4 Creative Ways Companies Show They’re Thankful for Their Employees

November 25, 2019

While Thanksgiving might only be celebrated in the U.S. and a few other countries, the need to express gratitude is universal. And in the workplace, it’s important to regularly show employees that you’re thankful for their hard work and dedication — after all, without them, the company wouldn’t exist. 

In a 2018 study of 175,000 global professionals, Randstad found that lack of recognition was one of the top drivers for employee turnover, with 27% of respondents saying they’d left a job because of it. Luckily, gestures big and small can go a long way to improving employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention.

If you’re looking for a creative way to say “thank you” this Thanksgiving — or any day of the year — check out what these companies are doing to ensure their employees feel valued. 

Commvault gathered 3,000 pictures from employees and turned them into works of art 

To celebrate Employee Appreciation Day in 2018, Commvault, a data protection and management software company with a slide between floors at their headquarters in New Jersey (pictured above), asked employees around the world to submit photos depicting life at the company. 

Employees responded enthusiastically. Commvault ultimately collected 3,000 pictures — which it used to create works of art celebrating the company culture.

  • Photo of closeup of Commvault mosaic made up of employee photos

Each individual photo formed a small part of a much bigger picture, which depicted many team members putting their hands together. The theme of the art project was “many hands make light work,” with employees invited to help assemble the intricate mosaics. You can watch a video of the assembly on Commvault’s employer branding Facebook page.

Once completed, each mosaic was hung in a local office, serving as an ongoing reminder that the company recognizes and appreciates the team’s collaborative efforts.

  • Photo of completed Commvault mosaic made up of employee photographs

Pulling off a project of this scale can be tricky, but you can do something similar simply by collecting and displaying photos of your team and your culture in action. This not only lets your team know you’re proud of them, but gives them an opportunity to reflect on what they love about working there every time they walk past the pictures. 

Zoom reimburses employees for books and empowers a designated “Happy Crew” to spread positivity

Video conferencing tool Zoom is on a mission to make people happier — and that mission extends to its employees. One way it strives to create a happier work environment is by showing its appreciation in lots of little ways, like reimbursing employees for any book they buy, either for themselves or for their family.

  • Photo of Zoom "Happy Crew" member sitting at desk

Zoom also has a 150-person strong “Happy Crew.” This team is in charge of organizing fun events (like Bring Your Parent to Work Day), coordinating volunteering opportunities, and just generally spreading good vibes throughout the company. 

The Happy Crew is made up of employee volunteers and is entirely self-managed. Zoom empowers the team to design programs and activities and provides funding to make them a reality.  

Giving employees a choice about how you thank them — whether it’s selecting their own book or picking their own team activity — is a great way to show them you care. That way, you can be sure the reward is something they actually want, rather than just a throwaway gesture. And by creating your own version of a Happy Crew, you can encourage employees to thank each other, too. 

Dribbble uses Cameo to surprise its employees with shoutouts from celebrities

Since its workforce is 100% remote, Dribbble, a design portfolio platform for digital designers, has to get creative when it comes to recognizing the team. 

One of its favorite ways to show its gratitude is by using the website Cameo to order short videos in which celebrities give a personal shout-out to employees who’ve gone above and beyond. These videos are then played at team meetings so the whole team can get in on the fun. 

On one occasion, an employee called Joel got a surprise shoutout from the actor Sean Astin (aka Samwise in The Lord of the Rings). Other meetings have featured unexpected appearances from the likes of Rebecca Black and Flavor Flav.

“All these interactions help ensure we’re fostering a culture of public recognition, appreciation, and feedback,” Dribbble explains on its blog. “They demonstrate how individual contributions impact our team, product, and company as a whole.”

Saying “thank you” might not seem like a big deal, but it can make an employee’s day. If you can find a creative way to go about it — like sharing a message from a happy customer or getting the rest of their team involved in the shoutout — you can make that thank you even more meaningful and memorable.

Homebase treats its employees to an experience offered by one of its clients, or lets them choose to donate to charity

The scheduling tool company Homebase has found a way to show its employees it’s thankful while helping them feel more connected to their work. 

At the end of every month, each team presents what it has accomplished. Then, everybody votes on which team had the greatest impact on helping the company reach its yearly goals. The winning team has a choice: either pick an experience from a local merchant (like mini-golf or dinner at a restaurant) or donate to a nonprofit. The list of possible merchants and nonprofits is made up entirely of Homebase clients. 

“It's a great way to show appreciation for Homebase employees,” says Ravi Dehar, Homebase’s head of growth, “while also building a closer connection to the customers we serve." 

Finding ways to tie employee recognition back to their day-to-day work and to the company’s overarching goals can help them see the wider impact of their efforts. This can improve engagement and make employees more motivated to do their best work. 

Thankfulness isn’t just for Thanksgiving 

You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving — or any other day — to show your employees you’re thankful for their efforts. Thank them with creative ideas like these and, if you can, by offering them flexible work options, creating opportunities for them to learn and develop, and finding other ways to help them grow their careers with you — making their work more rewarding all year round.

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* Photo from Commvault