In one week about 117 million Americans will be sitting upon feasts with family and friends, reflecting on what we’re thankful for. Considering the excitement of crafting the perfect potato and celery root gratin, catching-up with those close to us, and relaxing with a day of football; it’s safe to say that spirits are high.

While we are preparing for holiday bliss, it’s the perfect time of year for organizations to capitalize on these positive moods and recognize what employees mean to the organization. Thanksgiving was founded in 1621 to celebrate a plentiful harvest. The harvest of companies is production and the production results from its producers, and most valuable-asset: its people. By celebrating employees now and revisiting habits of gratitude, it results in a loyal and happy workforce long after the high of the season passes. While thinking about the turkey time-to-thaw ratio and how to be a gracious host, keep in mind these actions to retain your key talent.


Revisit and Assess When Times are Good

When you discover one of your top performers has been interviewing externally, it’s too late. You may win a short-term victory with a counter-offer or new assignment, but it only buys time. They have already mentally removed themselves from the cause and the organization.

Detachment can be avoided, or at least prepared for, by engaging with employees when times are good. If there is a lot of excitement during a time of a new product rollout, expansion or any scenario; it’s an opportunity to understand what is going well and specifically gain insight to what employees are enjoying about the company, their work, leadership and the culture. You may find trends or events that can be applied to continually stimulate your team. By focusing proactively on the positive, it can be applied as common practice to ensure future contentment.  


Empower Employees

We make hiring decisions for a reason. If decision-making is sound and holistic, it’s been based on a set of criteria that includes technical skills, intangible attributes, culture fit, culture contribution and other factors. It’s important to trust our hiring decisions and allow employees to have ownership of their work.

Employees that stay with organizations feel empowered and trusted to carry out their objectives. The desire for work autonomy and creative outlets is one reason why employees start to passively explore external opportunities. When employees feel they’re not being valued for their expertise, it creates a defensive attitude, as if their ability is in question. We’ll see employees simply grinding out tasks, either out fear of losing their job or to reap immediate praise, but a controlling approach is not a long-term retention strategy.


Give Purpose Not Tasks

This is very important and often confused. Sometimes we assume by delegating more, we are empowering employees to take control of their work. There is some truth to this, but, the value lies in purpose.

Rather than assigning tasks, checklists and methods; leaders that can demonstrate vision and the bigger picture objective, results in a different outcome. Employees find purpose. They are part of a greater cause and more likely to work in tandem with other departments and functions. Encourage employees to use their own methods to complete projects, but create a consistent vision that includes their purpose and morale will be high.


Encourage Values that Transcend Outside of the Workplace

Happy employees have purpose in and out of the workplace. Although leaders can’t control and should not interfere in the personal lives of employees, they can encourage organizational values that promote well-being.

Little acts such as holding meetings outside the office to take a walk and get fresh air may carry over to habits outside of work. As it resonates with feelings of mental rejuvenation, many people start exercising these habits at home. Many companies are expressing their value of families, vacation time, physical activity and hobbies. As humans, when we’re exposed to these themes in the workplace that are proven to promote happiness, they are often implemented in personal life and the result is a well-rounded existence.


Internal Rotation

In a recent Gallup survey to understand why millennials make career moves, found that 93% left their current organization to change jobs. The number indicates that internal opportunities either were not present, communicated or intriguing enough.

Although it may not be realistic to continuously shift people around the organization, you’d be surprised how exposure and learning about different departments provides a clearer picture of an individual’s contributions and objectives. Even by assembling teams from different segments that are focused on a similar outcome will create new challenges and experiences. This is ultimately the change employees seek.


Have a great turkey day and remember, there’s a lot to be thankful for at your dinner table and back in the office.