Talent   //   November 22, 2023  ■  11 min read

Here’s what workers are thankful for this holiday season

As Thanksgiving approaches, workers paused to take a step away from the daily grind of hitting deadlines, attending meetings, and answering emails to reflect on what they are grateful for this holiday season.

Despite the challenges that often come hand in hand with work, like the potential of burning out and struggling to nail a work-life balance, there are silver linings that keep people excited to show up at work. Workers are thankful for the moments of triumph, the collaborative sparks that ignite creative projects, and the supportive colleagues who become allies in the daily battles against routine. They’re grateful for flexibility, remote work, and new challenges to tackle.

We asked workers from all levels and industries to tell us what they are thankful for this season, which also helps paint a picture of what workers continue to care about in the workplace and what makes one company stand out from another and retain employees. Here’s what they had to say.

Answers have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Supportive colleagues

“I’m grateful for the support from my leaders and team during a challenging time for my family’s health. As a primary caregiver, my team has been flexible, supportive, and understanding of the challenges I’m facing outside of work and it eases a lot of anxiety I faced when this challenge first arrived.” – Maritza Navar-Lopez, media relations specialist, Walker Sands

“This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for co-workers I can go to for help. As a product marketer, I’m expected to be an expert on our customers, prospects, products, and competitors. It can feel overwhelming at times, but when I’m surrounded by smart, supportive people, I don’t feel as stressed or alone.” – Molly Murphy, senior product marketing manager, Customer.io.

“I’m grateful for workplace besties-at both current and old roles-to support each other through the tough times. With the B2B recession, I have a group of three friends in a group chat. We worked together 8 years ago and still to this day, talk every day. Right now of the three of us, I’m the only one who wasn’t let go in a mass layoff this month (and that’s because I’m a full-time freelancer whose business has also been hit). Having these friends where we can support each other – even when our old companies can’t or won’t – provides an emotional safety that can get us through anything. I am so grateful we can encourage each other, share memes, and laugh at the hard times.” – Kristen Van Nest, writer.

“I am privileged to work alongside an amazing team of talented individuals who share our values and goals and where we all feel like we belong. Providing opportunities for my professional growth and the enhancement of my knowledge. Encouraging the exploration of new approaches to various PR activities and the development of valuable hard skills.” – Khrystyna Savchuk, senior PR manager, OBRIO.

“I’m thankful for the regular feedback sessions I have with my co-workers and execs every couple of weeks. So many issues were resolved, communication became much more clear, and I feel like it increased the bond with teammates. It really boosts my motivation to put more effort into work. I think it’s very valuable, especially when our company is remote-first.” – Olena Yehorova, head of marketing, Jobgether.

“I am thankful to have a leadership team that isn’t afraid to disagree with each other because we know this makes us better as an organization and challenges us to do more. I am thankful to be able to learn from my colleagues every day, regardless of their title. I am thankful to work with some of the most innovative brands in finance. And most importantly, I am thankful to be a part of an inclusive, rewarding agency that always sets a higher standard.” – Ishviene Arora, co-founder and president, Vested.

Global and remote workforces

“I’m thankful to work at a global company; I interact with people from different countries, native languages, and time zones. Even if 7 a.m. meetings can be challenging every day, they teach me new things I didn’t know I needed, like geography(!) and how to connect differently when facing barriers. All of this has increased my exposure to the irritating problems we have in the U.S. while my work-life balance continues to positively benefit from working with non-U.S. coworkers and their policies.” – Kayla Cash, global PR manager, SoftServe.

“I’m incredibly grateful to be part of a dynamic global team. Whether it’s troubleshooting issues with a coworker in Italy in the morning, reviewing newsletters with one in Uruguay in the afternoon, or spending my evenings content planning with my team in Canada, it’s like a virtual passport through Zoom and Slack to cultural experiences worldwide. Every day is an exciting adventure.” – Lacey Budd, director of content, Customer.io.

“I’m grateful for TigerEye’s co-founders, for recognizing the diverse needs of our team by continuing to believe in remote work. This forward-thinking policy saves us from soul-crushing commutes and affords us all — parents or not — greater freedom for family (given or chosen), hobbies, and self-care, ultimately making us more effective professionals.” – Kristina Milian, vp communications and marketing, TigerEye.

“Before joining Apartment List, I was in an industry where I was lucky if I could spend one holiday a year with my family. I was always in the office. Now at Apartment List, where we are virtual first with unlimited FTO [flexible time off], I can see my family as often as I need to. My parents will be in town for Thanksgiving this year and I can spend the entire time with them without distractions.” – Erin Giddens, communications associate, Apartment List.

“I am thankful for getting to meet with at least one person outside of my region or country every day. It encourages me to keep a global view and learn more about other cultures.” – Katherine Soto Scott, associate HR business partner, BigID.

Strong leaders focused on DE&I

“I’m thankful that inclusive leadership has become a pillar of organizational success. Today, leaders are becoming more intentional when it comes to fairness, equity, and belonging, and I’m grateful to have supportive partners to help reshape the boundaries of leadership as we collectively work to build a workforce where every voice is heard.” – Donnebra McClendon, global head of DEI, Ceridian.

“I’m thankful to work with an amazing group of kind humans that have been unwavering in their commitment to supporting equity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace. I’m especially grateful to those who have been brave enough to stand up and speak out against the recent acts of antisemitism in America and abroad, and most of all I’m proud to work in a company that supports and champions the free expression of all its employees to show up and bring all of who they are into everything they do. I’ll take this over free pizza any day.” – Laura Jones, chief strategy officer, BAV Group.

“I am thankful for Intuit’s commitment to creating a workforce that is as diverse as the communities we serve, where all of our employees experience the company as a place where they can do the best work of their lives.” – Humera Shahid, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer and vp of talent development at Intuit.

“I am thankful to be employed at a place where I can be authentically me. I am thankful that this is the first time in my career I don’t have to ask myself “Should I not wear this Spanish language t-shirt?” or “Will they judge me for wearing my big gold hoop earrings?” or “Should I not play this Spanish language song at the all-company meeting this week?” I am thankful that I am not straddling the nuances of being a proud Latina in corporate America. I am thankful to be employed at a place that celebrates the uniqueness of my culture. I am thankful I get to be me.” – Gabby Leung, vp of HR, My Code.

Comfy and fun offices

“I’m thankful for an old (I don’t think you can buy it anymore) but very comfortable Herman Miller chair at the VMLY&R office. I tested so many chairs during the WFH/pandemic era and nothing compared. As our offices reopened, the sight of that chair became a symbol of returning to a sense of normalcy, accompanied by the familiar faces of colleagues in the heart of Kansas City — a reassuring blend of comfort and connection that transcends the merely physical aspects of a piece of furniture.” – Leah Sand, executive director, VMLY&R.

“I am grateful for the special touches that cultivate a strong sense of community that binds us together. Engaging in events like our monthly movie nights, team lunches, and the lively Halloween dress-up contest offers special opportunities for fostering camaraderie and unleashing creativity. The flavorful experiences from our potlucks and taco truck events further enhance our shared connections.” – Hannah Shahriyari, director of sales, GeoLinks.

“Our employees shouted out their appreciation for the in-office pinball machine for fostering moments of mental clarity, a prized cafe table that offers a breathtaking view of the Austin skyline, the warmth of portable heaters, a colleague’s daily horoscope sharing ritual, and an abundant supply of Ito En green teas stocked in the fridges.” – Maggy McGloin, PR manager, Auctane.

“The sense of community and culture on our team is at an all-time high right now. It’s been a push and pull year with markets and all the tough global news and it’s really a blessing to have the momentum and great team energy going into 2024. People stay late in the office to work and to just hang out with each other. The team will stay in the office sometimes until 10 p.m. just to hang out and play video games together after work.” – Geoff Renaud, co-founder and CMO, Invisible North.

Meeting flexibility

“I’m thankful for the flexibility of meetings at my job; if I feel too bogged down with work and I feel like a meeting is going to throw me off, I’m more than usually welcome to skip and get the download from a colleague.” – Ali Moore, PR and communications consultant, CMAND.

“I’m grateful that I can show up authentically every day. At Workhuman, I’m trusted to do my best, and that comes with an understanding that ‘my best’ may look different sometimes. If I had a rough night with the kids, I don’t feel the need to hide that I might feel like a shell of a human the next morning. My exhaustion that day is met with empathy and compassion, not with judgment.” – Lauren van Duyn, recruitment manager, Workhuman.

Benefits packages that go a long way

“I’m thankful for HR teams who are committed to improving their employees’ health literacy and employers who believe in clear, concise and jargon-free benefits communications.” – Kim Buckey, vp, client services, Optavise.

“I’m extremely grateful for parental leave. I took four weeks to start and am planning to take the remaining 10 when my wife’s maternity leave ends next year. I know from conversations with older generations that paternity leave was barely a thing until recently. The fact that it’s not just a matter of policy, but actively encouraged at Crunchbase, means the world to me. Indeed, our chief product officer (who is my skip-level manager), told me he took every day of his leave at a previous job. Hearing this let me know that it was actually OK to take my full leave, and wouldn’t be somehow looked down on.” – Matt Schulman, senior communications manager, Crunchbase.

“One thing I am grateful for is that more and more employers are investing in strategies and initiatives designed to better support their working parents, including childcare benefits, such as tuition subsidies and backup care solutions. With skyrocketing childcare costs and the prevalence of childcare deserts, balancing caregiving and work has become an ongoing struggle, and childcare issues are affecting employee retention and recruitment, ultimately impacting the bottom line. Therefore, more employers are recognizing that childcare is not only a social issue but also an economic one and are stepping up to do more for their working families, including the frontline, hourly and essential workers.” – Jessica Chang, CEO and co-founder of Upwards.

“I’m grateful that I work at my own pace (as a night owl, it’s huge to me that I don’t have to clock in at 8 a.m.) and I have great benefits – even my dentist was surprised at how good our insurance is. My favorite is the $500 quarterly wellness benefit we get, which I mostly use for books and massages.” – Corina Leslie, PR Manager, ZeroBounce.

“I am thankful for organizations that recognize the need to support their employees as they make that life-changing transition from child-free individuals to working parents. When employees return to work after parental leave, they should onboard similar to a new hire: ramp up, listen and learn, set new boundaries, and focus on what work fits them at this stage of life. Organizations that support the success of new mothers in particular yield results in terms of retention, loyalty, and overcoming the gender divide in career advancement and opportunity equity. I am grateful that companies are starting to realize this is not ‘business as usual’ and are recognizing this important career milestone with coaching and support.” – Barbara Palmer, workplace coach and founder, Broad Perspective Consulting.

“I’m seeing more and more companies open up about menopause in the workplace, and I couldn’t be more grateful. How do we begin addressing disparities in women’s health if we aren’t comfortable discussing them? Providing care and coverage for all stages of a woman’s reproductive life cycle should be imperative at all workplaces, and I’m thankful it’s becoming commonplace for many. However, there’s more work to be done so all women feel supported at work – no matter their age.” – Cori Davis, chief people officer, Genentech.