Thanksgiving is the day that really kicks off the holiday season. Sure, there’s Halloween but the end of October seemed just a bit too early to focus on Christmas and Hanukkah and all of the festivities that surround these major holidays. (After all, at the end of October there’s still a little bit of time in Q4 to make your numbers!)
Thanksgiving isn’t associated with any religion and gift-giving isn’t a mandate. There are family and food, some sports on the television and quite often napping in the living room post-feast. Gratitude also seems to be closely aligned with the day, but perhaps, Thanksgiving could and perhaps should be more.
Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to show your appreciation to your employees and to your community as well. Consider these ideas:
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter
I know a number of people who have volunteered and have found this particular idea extremely rewarding. Soup kitchens and shelters serve up hundreds of meals on Thanksgiving and rely on volunteers to help them get through the day. Find out which facilities are convenient and where your services are needed. Consider collecting donations for a local food bank that distributes food to families in need. It’s a meaningful way to make an impact right in your community.
Poll your employees for the top charities they support and make a contribution to three of them on behalf of the company
It’s quite probable that your employees have their preferred not-for-profits and making a contribution on behalf of the company is a gesture that will be appreciated. Select the charities that have been identified by the most employees and share the news in a company-wide email or “town-hall” meeting.
Create a Thanksgiving lunch feast for the employees
Food is love! There are several ways that this can be executed, including:
> Ask employees to bring in a dish for the feast and suggest that it can be a dish “unique” to their culture or something they love to eat or make. (Ask employees to let you know what they are planning to bring lest you wind up with 10 dishes of chili or 15 cheesecakes. This feast has to be curated either by you or a Manager!).
> Cater the event for the company and try to provide a unique culinary experience rather than deli sandwiches or pizza.
> Find out if any employee has a friend or relative that would like to cater the luncheon for you and hire them to prepare the meal.
The timing of the luncheon is important and I recommend that the date be at least one week before Thanksgiving giving the employees plenty of time to deal with the intricacies surrounding their own family Thanksgiving.
And, of course, I wish YOU a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, filled with family, food and good cheer.
P.S. In this era of digital communications where handwritten notes are becoming a thing of the past, sending a personal note to each of your employees can have a powerful and positive impact. Make sure to customize each card just in case employees compare their cards and discover that everyone received the same message! Try to cite a specific situation, compliment them on a particular skill set, and even reference something personal, such as the birth of a baby or their recent marriage. I know many employees that are so touched by this gesture that they retain their cards for many years.
Note that this is an idea you may wish to consider doing for next Thanksgiving as it might require a bit of “information-gathering” as well as an appropriate amount of time required to write each note, especially if you have a large number of employees!