With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s only natural to reflect on all we have to be thankful for. For some, a roof over our heads and good health might be our biggest blessings this season. For others, good friends and family top the list. For business managers and owners, customers and partners might be top of mind. But what about our employees? Without them, would our companies be thriving? Would our products get made? Would our customers be happy? Likely not. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate everything we’re thankful for–including our employees–and although we might not share a meal with them on the official holiday, we can express our appreciation to our employees in other ways, like:

Hand-written cards. If possible, hand-write a personal note of thanks to each employee for their dedication and hard work throughout the year. If your company employs several hundreds or even thousands of people, that might not be possible, so consider scripting an email that expresses your true appreciation for your employees.

 

Gifts. You don’t need to show your appreciation by handing out lavish gifts that break the bank; even small tokens of appreciation go a long way. Need some ideas? How about a gift card to a local grocery store, a free turkey or pie, centerpieces for Thanksgiving tables, or even a half-day off between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get some holiday shopping done?

 

Giving back. What better time to hold a food drive for a local homeless shelter, make a contribution to your employees’ favorite charities on their behalf, or hold a company-wide volunteer day?

 

Giving them time. If you are able, let your employees leave at noon on Wednesday so they can get ahead of the traffic or start preparing early for their guests. For those whose businesses don’t shut down for the holidays, consider covering some or all of your employee’s shift yourself or spreading the hours among many employees in shorter increments so they can enjoy part of the day with their family.

 

Hosting an employee lunch. Host a lunch for the employees where you can personally thank them for their contributions. If money is tight, have the employees each bring in a dish and make the lunch more fun and interactive by having the employees judge the best dish in each category (appetizer, side dish, main dish, and dessert), awarding the winner with one of the gifts suggested above.

Conducting a recipe swap. Since everyone has their own twist on what Thanksgiving dinner includes, ask your employees to submit recipes for their favorite dish or dishes and compile them into an electronic cookbook for whoever wants it.

 

By expressing your thanks to your employees, you’re not only boosting their morale, you’re making them feel valued. Valued employees feel more engaged and are less likely to look elsewhere. So, be thankful to your employees this Thanksgiving! Whatever you do will go a long way.