If someone asked you the No. 1 reason people look for a new job, how would you answer? If you said it’s because they don’t feel appreciated, you would be correct.

Research shows that 64% of job hunters feel unappreciated, and the two biggest reasons for their distress are that they feel overworked and undervalued.

Furthermore, 88% of people say that expressing gratitude makes them feel happier and more fulfilled at work. However, only 10% say they express gratitude on a regular basis, and 60% say they rarely or never express gratitude.

Despite this, studies show that 81% of people say they would work harder for a grateful boss. Studies also show that receiving a thank you from a supervisor boosts productivity 50%.

Clearly, there is a disconnect here. Organizational psychologists cite a lack of gratitude as one the of the biggest factors affecting an organization’s psychological climate. In fact, there’s even a name for this—gratitude deficit disorder.

Studies from the positive psychology movement of the past 20 to 30 years have recognized the importance of gratitude on our mental, emotional, social and physical well-being. For example, we know that grateful people are healthier, happier and more optimistic. They also have better social relationships, greater life satisfaction and take better care of themselves.

In addition, gratitude has been shown to strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure and enable people to feel more joy and pleasure, and less loneliness and isolation.

In short, research confirms that practicing a grateful approach to life improves our social, physical and psychological well-being. And these same benefits are important for a productive and engaged workplace culture.

But what does the research say about practicing a grateful approach in the workplace?

Although these studies are more limited, the results suggest that social and emotional well-being in the workplace lead to reduced stress, fewer sick days and health complaints, as well as improved retention, greater productivity and overall job satisfaction.

Staff turnover is the highest non-productive business cost, and research indicates that complacency and entitlement may cost employers over $2,500 per employee per year.

Clearly, a workplace that practices gratitude and appreciation is good for the bottom line. So, how can organizations create a more grateful workplace? Speakers at the Gratitude and Well-Being at Work Conference offer these recommendations:

  • Acknowledge the whole person. Gratitude values and appreciates people for who they are, not just what they do. (This is different from recognition, which rewards performance and achievement.)
  • Realize one size does not fit all. Not everyone wants to be appreciated the same way. In fact, we all have primary and secondary “appreciation languages” that are meaningful to us. To build a stronger and more effective team, check out the resources at Appreciation at Work and complete the “Motivating by Appreciation Inventory.”
  • Embrace gratitude from the top down and the bottom up. Gratitude can’t be forced and there should be a variety of opportunities and initiative for people to practice it. Also, if a gratitude initiative is imposed by leaders who are not practicing it themselves, it will backfire.
  • Make gratitude part of the culture. To create a more grateful work culture, start with treating employees well and then build on that with programs and consistent practices. For example, you can add a gratitude practice during staff meetings, create opportunities to say thank you and leverage internal communications. For more inspiration and ideas, check out these websites: Greater Good Science Center, Appreciation at Work and Gratitude at Work.

Some people consider the study of gratitude in the workplace as “fluffy” or not serious. But as experience and science now show, feeling valued and appreciated are basic human needs, and the practice of showing gratitude is transformative not only for individuals but also for workplace cultures.

Cultivating a more grateful workplace will pay dividends that go well beyond the bottom line.