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11 Ways to Show Employee Appreciation This Thanksgiving

We get 365 opportunities every year to show appreciation for the people around us — but let’s be honest, we rarely use them. That’s what makes Thanksgiving special: it’s the one day in the year that’s devoted to gratitude. Missing out on this one opportunity to show employee appreciation would be a shame, so we’ve compiled a list of ideas on how to do that.

Think employee appreciation is overrated? Think again.

If you’re not convinced about using Thanksgiving as an opportunity to show employee appreciation, consider this:

  • Studies show that almost 80% of the people who leave their jobs cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving.
  • If in-office employees feel underappreciated, remote workers have it even worse. According to research firm Gartner, they are twice as likely to receive corrective feedback and half as likely to receive positive feedback as in-office workers.
  • Research shows that recognition is the one thing that most inspires employees to do great work.

Ways to show employee appreciation this Thanksgiving

There are countless ways to show your appreciation this Thanksgiving. Here are 13 for you to choose from.

1. Give employees time off
If possible, give employees time off so they can spend it with their families. Almost no other gift rivals this one for Thanksgiving. 

2. Give thank you cards
Write—as in, by hand—thank-you cards or notes and either leave them at team members’ desks or mail them. Don’t use a boilerplate message—be personal and specific.

Employee reading a thank you card at work
Photo by hello lovely. Source: Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

3. Send a virtual note of appreciation to one team member a day
Set a goal of showing your appreciation to one team member a day. Shoot a quick email or direct message to let them know you appreciate them, and how. Be specific. Provide examples. Make their day.

4. Start a gratitude Slack thread
Gear up for Thanksgiving by starting a Slack thread — or your workplace equivalent — for team members to express their gratitude for the small, silly things. Use Neil Pasricha’s Instagram account for inspiration. Give the author of the most boosted gratitude moment of the week a prize.

5. Show appreciation for team members on social media
Use Thanksgiving as an excuse to highlight team members and what’s awesome about them. Involve them in the process—you’ll want to make sure they approve content, including the photos you use—before posting. 

 6. Create a “gratitude wall”
Set up a “gratitude wall” where team members can stick post-it notes to show their appreciation for one another. Encourage them to provide specific examples of attitudes and actions they are grateful for, e.g. Ana, it was so nice of you to help me figure out what was up with WordPress! Employees can either sign their notes or leave them anonymously for added effect.

7. Commit to investing in social impact
Use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to announce your commitment to making a social impact. Announce a pro bono project, or your plans for charitable giving, donation matching, donation via payroll deduction, dedicated volunteer days and/or a volunteer time off program (VTO) in 2021.

8. Swap recipes
Thanksgiving is also about eating good food. To honor that aspect of Thanksgiving, start a Slack thread—or your workplace equivalent—for recipe swapping a few days prior. Encourage employees to share photos and impressions as they test their Thanksgiving recipes.

9. Have a potluck 
Or go one step further and organize a Thanksgiving potluck, with each team member bringing a homemade dish. Bonus points if they share the story of their dish and bring printed copies of the recipe.

Employees eating at a thanksgiving potluck
Photo by AmandaB3. Source: Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 10. Volunteer as a group
Organize a one-off volunteer day with the team. You can volunteer with local food shelves, schools, or organizations such as Habitat for Humanity

People working toghether on a volunteer day
Photo by vastateparksstaff. Sourse Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

11. Help make those working over Thanksgiving comfortable
Give in-office employees working over Thanksgiving the option of working from home, if possible. If that’s not a viable option, have a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner catered for them.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to show employee appreciation

We could all use a little more appreciation in the workplace. And if there’s a national holiday entirely dedicated to gratitude, why not take advantage of it? Use the opportunity to thank those who make your company successful and who work every day to help it grow. Your employees could be anywhere else—but they’re with you. Don’t take them for granted. Thank them.

How are you showing employees your appreciation this Thanksgiving?

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