Thank You Thursdays in Richfield

Richfield's municipal building in the fall, with early morning light

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” on a personal level, but did you know research shows it can also reap rewards in the workplace? In a 2012 study by the American Psychological Association, researchers found that of employees who reported feeling valued 93% also said that they are “motivated to do their best at work” and 88% reported “feeling engaged.”

In the 2020 book “Leading with Gratitude,” authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton echo the impact of gratitude on employee performance. “Workers want and need to know their work is appreciated. Showing gratitude to employees is the easiest, fastest, most inexpensive way to boost performance.”

Richfield City Manager Katie Rodriguez and has taken this wisdom and implemented it through “Thank You Thursdays.” This initiative costs nothing with only minimal staff time and cultivates a powerful attitude of gratitude and recognition within their workplaces.

Rodriguez started her “Thank You Thursdays” in July 2020 in response to a time when the city asked a lot of staff due to the pandemic and civil unrest.

Rodriguez says it is one of the most popular initiatives she has implemented since she was hired as Richfield’s city manager in 2019. About 90% of the thank-you’s given in Richfield reflect appreciation expressed by residents, and the remainder are provided by the Richfield City Council, coworkers, and the city manager. While many of the thank-you’s are given in appreciation of great work done by staff, thank-you’s are also given to council for their hard work.

Gratitude is not only polite but can be extremely powerful, as highlighted again and again in residents’ stories. For example, following George Floyd’s death, a resident reached out to the city to share heartfelt appreciation for an officer’s time and care. The resident described how their son had attended a protest and was struggling with his anger over George Floyd’s death. The responding Richfield officer diffused the situation and connected with the young man in such a powerfully positive way that it compelled the resident to contact the city and thank the officer for their kindness. Similar staff kindness has been on display in response to other heart-wrenching life events like drug overdoses.

On average, Rodriguez estimates it takes staff 30 minutes to an hour each week to compile, redact any protected resident information, and respond. The city manager’s Thank You Thursdays are also sometimes reported out at council meetings.