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Thanksgiving : More Than Just Turkey Talk

By Karen Young

Saying thanks. Giving thanks. We talk a lot about gratitude around the holidays, especially on Thanksgiving; but how far does the season spirit reach? Does it go beyond your dinner table and family? As an employer, it definitely benefits company morale to show your thanks for the people you work with every day. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to shower them with physical gifts—it could be an extra kind word or two in passing, or even telling them how appreciative you are of the work they do.

The point is that it pays to consider how you might be thankful for your employees and then communicate that to them.

Servant-as-leader mentality

In 1970, Robert K. Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leadership.” According to Greenleaf’s website, a servant-leader is defined as follows:

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

The first and last sentence of that quote are what stand out the most to me. By showing your thanks—by taking the time to voice your gratitude or acknowledging the accomplishment of others, you’re actively contributing to their development and creating a positive work environment. Gratitude can be shown in any number of ways, but it should be shown regardless. Everyone enjoys feeling valued and that the work they do contributes to the bigger picture.

How do you express your thanks and appreciation?

Everyone communicates in different ways. To be an effective leader, it helps to identify the ways in which you best communicate—and then learn about how your employees communicate. Do they enjoy conversation? Are they more receptive to perks or benefits? It can be invaluable to assess how you express yourself, particularly when it comes to your appreciation of others. When you’re “speaking the same language” as your employees, your appreciation can resonate much more strongly than if you’re expressing it in a way that doesn’t fit with the culture or personalities of your company.

Giving back as a company

Giving back is another huge part of Thanksgiving, and really, a basic part of being a kind person as well. Some companies choose to sponsor special events or donate to charities every year; and still some will go out as a team and volunteer their time to special projects or charity groups. When you make giving back a company-wide activity, you have the opportunity to learn so much about your people.

If you’re undecided about which charity to give back to, that could be a perfect chance to pow-wow with your employees and poll them. You won’t be able to please everyone but you may be able to rotate causes/charities per quarter based upon employee input if you’re getting a lot of suggestions.

You could even set up a selection committee who works out the nitty-gritty details for what charities you may want to look into, and how you’ll be able to give back (monetary donations, physical goods, volunteering time, etc.).

However you choose to show your appreciation and give back, take time this year to make sure you do so! It bolsters morale and strengthens the company culture, making your business one people want to work for. How’s that for #DramaFreeHR?


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