7 Ways To Tell Your Staff You’re Thankful For Them This Thanksgiving


You probably already know the importance of showing your staff gratitude for all they do year-round. Everyone needs appreciation, and staff productivity and satisfaction improve when they feel valued at work. But as we near Thanksgiving, it’s a particularly appropriate time to show your gratefulness for their hard (and sometimes thankless) work.

Here are 7 ideas to help you do just that!

1. Organize a staff Thanksgiving meal.

Set aside time during the week of Thanksgiving or the week before for everyone to step away from their work, socialize, and enjoy a meal together. It can be as simple as a pizza party or as elaborate as a full turkey dinner, complete with dressing, cranberry sauce, and pie to finish. The important thing is that it’s a chance for staff members to connect with you and each other, get a little break during the day, and understand how thankful you are for all of them.

2. Praise them publicly.

While you don’t need to give staff members a pat on the back every time they do something well, occasionally acknowledging the ways that they contribute to the team will let them know that you notice and appreciate their work.

For example, a member of our team introduced us to an exercise that facilitated expressing appreciation for our coworkers. Each person takes a turn standing up and answering a few questions about him or herself from other staff members. Then, staff members have an opportunity to say what they appreciate about that person. Finally, everyone gives him or her a standing ovation. It may sound corny, but as an introvert who took part in this activity, I have to admit that it definitely made me feel valued by my colleagues, even if it was a little uncomfortable to be the center of attention. The Thanksgiving meal would be a great time for this activity. If you have a large staff, you could highlight one or two people at weekly or monthly meetings.

3. Praise them privately.

Accolades don’t need to be received in public to be meaningful. A nice note, heartfelt email, or even a simple, genuine expression of gratitude for a person’s contributions to the work of the church can make a huge difference in his or her workweek.

4. Get to know them as individuals, not just as staff.

Do you know anything about your Children’s Director other than how much the kids love her? Or about the Office Manager other than his wizardry with Excel?  Find time to meet with staff members one-on-one or in groups of two or three to learn who they are and hear their stories over a cup of coffee or lunch. This will show them that you care about each of them on a personal level and will also help you implement our next suggestion.

5. Invest in their lives.

Is a staff member expecting a baby? Was there a death in the family? Support them by arranging for other staff members and friends to deliver meals. There are several free websites that make this easy, including TakeThemAMeal.com and MealTrain.com. Don’t forget to include the singles on your staff! Have them over for dinner or give them a grocery store or restaurant gift card.

6. Treat them to coffee.

Simply picking up coffee for everyone after lunch can brighten up the day just as that mid-afternoon slump is starting to take effect. You might be surprised at the impact a Pumpkin Spice Latte can have!

7. Encourage them to take a break.

Every church staffer or pastor’s family knows how exhausting the holiday season can be. There are innumerable children’s events, service opportunities, and special church services. Recognize the hard work that your team does and encourage each member to make time for rest—spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. A worn-out staff does no one any good!

Taking the time to ensure your staff knows that you’re thankful for them will benefit both you and them. We hope you find these suggestions helpful!


If you liked this, then you’ll also like What Thanksgiving Can Teach Us About Teams.

New call-to-action