6 min read

As we enter the end of the year and get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, it's a great time to show recognition and appreciation for your people. And although this is the season of giving and gratitude, employers should always be looking for holiday bonus alternatives to give their people what they crave at work: continuous recognition.

When recognition is done strategically and consistently, it’s proven to be an important driver for creating a work environment where employees can become more engaged, helping the company achieve the business results it’s committed to. 

The challenge is knowing what to include in your feast when there are so many different options. To truly help your managers and employees understand the value of recognition as a strategic tool, set the table for success, invite the right guests and make sure you have a centerpiece to tie it all together. Let’s dive into the eight must-have recipes to include in your employee engagement feast.

 1. The Thanksgiving toast
 2. The starter
 3. The main course
 4. The must-have side dish
 5. The new and improved side dish
 6. The gravy
 7. The dessert table
 8. The post-meal routine

1. The Thanksgiving toast: Your company mission

Every good Thanksgiving meal begins with an uplifting toast to set the stage, bring your guests together and fill people with excitement for the journey they’re about to embark on. It’s more than breaking bread – it’s about sharing stories, fostering an environment of gratitude and making new memories to last a lifetime. 

Your toast should be inspiring, heartfelt and aligned to what you want your Thanksgiving attendees to take away from the day. And the same goes for your company mission.

Just as your toast connects and aligns your attendees, your mission unites and connects your people. The holiday season is an opportunity to remind your employees why they’re on this journey, how their everyday work improves business results and how they’re a part of something bigger.

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2. The starter: Your company values

Nothing gets a party going like a good appetizer or starter – charcuterie board, anyone? The starters set the stage for your feast and get the conversation going. The same is true for employee engagement initiatives. Your company values are the fuel for everything you do and keep people coming back for more. 

Take the concept of creating a charcuterie board. You choose where to place things, what to highlight and how to make it unique to you. This applies to your engagement platform as well. 

Just like a charcuterie board puts certain ingredients in the limelight (you know everyone’s going for that truffle cheese), you can design the homepage of your employee engagement platform, like calling out a Value of the Month and shining a spotlight on it. You get to choose how to design your homepage so that it reflects your top engagement initiatives – you can swap in videos or polls to make it irresistible.


3. The main course: Your employee engagement platform

At this year’s Thanksgiving feast, turkey isn’t in the spotlight. Instead, the main course is your employee engagement platform. Your platform is your all-in-one hub – a place where employees spend time reading invaluable articles, staying up-to-date with various projects across the business and even hearing from your CEO on a regular basis. 

And just as your Aunt Judy spends hours brining and basting the turkey to make it the showstopper – your engagement platform is the focal point of your culture initiatives. 

It’s the perfect opportunity to bring your purpose, mission and values together in one place and connect your global employees.


4. The must-have side dish: Your employee rewards

Ah, stuffing. The must-have side dish at any Thanksgiving feast. Why? Because it’s a dish that you can eat all-year-round, but it’s especially tasty and even nostalgic at this time of year. It goes perfectly with every other side dish, but always has prime real estate on your plate (maybe even half of your plate if we’re being honest).

The same is true for monetary awards – they’re great all year long. Employers shouldn’t wait for employees to hit length of service milestones and give employees impersonal gifts. Instead, focus on must-have modern employee rewards that are frequent, timely and meaningful to all people. Give your people the power of choice and they’ll always come back for seconds.


5. The new and improved side dish: Your themed communications

Plain old glazed carrots not making the cut this year? Just like you put a new spin on your roasted vegetable dish, you should be updating your employee communications on a regular basis to keep things fresh and exciting on your platform.

Wondering how to create an employee communication strategy? A safe bet is to map things to the calendar year, involve key stakeholders and do quarterly or monthly themes. You can also amplify recognition moments with a Thank You Thursday blog, or feature new starters in a People News blog – helping to connect and engage dispersed employees.

6. The gravy: Your managers

Without gravy, your meal would be incomplete. Your mashed potatoes would be bland and your stuffing would be dry. Your gravy is what makes your meal delicious. Sure, it may go on top, but it’s most definitely not “the icing on the cake.” It’s a fundamental ingredient to your Thanksgiving feast, and it needs to be done right. Because no one likes burnt gravy.

Oftentimes, the success of recognition within your culture is often in the hands of a company’s managers. 

So, how do you help managers recognize employees and participate in engagement initiatives? Start by inviting your managers to your feast, making sure managers themselves feel appreciated and providing them with the tools (and training) they need to be successful. When your managers are culture champions, their impact influences everything in the organization for the better. Pass the gravy boat, please.


7. The dessert table: Your mobile app

Whether you’re a pumpkin pie fan or more of a cheesecake person – stopping by the dessert table is never a let down. But after Thanksgiving is over, don’t we all wish we could have more sweets in our life? Or have a dessert table accessible to us at any moment? Well, the fun doesn’t have to end. 

Your mobile employee engagement app carries the holiday spirit throughout the whole year, with continuous recognition moments. 

At the end of a meeting (or your engagement feast), have everyone take a few minutes to download the Connect+ app, giving them the quickest access to the platform and allowing them to post and comment on recognition right from their phone, from any location at any time. Isn’t that the sweetest?


8. The post-meal routine: Your recognition breaks

After finishing your Thanksgiving feast (and watching football on the couch), your holiday may be over, but the feeling of gratitude and celebration shouldn’t be. When you think about your own organization, it’s crucial to make these moments last throughout the entire year. 

Do you provide employees with dedicated time to send one another recognition moments? 

Encourage your employees to take five minutes sometime within the week (Wednesday mornings, Friday at noon, etc.) to either send someone a recognition in the platform or comment on one. You can even schedule it on everyone’s calendar so it’s there as a gentle reminder.

Celebrating and recognizing employees during the holiday season is always appreciated, but it’s key to make your feast last all year long. Creating a culture of continuous recognition is a key ingredient in propelling your organization forward and improving business results. Ready to get started?

Chat with an engagement specialist

Ryann Redmond

Ryann Redmond is an Employee Engagement Consultant at Reward Gateway and has been working with business leaders to make their environments a better place to work for more than five years. She is a self-proclaimed coffee snob and mom of two boys… hence the coffee.

Employee Engagement Consultant

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