Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving as a Team

Thanksgiving is a crazy time around our office. I suspect it’s the same around your office, too. Maybe you think it’s too busy to sacrifice an hour or two for a team Thanksgiving meal. I’m going to do my best to change your mind about that.

Turkey in foreground, team chatting in backRegardless of industry, everyone seems to have more to do around the end of November. It’s almost the end of the year, so there’s the race to get those numbers up. Our clients also feel the Q4 crunch, and we typically have a few last-minute or out-of-scope requests around this time, too.

Then there are vacation schedules to coordinate, travel plans to finalize, and the traditional stress of hosting or attending a huge dinner with family. Let’s be honest, even if you love your family, it’s still a big production and a lot of work.

It’s easy to see why so many companies order a catered “Thanksgiving lunch,” and then let their employees go back to their desks to eat it. Even the office potluck is often a grab-n-go affair. Everybody’s busy. No time for sitting around the table.

At Big Sea, we made a choice to NOT do it that way.

Taking time out to say thanks

Thanksgiving (for all its complicated history) is the holiday where we show gratitude. Being thankful and appreciative of others is a big part of our culture at Big Sea. We do a lot of high-fiving, both in real life and in our Slack channels. We use Bonusly to acknowledge awesome work. It’s the good human thing to do, and we are good humans.

Gratitude also has real business benefits.

How gratitude affects culture

Studies indicate that messages of gratitude motivate your workforce. So, taking time to sit down and show your team how much you appreciate them can actually help them crush those Q4 goals.

Gratitude at work also improves your team’s health and wellbeing. Showing and receiving gratitude can lead to an increase in metabolism, better sleep habits, and reduced stress. Who couldn’t use less stress around the holidays, right?

Beyond the health and productivity benefits, gratitude creates a culture of teamwork, mutual respect, and shared happiness. Gratitude in the workplace can reduce aggression and toxic emotions like exploitation and entitlement.

For more on negativity in the workplace, check out our blog, Grumpiness is Contagious.

Gratitude is also a reciprocal benefit. The more you say thanks and the more your team feels appreciated, the more likely they’ll spread that love around. We see this with our Bonusly program. One person gives a bonus for something rad, and the next thing you know that bonus is doubled and even tripled by others chiming in.

Why we do a potluck

We could cater in from any one of the myriad fabulous restaurants that surround us, but we choose to do a potluck. Why?

We spend more waking hours with our coworkers than our spouses and families. When Hurricane Irma barreled toward us, we hunkered down here, in the office, together. We are more than coworkers; we’re practically family.

Family doesn’t order in Thanksgiving.

Food is an expression of yourself, especially when it’s homemade. We learn more about each other when we sit down to a meal provided by all of us. Vegetarian recipes, vegan dishes, hearty platters and healthy plates. Each dish is a little slice of a team member’s personality and heart.

I also believe that food is a gift, and food made with intent, made to feed people you care about, may be one of the best gifts you can give.

This Friday, we will sit down as a team. We will share a meal made by and for all of us. We will celebrate and give thanks to each other, and for each other, and the amazing workplace atmosphere we create together.

Then, we’ll do the dishes and get back to crushing our goals.