Last week I shared my most memorable Thanksgiving. Today I want to talk about another Thanksgiving tradition I have (unfortunately, I didn't get to partake in this year).
Every year I invite people to my house for Thanksgiving dinner who don't have others to celebrate with. It can be a co-worker who isn't able to travel, or a soldier that drew the short straw and had duty during Thanksgiving. The point is that I invited people into my home to share a meal on a day where we give thanks for so many things.
Why do I feel this is important? Because I talked before about making sure your people know you care. This is a BIG step in doing that. After all, who wants to have a small microwave Thanksgiving dinner by themselves? Even if you barely know the people, wouldn't you rather spend time with them?
When you have a team who knows you care, they will work harder for you and are less likely to leave for "greener pastures." The team appreciates the extra effort (and to be honest, when was the last time you were invited to a Thanksgiving Dinner by your boss at his house?). Of course you should consider what the politics are, and whether or not your team will feel it is a "work" function rather than a thank you.
Of course, one important thing to mention, make sure your spouse is okay with the plan BEFORE you enact it. I am not sure how my wife would react if I suddenly told her 3 extra people were coming to Thanksgiving dinner the day of (I know there would be significant pain involved, however).
Now, if I had a large team (or was in charge of a plant), I would approach things a little differently. I would probably hold a raffle (anynomous, with people having to decide whether they want in or not; hey, some people travel) for my workers to attend Thanksgiving at my house (and I would invite the middle managers, with the expectation that they bring something). Additional prizes would be a couple of turkeys, and maybe an additional paid day off. That is a lot of good will that your team will appreciate (and hopefully other leaders will learn from).
In the end, don't take your team for granted, and realize that not everyone is as fortunate as others. Your generosity will not go unnoticed, and you will reap the benefits in loyalty and moral.