It's my favorite time of year. Cold weather, hot beverages, and good food... lots and lots of good food. 

.Friends Thanksgiving
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But let's not forget about the most important part of the holiday season: giving thanks. During a time where the end of the year is fast approaching, people rush to get projects completed, and plans for next year have already begun, it's important to take a step back and show appreciation for your team. After all, they're the reason you're getting that fancy Christmas bonus.
 
In a gratitude survey of 2,000 Americans by the John Templeton Foundation, 81% percent of respondents said that they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss and 70% said they’d feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss thanked them more regularly. Only 10% of survey respondents said that they regularly showed their colleagues gratitude. 
 
Yet, it's been proven that employees would choose recognition over money. 
 
"When people see there’s purpose to what they do and in getting better in their job or that they’re recognized for a job well done, they become more motivated," says Anita Bowness from Saba Software.
 
Little reminders of appreciation for your team will encourage them to finish the year with a bang and boost their confidence for taking on projects in the upcoming year. Here are some ways you can show your team some love and appreciation this holiday season:
 

1. Tell them.

This may seem like an obvious one, but you'd be surprised at how uncommon it is for managers to express gratitude to their team.
 
Happiness expert and author of The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, suggests, "Write a positive note or email each day praising or thanking someone. If you make this a short note, less than two minutes, this is a daily routine that we have found dramatically raises your social connection score. Researchers have found that social connection is as predictive of how long you will live as obesity and smoking." When your team is reassured that you recognize their hard work, that'll motivate them to finish out the year strong. 
 
Check out this awesome TED Talk on prioritizing happiness in the workplace:
 
 
 

2. Hand out gift cards.

'Tis the season of giving. Since bonuses aren't really up to the direct manager, handing out gift cards to a local coffee shop, restaurant, or favorite online shopping network is always a great incentive and a tried and true way of saying thanks to your team. Especially during a period where wallets feel lighter from Christmas shopping, everyone likes having extra spending money to get them through the holidays. 

3. Let them leave early.

This feeling is literally like hearing the recess bell after a long math lesson. Of course, if there's a ton of work to be done still, this might not be the best option. However, letting your team go home early is an excellent way of telling them they've worked hard and deserve an afternoon off.  
 

4. Buy small gifts.

Nothing over the top, but pick something related to what your team likes maybe a book you know they'd enjoy. If you're worried about all the research involved, we have a list of of 15 under $15 business books to gift to your employees this season.  

5. Plan a team happy hour.

Hang out with your team! Plan a happy hour after work and take some time to get to know your team and reward them for their hard work. If you're looking to do something more hands-on, paint nights or cooking classes are easy-to-plan activities that allow your team to get creative and enjoy the finished product!

6. Organize a potluck.

Did I mention it's the season of food? Potlucks are easy to organize, fun, and delicious! Giving your team an opportunity to plan something other than work is a great way to show your appreciation. Plus, it allows your team to show off their cooking talents (or lack thereof) and enjoy spending time together. If you really want to get into the spirit, make the potluck Thanksgiving themed! Everyone needs a little practice before the real deal.

7. Write a letter.

Nothing is more personal than a handwritten note. It takes time, and shows that you went out of your way to make them feel special. With everything done through email, online tools, and conference calls, it's a nice surprise and more memorable to find a handwritten note disclosing your appreciation for your team. 
 

8. Let them choose their next project.

"What would you like to work on next?" Allowing your team to choose their next project is a great way to show them that you not only acknowledge their hard work, but also trust them to pick their next challenge. This presents an opportunity for them to explore their talents, and possibly strengthen their weaknesses.

9. Acknowledge them in a division- or company-wide email.

Putting your appreciation on display helps everyone see how hard your team has worked and may motivate other teams to work harder. Whether it's a product announcement or an internal newsletter, it just takes a few minutes to give credit where it's due and share the accomplishments of your team with everyone.

How do you give thanks to your team?

Share your ideas in the comments.
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