Office Lessons from the First Thanksgiving Feast

 In All

Thanksgiving is a joyful celebration that resonates deeply with many Americans. It’s a uniquely American holiday that is about giving thanks for all that we have and sharing it with others. The spirit of Thanksgiving also includes having a healthy and happy work life, since most people who work together develop strong bonds — not unlike the Pilgrims and their Native friends.

We’re all familiar with the story… The first Thanksgiving took place in November of 1621, when the Pilgrims who had just arrived in what was to become the United States celebrated a meal with members of the Wampanoag Tribe in Plymouth Colony.

The small harvest the Pilgrim families brought in that fall was cause for celebration and members of the Native American tribe that helped with the harvest shared the meal with them. From those beginnings came the Thanksgiving ritual that is still joyously celebrated today.

So what does the first Thanksgiving have to do with our office life today? There are many office lessons we can learn from the first Thanksgiving feast, after all it was work that brought the new friends together. While the Pilgrims and Native Americans certainly didn’t have office buildings, or any buildings for that matter, their spirit of collaboration and hard work gives us much to reflect on.

Giving Thanks for Our Work

Though traditional Thanksgiving dinners aren’t usually celebrated at work, some workers like firefighters, police officers, and nurses have no choice – they have to work on the holiday. Thanksgiving does provide an opportunity for many people to stop and think about what work means to them. For most, showing up to work in a place where they feel valued is very important. For these people, work is much more than a paycheck. It helps to build higher self-esteem and creates a sense of being valued. Just as the Pilgrims took time to stop and give thanks for the “team” that brought them to the new land, co-workers should give thanks for the camaraderie and support that they have in the workplace together.

Many companies encourage teams to share the spirit of the holiday with others who are less fortunate, those who may be jobless or homeless for example. Sharing a giving activity together as a team really helps to foster the spirit of that first Thanksgiving feast – gratitude.

Giving Thanks for Being Part of a Team

One of the best aspects of a work environment for many people is working in a team with other people they can share ideas with and look to for support. Sharing ideas and working collaboratively are concepts based on trust, which is a quality the Pilgrims and their new friends, the Native Americans, also shared that first Thanksgiving.

There are many ways to encourage loyalty and trust between workers, including having team building exercises. One idea is to have a day away from the office where everyone talks honestly about their concerns with the company. Even taking a “time out” break once a week to have a “let your hair down” bull session where workers share ideas in a positive way can be very beneficial. In many ways, the first Thanksgiving was an example of people working together toward a common goal, but also acknowledging the need to take time out away from their work to celebrate and express gratitude.

Letting Others Know They Matter

What’s most important, really, is for employees to know that what they do for the company matters. Any way that this message can be shared and reinforced, like giving a “Great job!” announcement at company meetings, is great for building staff morale and team trust. Even hosting special events, like bowling or pizza nights as a “thank you” for employees, can be highly beneficial. Some offices hold a potluck lunch a few days or a week before Thanksgiving in order to celebrate the holiday with co-workers.

Ultimately, having a strong team is all about building trust and yes, giving thanks, just as those early Americans did that first Thanksgiving. Giving thanks for a company that cares and a successful supportive team is an important recipe that we hope you will include in your Thanksgiving festivities this year.

From everyone here at OfficeGuardian, we wish you and your families the best of the season and a very joyous Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!


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