Updated November 2, 2020
When there’s so much going on in our lives it’s easy to forget how grateful we are for what we have. We’re busy building our careers, nurturing relationships, bringing up children and pursuing our hobbies.
That’s what makes Thanksgiving such a great occasion. We all reflect on how thankful we are for everything we have. Even if just for one day (Thursday 26th November this year).
But our jobs are a big part of our lives too, so there’s no reason not to get into the Thanksgiving spirit at work as well. On Thanksgiving week this year, try celebrating with these Thanksgiving office ideas.
1. Spread The Message
With so much to be thankful for, why keep it to ourselves? Capture the sentiment of the things you’re most thankful for and share it with colleagues.
There are any number of ways to do this but consider a gratitude wall where staff can write what they’re most thankful for on post-it notes and display them on the wall. When complete, you have a wonderful wall of words to lift everyone’s spirits.
Or set up a meeting room with a video camera so that staff can record themselves saying what they’re thankful for on video. If that feels a little too ‘Big Brother’ for some, let them use their phone instead. Edit all the videos together to create a heart-warming montage which can be shared in a Video Alert to all staff.
For remote teams, try setting up a Zoom Thanksgiving session where staff can share what they’re most thankful for with each other – plus get some much-needed human interaction too.
2. Test Your Knowledge
So your colleagues love Thanksgiving? And they have a competitive streak? Then Thanksgiving activities like a special themed staff quiz is just the way to celebrate the occasion and foster a bit of light-hearted rivalry.
Collect a series of trivia questions on the history of Thanksgiving to challenge staff members either on their own or in groups. For example, what year was the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Answer = 1924.
Or, what was the “Rebecca” gifted to President Calvin Coolidge as a Thanksgiving gift in 1926? Answer = a live raccoon.
3. A Feast For The Senses
In the home, family are the core of thanksgiving, so naturally, teams are the core of Thanksgiving at work. Strengthen your teams and encourage interaction with special team-building activities themed around the occasion.
Food is the obvious choice since it’s such a major part of any Thanksgiving celebration (more food is eaten in America on this day than any other in the year). Make sure to assign a different type of food for each team to prepare, just to ensure you don’t end up with 50 pumpkin pies!
This year, not all of us will have the pleasure of celebrating Thanksgiving together in the same office. Try taking the festivities to the online world with a virtual Thanksgiving dinner via Zoom and have each team member prepare their favorite thanksgiving dish and share it with the team.
For a thanksgiving work idea that's a little less calorie-intensive, unfurl those flags, dust off those ornaments and try a workspace decoration contest. Which team or person can take the crown by most brilliantly capturing the Thanksgiving spirit on their desks?
4. Praise For Staff Superstars
Hopefully we’re all surrounded by fantastic, helpful and inspiring co-workers every day. Well, at least some of them, right? Chances are, we don’t thank these amazing people as often as we ought to.
Thanking co-workers in a more formal manner makes sure that your office heroes are recognized for their achievements and receive the credit they’re due.
An online praise system linked to your corporate intranet is a simple way to encourage staff to submit praise for colleagues and express gratitude. Collate them all at the end of the week or month and share them with all staff in a beautiful digital newsletter.
5. Give Something Back
As well as being thankful for everything we have, it’s worth also thinking of those who aren't as fortunate. An offsite charity day is a great way to help people in need and to selflessly give something back.
Ask your Human Resources team if there are any preferred charities the organization supports. If there aren’t, try looking online for suggestions of worthy causes in your area. There are also opportunities to participate in a volunteer activity online if COVID-19 restrictions create barriers.
For example, on one charity day, our whole team worked with a local special children’s school on their Olympics sports day. The happiness and joy of the children made us all thankful for the opportunity to truly help enrich the lives of others.
6. Show Some Kindness
It’s never been more important to show others a little kindness. In trying times, small acts of kindness can do a lot to brighten a person’s day. In the workplace, it can boost engagement, productivity and mental wellbeing.
On top of being a good thanksgiving team building activity, Kindness to-do lists are a great way to encourage staff to perform acts of kindness towards each other. Try launching it with a Survey inviting team members to give suggestions, then use these to create a list of tasks for employees to complete. It could be as simple as asking someone about their day, offering some Netflix suggestions or just telling someone about a way they’ve made you smile.
Set a timeframe for staff to complete the tasks and inspire them to check every item off their list by offering a kindness-infused reward for the first person to finish all their acts.
Thanksgiving is a fantastic opportunity to be thankful for everything we all have – both at home and at work. But why stop there? Perhaps the best legacy of Thanksgiving could be making it more than just one day and living the lessons every day.
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