November 23, 2015

3 Simple Ways to Show Your Employees (or Coworkers) You Appreciate Them This Thanksgiving

HappyIt’s that time of year again: With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, countless media outlets will be giving us (maybe “bombarding us with” is the better phrase) suggestions about ways we can show our coworkers and bosses that we appreciate them.

At times, “giving thanks” can begin to feel less like a choice and more like a requirement.

This whirlwind of “thanks” can be a bit confusing and frustrating, leading some of us to either skip appreciation altogether, or attempt to show our gratitude in misguided ways. When our actions miss the mark, we may end up offending those around us, rather than giving them the warm, fuzzy feeling we were aiming for.

To counteract all this, I offer some appropriate suggestions for showing your appreciation in the office this Thanksgiving, whether you’re giving thanks to your employees, your bosses, or your coworkers.

1. Give Individualized Thanks

Don’t just walk up to someone and say, “Thanks for all you do!” Instead, give at least one specific example of what someone does that makes your life easier and why it is important – e.g., “Jen, thanks for being dependable and always getting your reports to me on time. I really appreciate it because it makes it easy for me to pull my information together and get my own reports in on time, as well. Thanks!”

A global, generic thanks is meaningless. If you can’t be specific, it’s better not to say anything at all.

2. Listen

Stop by a person’s workspace and ask if they have a minute to chat. Sit down, get their full attention, and ask them what their plans are for the holidays.

Now, here’s the key step:  Listen to what they share with you. 

Then, say something like, “I just wanted to stop by and let you know I hope you have an enjoyable and restful holiday. I hope you enjoy the time doing [whatever it is is they shared with you.]”

3. Offer Help

HandIf you have some extra time – and you see that someone is frantically trying to finish up a task before they leave for the holidays – see if there is anything you can do to help.

Be aware that their first response will probably be something along the lines of, “No, that’s ok. I’ve got it covered.”

Then, you can politely ask again, saying something like, “No, really, I have a few minutes, and I’d be glad to help you get some things done so you can get out of here.” A little practical help at the right time can be hugely meaningful.

It doesn’t take much. A few minutes of focused attention on your employees or coworkers can make a memorable impression  – and maybe lead to some boosted morale when everyone gets back from the holiday break!

Read more in Organizational Culture

Paul White, Ph.D., is a speaker, trainer, author, and psychologist who “makes work relationships work." Dr. White is coauthor of "Rising Above a Toxic Workplace," and has recently released training resources to help businesses avoid becoming toxic.