Article | Employee Relations

5 Ways to Express Workplace Gratitude & Appreciation This Holiday Season

Daryl Forkell
G giving thanks thanksgiving lettering
G giving thanks thanksgiving lettering

When you hear the term “Thanksgiving holiday,” chances are you picture family and friends enjoying one another’s company as the fire cracks and pops in the background. With the game on in the den, you can smell the turkey roasting in the oven as the gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, and sweet corn start making an appearance on the dining room table.

Sounds like a scene to be thankful for, right?

Hold on for a second: In the midst of all your daydreaming, you’ve likely forgotten that you’re sitting at your desk with weeks of work sitting between you and the Thanksgiving holiday.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for the spirit of thanks and appreciation around the office! Research from Harvard Medical School, in fact, shows there is a strong correlation between gratitude and work engagement – not just during the Thanksgiving season but throughout the year.

“Managers who remember to say ‘thank you’ to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder,” notes Harvard.

So what are some ways to express workplace gratitude and appreciation this holiday season (and beyond)? Let’s take a look at 5 examples we’ve collected from a variety of sources across the Internet:

1. Say “Thank You”

“‘Employee surveys continue to show that people value a simple ‘thank you’ from managers,’ says David Shindler, founder of social learning site, The Employability Hub. ‘Psychologists have long pointed to different personality types valuing appreciation in a way that has most impact on the person, ranging from a job well done to simply being appreciated for who they are.’

Joyce K. Reynolds, an expert business coach, agrees. ‘While salary increases, bonuses, perks and other financial rewards are very important to employees, recognition and genuine appreciation can prove to be the primary keys to talent growth and retention.’” 1

2. Create a Culture of Gratitude

“Cultivating a culture of gratitude might be the best way to help a workplace prepare for stresses that come with change, conflict, and failure. Making gratitude a policy and a practice ‘builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall,’ writes psychologist Robert Emmons. ‘There is scientific evidence that grateful people are more resilient to stress, whether minor everyday hassles or major personal upheavals.’

Gratitude helps employees to see beyond one disaster and recognize their gains. [But, in order to do so, employees need to] overcome their aversion to gratitude on the job, and come to see it as just one more career skill [they] can cultivate alongside skills like communication, negotiation, and forgiveness. It’s something anyone can learn—from which everyone will benefit. 2

3. Stage Appreciation Events

“One great way to show [employee appreciation is to] throw parties. Throughout the year, we host parties for our team members. The best ones include their spouses and children. This sends a message that we love not just the employees but their entire families for the contribution that they collectively make to our organization. It takes a village to run an awesome company.

Every employee, every team member makes some sacrifice to be part of the organization and sometimes that sacrifice comes at the expense of spending time with their family members.

Say thanks with a company outing, a party or a huge get together that celebrates your people, their families and the organization.” 3

4. Spend Time With Employees

“Time is our most valuable commodity. When we choose to share our lives and our precious time with others, we are boldly declaring who and what we care about the most.

Spending time with [employees] strengthens that relationship, which results in a strong support system. People with solid relationships around them are generally happier and more content. Investing the time in others and appreciating their place [can bring about] bountiful rewards.” 4

5. Send a Thanksgiving Business Greeting Card

“[To show appreciation during the holiday season, employers can send] warm, appreciative Thanksgiving cards. From the traditions of pumpkin pie to the iconic colors and symbols of autumn, Hallmark Business Connections’ Thanksgiving cards feature the timeless quality of the season of gratitude.

Example sentiments include ‘With sincere appreciation for your hard work and best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving’ or ‘Thanksgiving is the perfect time to say how much we appreciate your contributions throughout the year.’” 5

Final Thoughts

In the workplace, telling employees “it is great to work with you” goes beyond just the words themselves – what matters is showing employees that they’re valued for their hard work and dedication.

This holiday season, companies big and small should remember to give thanks for employees at all levels, expressing their gratitude and appreciation in ways that can make a difference to employee outlook and motivation during the holidays and throughout the year.

In what ways has your organization expressed gratitude to its employees?


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