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By: Jason @TStationBlog Silberman A writer I knew once wrote, in a twist on the Disney song, sometimes “it’s a small word after all.” Positive recognition, if not sincerely and in the right moment, is one of the greatest gifts someone can receive. Giving thanks to your employees for their service and hard work is a great idea year-round, but the Thanksgiving season is a good time to do something really special. Expressing gratitude to your employees will increase employee engagement and encourage them to give their best and stick around. It also turns them into brand advocates that will return to you what you invested in them. According to Gartner, companies using social recognition and reward systems have seen “significant improvement in employee engagement and business outcomes.” In addition, Check out a nice infographic about the values of employee engagement in general. With that said, here are five creative ways to show your employees your gratitude. 1. Throw a Thanksgiving Party Sure, the big holiday party is just a month later, I know. Yet having a casual party or meal is a great way to increase the close feeling among your team and build a rapport between management and employees. A stand-up cocktail reception encourages people to mingle, while a sit-down dinner party for employees and their significant others is intimate and special. Choose a restaurant or venue that reflects your business philosophy or create a themed special event menu. 2. Personalized Thank You Notes Thank you cards are a traditional way to express your gratitude. Look for nice quality stationary, and hand write thoughtful, personal sentiments in each card. Quality stationary is available online, or can be custom ordered online to match your company logo. Writing thoughtful notes will make your employees feel appreciated. If an employee has gone above and beyond, now is the time to help them shine! Make people feel recognized. For a good place to start, check out some tips here. And if the written card seems a bit too old-fashioned or time-consuming to you, a personal message via email, if not right, can go a long way. 3. Give Thoughtful Gifts Give your employees a thoughtful gift. It can be a gift card for a coffee shop, a plant or bouquet of flowers, or a sweet treat from a local confectioner. For something more lavish, try a bottle of wine, or put together a personalized gift basket. Custom stationary and pens with the company logo are also a great way to say thanks. 4. Create a Team Learning Experience Bring in an expert to teach the team something new. It can be related to your industry – for example, if you run a cheese shop, bring in a sommelier for an evening of wine and cheese pairings -or just for fun, say an afternoon coffee tasting or a cooking class. A group learning experience provides your team with something to connect over and makes them feel appreciated. The kind of event is up to you! 5.Give Back Volunteering together increases community engagement, and giving back is a great way to feel good about yourself, your co-workers, and your community presence. Volunteer cleaning up local hiking trails, beautify parks by planting trees, or donate and build a playground for a local community center. For added fun, have a social afterword such as a potluck supper. Giving back is a way to express your gratitude and inspire good will in others. Group volunteer activities also help your employees build positive memories together. Showing your thanks to employees is a great way to build loyalty and encourage feelings of good will. Team building events like a lunch-and-learn or volunteer effort gives people the opportunity to connect outside the office and build meaningful connections, while gifts provide tangible recognition. Similarly, thank-you notes are an inexpensive and personal way to recognize how vital your employees are to your ongoing success. Giving thanks to your employees contributes to a culture of gratitude and appreciation all year long.