Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the things you’re grateful for, including the employees that you depend on. Showing a little gratitude is one of the simplest, but most effective ways to boost office morale and promote a healthy workplace culture.
How we do Thanksgiving
At Digital-Tutors, we would always celebrate Thanksgiving together, just like one big family. Dinner was held on the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving, and employees were encouraged to bring their significant others. We would set up a long row of tables that spanned the entire length of the office atrium. The tables were decorated with tablecloths, fancy candles and other fall decorations that made it look like one gigantic dining room table.
Food is an important part of the Thanksgiving equation. For centuries, in almost every culture on Earth, breaking bread and sharing a meal has been a powerful way for people to bond. These shared bonds help to form a sense of belonging, which is important in any work environment.
When we were a smaller company, we would do a pot-luck meal, where everybody signed up to bring a dish. As the company grew though, it became more logistical to just have all the food and drinks catered. It also meant that people didn’t have to worry about cooking, and could just focus on enjoying themselves for the evening.
Affirmation at Thanksgiving
Toward the end of the evening, we would go around the table, and each person shared what they were thankful for. We never made any kind of rule stating that people needed to express gratitude for something work-related, but almost every person spoke about it anyway. There was usually a tear or two as people shared how genuinely grateful, they were to work at a place where their contributions mattered, and where they mattered as a person. Even spouses and significant others spoke about how grateful they were that their loved ones had such amazing support at work, which translated into happier home-lives.
As we sat together like one big family, all eating, drinking and laughing together, there was an undeniable sense of camaraderie and closeness between every single one of us.
Giving time for a healthy work/life balance
At Digital-Tutors, we had one sale the entire year. It came around Thanksgiving, and yet we were still able to shut down the office for most of the week.
We’d spend the months leading up to Thanksgiving slowly getting ahead on projects to cover closing the office for a week. That’d include getting ready for the sale and building the systems to make sure everything was covered while the office was shut down.
Enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner like one big family is a great way to grow closer together. It’s not a replacement for your employees’ real families, nor should it be. That’s why I like to give my tribe extra time off surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday so they can travel to wherever they need to go. As close-knit as my tribe is, we each have our own families and spending time with them is important.
Tips for celebrating Thanksgiving at your company
Think about one of your core values and how you can integrate it into your Thanksgiving celebration. At my company, one of our core values is “Relationships Matter”, and Thanksgiving is a time for that value to really shine — both inside and outside the office walls.
Employees want to feel a sense of belonging with their leaders and coworkers. They want to be affirmed for their efforts. And they want to feel their work has meaning for the company and the clients they serve.
Learn more about belonging, affirmation and meaning (BAM)
Even if you aren’t able to celebrate a sit-down meal with your employees, you can still capture the spirit of giving thanks. Use the opportunity to express sincere gratitude and appreciation toward your people with a handwritten card or a personalized email.
Sometimes, the best way to give your tribe BAM is to work hard together so they can all enjoy some time off. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to bring some BAM to your office, but it shouldn’t end there. Keep watching my blog for ideas to keep BAM going strong all year long!