As Thanksgiving approaches, it reminds me to be thankful - thankful for my business, thankful for my customers and, above all, thankful for my employees (without whom I wouldn't have either).
But, it can be easy to take them for granted and before you know it, they've moved jobs or walked out of the door. That's why I try to take time out every Thanksgiving to give thanks to my team and show them some appreciation.
Here are 10 ways you can give thanks to your team this Thanksgiving...
1. Sponsor a potluck
Everyone loves a lunchtime 'potluck' (a meal where everyone brings a dish) and Thanksgiving is the perfect excuse to host one at the workplace. Provide the turkey or ham and let the employees bring their favorite side dish or dessert. You could even treat it as your group's own 'Thanksgiving dinner,' complete with decorations if you can stretch it.
2. Organize a team outing
Although the end of the year can be a busy time, it's also important to let your team take a break and what better way to do this than a team outing. Now, I'm not talking helicopter rides or weekends away, but something simple that doesn't cost the earth - like a trip to the zoo or local museum - could be a great chance to get out of the workplace and do something a little different.
3. Coordinate a 'turkey trot'
In other words, organize a physical event like a walk or light run to help everyone burn off a few holiday calories. The key here is to make it casual and fun - so something like a 45-minute fun run at lunch-time or an after-hours walk for your team would work well. If you're able, provide participants with a light meal or refreshments afterwards as an extra incentive to reach that finish line! Oh, and make sure the event's not mandatory - it won't be for everyone.
4. Say thank you
It might sound obvious, but sometimes it's easy to forget to say 'thank you' - especially at the workplace. I've found a really effective way to do this is to give each of my employees a hand-written Thanksgiving card, personalized with a line that tells them I'm thankful for them and why. The more specific you can be, the better - no copy and paste allowed!
5. Encourage healthy holiday eating
We all know how easy it can be to over-indulge at this time of year, so why not provide each employee with a small fruit basket to enjoy during the holidays. Or, if that doesn't fit your budget, bring in a large box (a cornucopia!) of mixed fruit and nuts to share with your employees.
6. Let them leave early
If you're able, allow your employees to leave one or two hours early before the Thanksgiving holiday. Many are preparing to cook and entertain their families or friends and would relish a little more time to prepare (not to mention beat the holiday traffic).
7. Sponsor a donation drive
The week before Thanksgiving, choose a local charity to contribute to. Have a large jar where your team can drop in their loose change or donations and then donate the money collected to the charity the following week. Or, if you want to spread out the holiday giving a little longer, kick it off at Thanksgiving and have it end in mid-December. If you can swing it, match their total donation - I've found it's a great way to encourage employees to take part.
8. Throw a party
Holiday parties don't have to be exclusive to December. Why not organize a team party or get together in a local restaurant or bar and provide light hors d'oeuvres for your employees to enjoy as they socialize. It can be a great way for them to let their hair down after a busy year and get into the festive spirit!
9. Recognize hard work
During your next team meeting, make sure you recognize individual employees for their efforts and hard work throughout the year. You could event present a certificate and a small gift card to show your appreciation. And, don't forget to make it a surprise for the employee being recognized - it will be certain to add a level of excitement and engagement to your meeting.
10. And, relax!
Finally, it's important to build in a bit of rest and relaxation for your employees. Sponsor a chair-massage break for your employees by having a therapist come in to the workplace. Or, if you want to include more of your team at once, bring in a yoga instructor for a lunch-time stretching session. I've discovered that many instructors are willing to come in to guide employees through some basic stretches and stress-reducing techniques - perfect to help them get ready for the holiday rush.