Sometimes, it seems like the spirit of the holiday season is lost on us. At work, we don’t give thanks nearly enough: Some 79% of employees quit because they didn’t feel appreciated. And just as everyone took George Bailey for granted in the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, so too do we fail to give thanks to those that we lean on every day in the workplace.

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.

During a time where the end of the year is fast approaching, employees rush to get projects completed, and planning for next year has already begun, it's important to take a step back and give thanks to your team. Here are a few ways you can show your team some love and appreciation this holiday season:

1. Tell them

Okay, this is an obvious one, but you'd be surprised at how rare it is for managers to express gratitude to their team.

The best part? Thanking your employees is 100% free. Even a simple Slack message can be integrated into your daily or weekly routine.

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 2 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."

Check out this awesome TED Talk on prioritizing happiness in the workplace:

2. Let them leave early or work remotely

31% of Americans describe the holiday season as “frantic.” With an abundance of holiday parties and familial obligations, what’s billed as a season of merriment may not be so merry after all. Sure, work still needs to get done and deadlines must be met, but allowing your team a half-day or even time to work from home could be a significant stress reliever for some. What better way to give thanks than to relieve stress for your team?

3. Recognition gamification

Gamification” refers to the use of game-like elements, including progress and rewards, to inspire engagement. It plays to our subconscious desires to socialize and achieve goals, and has proven to be a major work motivator.

Wrike recently implemented, a peer recognition system. Employees get a monthly allowance of points to gift to teammates who have helped them get stuff done. Within three months, engagement in this program was at a whopping 90%!


4. Make their lives easier

Remember when we said that the holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year? The good news is that alleviating this stress can be as simple as making your teams’ lives easier. Try giving thanks through an expenses-paid car wash, massage, or to-go meal. Your team (and their significant others) will thank you for it!

Services like Spiffy offer on-demand car washing services, and there are plenty of other options depending on your area. For massages, try incorporatemassage or search for local services. Heck, if you’re feeling adventurous, take your team out for a goat yoga session to help them zen out.

5. Give them a (thoughtful) gift

Gifts are a no-brainer when it comes to giving thanks, but any old gift card won’t do; It's been proven that employees prefer recognition over money. Instead, opt for a more personal gift. What are their hobbies? What do they aspire to be?

A great option is to grab a paperback book centered around their interests or personal improvement. That shows an interest in their personal life, while also showing you care about their growth.

Something a little more, well, little is a gift from Lea Redmont at Leafcutter Designs, who sells adorably pint-sized letters and packages in a wide variety of styles. Her creations are sent with a tiny magnifying glass!


If you’re not digging tiny letters, then Fiverr can be your go-to for unique, personalized gifts with an endless number of freelancers at your disposal, offering services from talking puppet videos to watercolor pet portraits.

6. Award a team trophy

Nothing fuels a sense of camaraderie better than an inside joke among coworkers. Creating a personal, funny, and eye-catching trophy is a great, low-cost way to recognize teammates for small achievements. It’s also a great way to spark the competitive drive in your team, especially when accompanied by team-building games.

Make sure the trophy stands out and plays to your teams’ sense of humor. Our marketing team just snagged one recognizing the Wrike G.O.A.T (Greatest of all time)!


If you want to give thanks to your team for more Wrike-centric accomplishments, check out these Wrikie awards certificates from the University of Notre Dame.

7. Treat them to lunch

Having trouble finding a personal gift or funny trophy or writing a heartfelt card? Maybe it’s time to go back to the basics. If you’re having a hard time finding unique ways to give thanks to your team, perhaps you haven’t really gotten to know them in the first place.

A genuine, 1-on-1 lunch may seem like a minor gesture, but it’s the start of forging a closer relationship with your team. They’ll appreciate the time you took to get to know them, and in turn, you’ll have ample opportunity to touch base with them on how they’re doing.

Interested in going the extra mile? Have a personal chef come to the office and cook a 5-star meal. Want to tap into the team-building energies of making a meal together? Try a group cooking class. Wrike’s marketing team recently visited Savory Kitchen in San Jose, California, and had an awesome time!

8. Pay for their continuing education

Growth and job satisfaction go hand in hand, which is why offering education stipends can be a huge way to thank your team and your organization as a whole. Millennials are especially appreciative of this gesture, and funding continuing education can pay in dividends to your bottom line.

If this just isn’t in the budget, try offering compensated memberships to an online service like Skillshare, so your team can continue to develop their hobbies and passions outside of work.

9. Give back to others in need

Sometimes, in the excitement and stress of the holiday season, we forget the “give” in giving thanks. Doing work for a charity or nonprofit can do wonders for the community, while getting your team away from their desks. Check out JustServe to find project ideas tailored to your area.


How do you give thanks to your team?

Share your ideas in the comments below!