Genuine recognition can have a positive impact on employees’ morale, engagement and job satisfaction. If you’re ready to step up your efforts, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to go all in on gratitude and show your team how much you appreciate their hard work. The right strategies can give employees a boost that sustains them through the busy holiday season.

1. Host a Team Thanksgiving Lunch

The highlight of Thanksgiving is the food, and there’s no need to hold off until the actual holiday when you can incorporate the festivities into your work week, too. Before your team leaves for the long weekend, host a Thanksgiving lunch. Order a family-style feast through Grubhub, and arrange for an extra-long break to enjoy the meal as a group. You can go with the classics — turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes — or go in a different direction by ordering from a local restaurant your workers love. Whichever option you choose, make sure to ask about dietary preferences in advance to ensure everyone gets a meal they love.

Grubhub catering streamlines the planning and cooking process, so all you need to do is pick a restaurant and place an order. A driver delivers everything, and you can even arrange for them to set up your food. That way, your employees can simply show up and enjoy the meal.

A free Thanksgiving meal might seem like a simple treat, but it can have a big impact on your business. In a recent Grubhub survey, 93% of our corporate clients surveyed agreed that meal perks boosted employee morale.* That’s not all — many of our clients also reported that meals improve productivity, engagement and overall satisfaction with a company’s benefits package.

2. Schedule an Office Competition

The days leading up to a holiday are often stressful; give your team time to blow off steam by hosting a friendly office competition. If you want to stick to a Thanksgiving theme, invite workers to participate in a pie-baking competition. Establish a panel of judges, or host a blind taste-test and allow employees to vote for their favorite. Alternatively, you could host a Thanksgiving recipe contest, an office game day with pumpkin bowling or a fall-themed partner scavenger hunt.

The trick to a successful office competition is to find ways to ensure employees are engaged. Prepare prizes that employees can’t get anywhere else — an extra day off, access to the CEO’s parking spot for a month or the chance to attend a conference with the senior management team, for example.

3. Hand Out an Employee Appreciation Gift

If the holidays are a busy time for your business, a gift is a wonderful way to show your gratitude without taking valuable time out of the workday. The trick to an effective appreciation gift is to choose something that employees truly want. Gift them a weekly meal credit with Grubhub throughout the holiday season. Individual meal perks make a great gift idea for employees, as your team can order exactly what they like, from a restaurant of their choice, and have it delivered wherever they are working.

Consider additional gift options such as:

  • Credit to spend on branded merchandise
  • Cozy blankets to use in the office
  • Gift certificate to a local spa, coffee shop or entertainment venue
  • Holiday gift basket with snacks and local treats

4. Make Over the Break Room

Surprise your employees this Thanksgiving by giving shared spaces, such as a break room, a makeover. Your goal is to create a room that feels like an escape — a place where employees can relax and disconnect. And when workers can truly enjoy their downtime, they can go back to work feeling focused and refreshed. During the end-of-year rush, a comfortable in-office getaway can help reduce stress levels and lower the risk of burnout. It also benefits your bottom line, as research shows effective breaks also improve performance.

As you redesign the break room, consider ways to make it more inviting and soothing:

  • Add lamps as a softer alternative to overhead fluorescent lights
  • Create a cozy seating area with sofas or plush chairs
  • Brighten the room with green plants
  • Invest in an upgraded coffee machine
  • Stock. a cabinet with snacks
  • Give the room a fresh coast of paint
  • Hang artwork or photos by local artists

5. Get Vocal About Gratitude

When the budget is tight, expressing your gratitude is an affordable way to show appreciation. Set up a bulletin board in the break room or another prominent spot, and post a personalized note of thanks to each employee — the more specific, the better. Detailed observations reassure employees that you notice and appreciate their efforts. Get your managers in on the fun, too; since they work closely with team members, they can provide even more insight. You might even include thank-yous that come in from clients.

Once the board has something for everyone on the team, set out cards and pens to encourage everyone to get involved. Employees can recognize their peers for helping with projects, providing valuable advice or bringing them coffee on a busy morning. The process encourages workers to seek out reasons to see each other in a positive light, which can have a big impact on the overall mood in the office.

6. Start the Holiday Weekend Early

Chances are, many of your employees are planning to host guests or travel to visit family at Thanksgiving. Give them more time to enjoy the weekend by letting them log off early the day before the long weekend. They can use the time to get a head start on holiday preparations or simply enjoy the unexpected free afternoon. Giving your employees extra time to take care of personal business shows you value them as people as well as professionals.

No matter how you choose to show appreciation for your employees this Thanksgiving, your efforts set the stage for a positive and productive festive season. As you look forward to end-of-year celebrations, keep your workload under control by leaving the food to the professionals, including catering your company events this holiday season with Grubhub. Contact us to learn more.


*Based on an internal survey of Grubhub Corporate clients (2022).