “employee benefit plans.” Simply put, employee benefit plans are the health, dental, and life insurance employers offer their employees. This essay explores the idea of renaming these programs from “benefit plans” to “gratitude plans.” Let’s explore why such a change would be beneficial for our society.
A Brief Economic History of Employee Benefit Plans
The average age of an American worker today is 38 years old. The same 38-year-old employee has been trained to change jobs once every three years. This is a monumental shift from prior generations, where you worked for the same organization for your entire career. The shift began about 25 years ago, and universities have begun teaching students to expect “ten, three-year careers.” No data supports whether this is a good or bad economic situation. Still, it does lend to competitive advantages amongst those constantly seeking to improve. We are also in a situation where that same 38-year-old employee has never been in a situation where they did not have access to employee benefit plans and 401k’s. Health Insurance began its corporate development after WWII (1947) and has continued to become part of employee compensation plans today. From the beginning, it was designed to be a gift to their employees for their dedication and work from employers.
The current workforce generation has become numb to the “gift” employers give them, and it’s become a sense of entitlement. I dare say they rarely, if ever, say “thank you.” Our goal is to help reverse this trend and remind employees that their benefits plan is a gift from their employer and deserves their attention. The gift is centered around the need for the employer to hire the most competitive workers. Still, most importantly, like any gift, benefit plans convey a sense of gratitude for what that person or employee has done in the lives of those affected.
The Power of Words
Words have a profound impact on our perceptions and behaviors. The term “employee benefit plan” now conveys a sense of entitlement, focusing on what one is owed or eligible to receive. In contrast, a change to the term “employee gratitude plans” will emphasize appreciation, fostering a sense of thankfulness for the opportunities provided. This simple change in terminology can profoundly influence how individual employees approach these programs and how they perceive the support they receive from their employers.
Promoting a Culture of Gratitude
Renaming benefit plans as “gratitude plans” can be pivotal in promoting a culture of gratefulness within organizations. Gratitude is a powerful emotion linked to increased happiness, improved mental health, and enhanced overall well-being. When employees perceive their workplace benefits as expressions of gratitude rather than entitlements, it can lead to a more positive and harmonious work environment. This shift in perspective can also encourage employees to reciprocate with increased dedication and commitment to their work.
Fostering a Sense of Reciprocity
The term “gratitude plans” implies a sense of reciprocity, encouraging employees to give back to their employers and colleagues. When individuals feel appreciated by being seen, heard, understood, and valued, they are likelier to engage in pro-social behaviors and contribute positively to the workplace community. This reciprocity can manifest in various forms, such as increased teamwork, higher job satisfaction, and greater organizational loyalty. By renaming benefit plans to gratitude plans, we create a platform for a virtuous cycle of giving and receiving.
Highlighting the Human Aspect
In today’s digital age, it is easy to become detached from the human aspect of our interactions. The term “benefit plans” can contribute to this sense of impersonality, reducing the human element to a mere transaction. In contrast, “gratitude plans” humanize the relationship between employer and employee, reminding us that behind every policy and program are individuals who care about the well-being of their colleagues. This shift in language encourages empathy and connection, reminding us of the importance of the people behind the benefits.
Reshaping Employee Expectations
The terminology used to describe workplace benefits can significantly impact employee expectations. Employees who view these programs as benefits may expect more and become disillusioned if their expectations are unmet. On the other hand, framing them as gratitude plans shifts the focus away from entitlement and towards appreciation for what is offered. This change can help manage expectations and create a more realistic perspective on the support provided by employers.
The renaming of “benefit plans” to “gratitude plans” represents a subtle but meaningful shift in perspective that can have far-reaching benefits for our society. By emphasizing gratitude, we promote a culture of appreciation, reciprocity, and empathy within organizations. This change fosters positive workplace environments and encourages individuals to focus on the human aspect of their interactions and manage their expectations more realistically. Ultimately, embracing gratitude plans can contribute to a healthier and more harmonious society, where individuals appreciate the value of what they have and the people who support them.
If you want to know more, please reach out. I would love to continue the conversation.
This article is designed to reveal the findings of my newest academic study: Here Come the Girls. It is a doctoral paper set to be published next month. The commercial book will be released this spring.