Thanksgiving is traditionally a day set aside to spend with family, and for more and more Americans, that includes their work family. According to CareerBuilder’s annual Thanksgiving survey, 20 percent of workers say they will celebrate the holiday with co-workers this year – either at or outside of the office – up only slightly from 19 percent of workers who did so last year.
Why? Well perhaps, like Steve Martin in the greatest holiday movie of all time, they miss their flight home for the holiday. Or maybe, like 1 percent of Americans, they actually prefer their co-workers’ company to their family’s (understandable in some cases).
Then there’s the off chance they work for Martha Stewart and can’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy molasses-and-cider glazed turkey with rye-and-black-walnut stuffing, followed by deep-dish dried-apple and cranberry pie atop a festive Thanksgiving doily table runner.
Also a possibility: They’re stuck with them. According to the survey, 22 percent of workers will have to work on Thanksgiving, an increase from both last year and 2013 (16 percent and 14 percent, respectively).
But even though 91 percent of workers would rather spend the day with family, given the choice, 8 percent of workers say they would make like Kelly Taylor picking between Dylan and Brandon and choose neither.
The survey also provided a closer look at the workers planning to celebrate with co-workers, breaking the results down by age groups, industries and geographic regions.
- While relatively steady across employee age groups, celebrating Thanksgiving with colleagues is most popular among workers ages 25-34 (26 percent say they will), followed by workers ages 35-44 (22 percent of workers say they will).
- Broken down by industry, more than 1 in 4 health care workers (28 percent) plan to celebrate the holiday together, followed by sales (23 percent). Interestingly, only 13 percent of leisure/hospitality workers say they will see their colleagues on Thanksgiving, down from 24 percent last year. (Perhaps there was some drama there?)
- Looking at regions of the country, the South sees the highest percentage of workers breaking bread together, with over a quarter (27 percent) of workers planning to spend the holiday together, followed by 18 percent in the West, 16 percent in the Midwest, and 14 percent of workers in the Northeast.
Four Ways to Maintain Employee Morale During the Busy Holiday Season
Even if they do not have to work on Thanksgiving Day itself, the stretch between November and December can be a stressful time for everyone, and it can take a toll on employee morale and productivity. Help your employees get through the holiday season with the following tips.
- Let them flex. When possible, let employees choose their work hours during the holiday season, trade shifts with other employees or give them the option to take another holiday off if they’re working on Thanksgiving.
- Make little gestures a big deal. Small, frequent tokens of appreciation – from a $5 Starbucks card to a handwritten thank-you note to coupons for local services – can go a long way toward showing employees that you appreciate their hard work and brighten their day.
- The fastest way to an employee’s heart. Never underestimate the power of free food to boost moods and lift spirits. According a recent survey by Seamless, 60 percent of employees say having food at the office makes them feel more “valued and appreciated,” and nearly half (46 percent) said food perks would increase their satisfaction with their employer. To boost morale during the busy holiday season, consider treating employees to free lunch or dinner when days get long, providing gift cards to local restaurants or throwing a holiday potluck.
- Make them say, “Aaaah.” The holidays are undoubtedly a stressful time, and in turn can take a toll on employees’ physical health. Consider inviting a massage therapist or yoga instructor to the office to help employees de-stress and rejuvenate. Or reward them for their hard work with a gift card to a local spa.