One of the reasons giving turkey as a gift for employees has lasted generations is due to them being the embodiment of the grateful spirit of the season.
Have ever been curious about the tradition of employee turkey gift traditions? Employers have been providing turkeys during the Thanksgiving season for nearly as long as turkeys have been a part of the dinner table.
For generations American employers have had the tradition of giving turkeys for Thanksgiving. Over time this tradition has only become more relevant. There is a reason that the New York Times referred to employee turkey gifts as a ‘ritual of the workplace’. It’s not just about saving the employee the cost of the turkey during the holiday; it’s symbolically meaningful and practical for the employer.
So as much as it is an American tradition the gift of turkey is also just smart for business.
With the new challenges businesses face in our post recession economy the relationships that are established and nurtured between employers and employees are more important than ever. Symbolic gestures like giving a turkey for Thanksgiving, or having 4th of July Company parties engender a collaborative, thankful working environment. When employees feel part of something, they show up for more than waiting for a paycheck.
When a holiday turkey is provided with a clear ‘Thank You’ from the management team, it creates employee engagement, as well as a stronger workplace culture.
How The Tradition Started
So, how exactly did America’s favorite workplace Thanksgiving gift become a turkey?
First off, turkey is a unique bird of America and it may, or may not have been in the initial Thanksgiving dinner. However, by the middle of the 1800s, it had started to develop as a traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece.
Once President Abraham Lincoln had declared a national holiday known as Thanksgiving during 1863, the turkey took off as a tradition for celebrating the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.
After this, the turkey had become a natural and iconic symbol in America that represents a bountiful harvest, as well as gratitude. The National Turkey Federation began presenting an honorary turkey to the White House during Thanksgiving by the 1940’s.
The event of sharing the turkey quickly gained popularity by companies with employees during Thanksgiving. The event of employee turkey gifts has been dated back to the boom in manufacturing in the 1800s by historians. It was used for introducing immigrant workers into American culture, and sharing holiday spirit.
There were also companies that conducted the practice of turkey gifting even when they were rationed and in short supply. In World War II, there was a company in Long Island that purchased turkey eggs, hatched them, and raised them to provide during the holiday season.
Those that adopted the tradition early on could have followed Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” that was published during 1843, with the turning point being as a ‘prize turkey’ was bought by Ebenezer Scrooge and then provided to a family as a gift.
Historians believe that employers during the 19th century were inspired by the gesture and began following the same routine. It then became a company’s iconic gift for providing holiday cheer.
Why The Tradition Continues
Turkeys are very popular, with the National Turkey Federation estimates that 46 million turkeys are consumed by Americans during the Thanksgiving season, that’s not counting the 22 million consumed during Christmas, 19 million for Easter and over 113 million for the remainder of the year.
Turkeys, More than a Meal
The tradition of sharing turkey at holidays is not just a symbol of gratitude and celebrating harvest, but as a reminder of our social connections and the significance. Because of this, turkey has become a tradition that is beloved and a great Thanksgiving dinner to share with friends and family.
Turkey is synonymous in American homes for giving thanks. Thanksgiving dinner is a way to slow down during the holiday rush, while appreciating each other. Fond memories are associated with Thanksgiving. With the iconic turkey roasting in the oven families have gathered together for centuries now, creating special memories. These memories and experiences are full of joy and belonging with being with friends and family. A yearly day set aside also helps us have gratitude for those in our history. For our younger generations Thanksgiving offers the opportunity to connect to history and understand the significance of the holiday. This means that they are more likely to continue the tradition.
The spirit of the season is embodied in the turkey, this is the reason that employee turkey gifts continue to be a tradition that has been enjoyed by generation after generation. When your employees and their families are sitting around the table, and the centerpiece is the turkey your company provided they will indeed be thankful for the season, and that gift.
Employee Turkey Gift Giving Made Easy
If you’d like to simplify your Thanksgiving turkey gift giving program take a look at PromoGroup Turkey Gift Certificates. PromoGroup Rewards certificates are easy to purchase, easy to distribute, and even easier for recipients to redeem. Certificates are accepted by virtually all grocery stores and can be used up to and on the expiration date for a purchase up to the stated dollar value you decide. We offer employers an easy way to thank their employees, customers, and corporate business partners for their efforts and loyalty.