By Jillian Phipps 

Being grateful and giving thanks in the workplace is a worthy initiative

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and in addition to breaking out the turkey and pumpkin pie, it's also a time of reflection for the things you are truly grateful for. If you've got a fantastic team that is consistently providing excellent results, you're most definitely grateful! But have you been communicating that to your workforce?

Employee/employer relationships may be more arm's length than a familial relationship, a friendship, or romantic relationship, but they're still relationships. People who don't feel appreciated in relationships tend to walk after stewing under boiling resentment for too long. Under-appreciated employees are also costly and increase turnover rates. Employees who feel valued and appreciated on the other hand, will be more productive and engaged with far more incentive and motivation to give projects their all and provide long-term value to your organization. Here are some ways that you can show your employees you are thankful for them.

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1. Identify your employees' talents and strengths and actually put them to use

The truth is, not every job is fun and glamorous. A lot of repetitive grunt work has to get done or else the organization's heart would stop beating. But if you only assign the most repetitive drudge tasks that don't present any challenges or even showcase your employees' talents, it gives the impression that you really don't value them. If a new project comes up, there's no better way to gauge how your employees would like to be challenged and put their strengths to the test by simply asking them if they would like to participate, and what they'd like to contribute.

2. Recognize your employees as individuals both in terms of interests and accomplishments

Constant emphasis on team work can have some unfortunate side effects. Taking your sales team out for dinner and a cruise after crushing goals is a fantastic way to reward them, but your top sales agent could feel resentful that the brand new intern who is still learning the ropes is getting the same exact performance-based reward. It's okay to reward individual employees by recognizing their accomplishments and ensuring they get all the credit that is due.

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This can easily turn around in that you don't want to ostracize anyone or play favorites, so you need to take note of interests outside of work in addition to what these people have accomplished at work. Your billing coordinator might feel sad that she doesn't have time to volunteer for causes she supports. One solution is to offer some paid time off for volunteer work to make her feel more valued. Your star data analyst may want a small bonus to attend the rock camp for adults they always dreamed of then one day they find an all-expenses-paid pass in their inbox.

Demonstrating to your employees that you pay attention to their desires and interests outside of work shows that you truly value them as human beings, not just cogs in the machine.

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3. Encourage more open communication and feedback loops

Recognition from the boss is a great motivator, but so is that email from the accounting department where they repeated the same sentiments IT had for that employee's problem-solving skills. By showing that others need them, it increases that feeling of validation and that their contributions are important. Feedback from clients, colleagues, and other stakeholders are crucial to feeling professionally fulfilled, whether you let your employees know privately by sharing a glowing email or in public, like on social media, for example.

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