Developing a Culture of Thanks and Giving

It seems like just a couple of months ago that we left 2017, yet here we are, entering the final weeks of 2018. Is it just me, or does time just keep flying? We’ve entered “the most wonderful time of the year”, you know “tis the season” of holidays, presents, parties, family, fun, and even some stress. For some people, the holidays make to be times of discouragement or depression, the effects of having lost loved ones during this time of year, or the gnawing feeling of being alone.

This post is more of a heartfelt plea based on experience, than it is a scientific explanation as to why we should build cultures in our businesses that value Thanks, and Giving.

During this holiday season, most people feel the stress of trying to find gifts and presents for their loved ones that they can afford, and that their family will love. There is generally an expectation of dealing with the anticipation of everything that happens during the season. Family dinners with the in-laws might be great for some, but for many, it’s well… “Where’s the wine?” Then there’s the office party, which depending on a myriad of factors, can be a fun time to spend with co-workers away from the daily grind, or it could serve as just another thing you feel you have to do, when you’d rather be home drinking hot chocolate and binge watching The Santa Clause series.

Often lost in all of the festivities is what we communicate to the people who tirelessly work, all-day, everyday in our business. There is an old school way of thinking that “you get paid to do a job, so do it.” At first look, we can see that way of thinking is…true. But the thought is incomplete, and it lacks some of the context that we need to navigate today’s business in our world. Everyone who works, does get paid to do a job, and they should do it. However, today’s business relationships require a 2-way street, and it’s important that we develop a culture that supports and lifts our employees and staff.

Here are two important elements to purposefully build into your company culture:


There’s an old saying, “Babies cry for it, and grown men die for it.” What is “it”? It’s recognition, the acknowledgement of someone’s effort or performance. Quite simply, it’s a culture that says “thank you” to people for their work, sacrifice, and giving of their time and talents. But isn’t paying them well enough to say thank you? Well, isn’t marrying someone enough without having to tell them I love you again? You get the point.

But even beyond the words “thank you”, it’s important that we truly develop gratitude for the people who make up our companies. Learning to appreciate people as a whole, people who have families, kids, parents, and a multitude of challenges in life is a powerful tool that empowers both employee and employer. People have real challenges in life, and when they continue to give their best effort in their job, appreciating them for who they are, and their perseverance can be the difference in them leaving or staying. It can be tough when we remove the daily humanity of people from their status as an employee. When we can accept the whole person for all they have to deal with in life, that appreciation and gratitude for them shines through to encourage them to keep going.

It’s incredibly empowering and encouraging to know that you are appreciated in your work, and not only are you told so, but you can feel the appreciation for you being here.


So, you give your employee a salary, PTO, medical benefits, perks, training, and more. What more can you give? How about the opportunity to GIVE! According to Deloitte’s “2017 Volunteerism Survey,” nearly 9 out of 10 (89%) working Americans believe that companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment than those that do not. In fact, 70 percent of respondents say that volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours, and 77% say, “volunteering is essential to employee well-being.”

Especially in the Millennial demographic, workers want to be a part of companies that take on social responsibility in giving back. But more importantly, many workers are looking to make a difference with their time, volunteering, and helping with organizations that are impacting their community. In fact, in the above-mentioned study, only 38% of employees think that their company provides access to employee volunteer programs, with 69% saying they’re not volunteering as much as they would like to, and two-thirds stating that they cannot dedicate time during the day to volunteering.

Giving your employees an opportunity to give, permeates your culture, not only to participate in supporting causes that are important to them, but also in awareness of people in general, even co-workers. Giving of time, money, and resources to those in need is part of healing the hurting part of the human condition. Sometimes that comes from the company supporting an employee who is really struggling, and sometimes it comes in the form of the company giving its employees an opportunity and outlet to give.

As we experience this holiday season, I hope that you’ll be able to give thanks and gratitude for the great things in your life and business, while also having the opportunity to give. And may we make it the same for our employees and companies.