Thanksgiving at work: 9 ways to show employees you care
By: Jennie Overton
Thanksgiving is the one day a year that is all about gratitude. Gratitude at work is a powerful way to show your employees that you not only appreciate their hard work and recognize their accomplishments, but you also care about them as a person. And we know that when employees feel their employer cares about their well-being, they’re 38 percent more engaged. Below are nine ways to celebrate Thanksgiving at work while showing care to employees.
9 Thanksgiving employee appreciation ideas:
1. Offer both Wednesday and Friday as paid holidays
There is always so much to do the day before Thanksgiving. Why not give employees an extra day off, or even just a half day so that they can start enjoying the holiday a bit early and focus on their well-being? Although most companies now provide the Friday after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday, it’s just another way of saying “thank you.” With both Wednesday and Friday as official company holidays or “well-being days,” the hope is that employees can recharge and reconnect to what’s most important to them.
2. Encourage volunteer time
Did you know people who volunteer live longer? Studies also show that volunteering lowers depression levels, stress levels and the risk for heart disease. At Limeade, we have one paid volunteer day a year for employees to use. Employees can choose to volunteer for their own specific cause or work with our People Team to coordinate a corporate volunteer event. As the national month of gratitude, November is the perfect time to encourage volunteering.
3. Host a gratitude workshop
Hire a guest speaker to lead a gratitude workshop. Not only is November National Gratitude Month, a Limeade Institute study revealed that employees having high levels of gratitude and mindfulness strongly correlated to having high levels of well-being, engagement and productivity and low levels of stress at work. Head over to the Gratitude Speakers Bureau to find a guest speaker for your team.
4. Have a Thanksgiving recipe contest
Over the next few weeks, invite your employees to share healthy renditions of their favorite Thanksgiving recipes and vote on the best. Take this up a notch by hosting a potluck featuring the winning recipes before the holiday. And as we also commemorate Native American Heritage Month, encourage employees to share recipes that are made from indigenous foods.
5. Organize a flag football game
This one is semi-weather dependent, but, if possible, send your employees outside for some flag football! Find a park nearby and take it over for the morning or afternoon. Studies show getting outside is linked to improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being. Don’t forget to bring the flags and be sure to supply hot apple cider.
6. Coordinate a turkey trot
Most cities across the U.S. have a Turkey Trot 5K that benefits a cause somewhere nearby. Incentivize your employees to get up early and break a sweat for charity before the feasting begins by offering points in your wellness program for participating. Encourage your employees to form a team by offering to match the cost of registration and enjoy some great representation and positive brand awareness out on the course.
7. Create a “thank you” wall
Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks, right? Set up a page where everyone can share what they are grateful for. Managers and employees can even share who they are thankful for at work. Studies have shown that the act of expressing gratitude triggers a feel-good reaction in our brains that boosts happiness and strengthens our immune system. If you need even more of a reason to start giving thanks at work, consider this: employee recognition delivers a clear ROI on metrics including employee productivity and engagement. Companies with a recognition program in place enjoy on average a 22 percent lower turnover rate than companies that do not.
8. Learn about Native American Heritage Month
November is also Native American Heritage Month and learning about the historical context of this holiday with your team provides an opportunity to celebrate various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, while also accomplishing your DEI goals. There are 5.2 million American Indians and Alaskan Natives in the U.S. and it’s possible your team has employees with Native heritage. Encourage your employees to dig deeper into Native American history, culture, and disparities this Thanksgiving.
9. Hold an Employee Appreciation Day
Although Employee Appreciation Day is officially in March, many companies have employee appreciation events at different times of the year. Make one day this month a staff appreciation day where you offer chair massages, spa water, free lunch, special gifts, etc. Check out our tip sheet for ways you can show appreciation for your employees.
Thanksgiving at work is all about gratitude and togetherness, two factors that help create a positive environment and show employees you care. Trying any one of these employee appreciation ideas at work encourages everyone to practice gratitude and show appreciation to team members. Plus, it’s a great time to come together before the hectic holiday season.