For Thanksgiving, Few Employers Give Workers the Bird


We checked up on employers’ 2015 holiday plans and found that lots of people get the Friday after Thanksgiving tossed in as an extra day off, but the practice of giving turkeys to workers has mostly been tossed out. 

In fact, when asked about demonstrating their gratitude at Thanksgiving, a scant 4 percent of employers responding to Bloomberg BNA's latest survey of year-end holiday practices said they’d be handing out turkeys to the members of their workforce. 

What other ways do employers show employees their appreciation? For starters, paid time off.

Four-Day Weekend

A four-day Thanksgiving weekend remains the prevailing standard in U.S. workplaces, with 71 percent of surveyed employers scheduling paid days off for both Thanksgiving Day and Friday, Nov. 27.

This practice is most prevalent in the manufacturing sector, where 85 percent of employers reported scheduling both Thursday and Friday as days off with pay.

But there’s a catch. More than one-third of the 368 respondents said their organizations will require at least a handful of employees to work on Thanksgiving. The types of employees most likely to draw holiday shifts are security and public safety workers, service and maintenance staff, and technicians, according to the survey.

For those employees who do get tapped to work on turkey day, there’s typically something extra in it for them. This can include premium pay at a rate of time-and-a-half or double-time; compensatory time off; or a combination of extra remuneration and leave time. 

According to Robert Combs, Bloomberg BNA’s Manager of Custom Research, there’s also an added bonus for employees working on the holiday. Most of them "won’t have supervisors looking over their shoulder, as less than 10 percent of organizations have management staff scheduled for work shifts on Thanksgiving," he said in a press release on the survey.

Plenty of employers find other ways to show employees some appreciation around Thanksgiving. Roughly one-fourth of those surveyed said they would distribute actual gifts or host a meal for employees, such as a luncheon or dinner.

Among those employers that hand out items to their employees, gift certificates for food are a little more common than turkeys. Other tokens of appreciation reported by the respondents include fruit, pies and cash.

As for that generous gesture of giving workers the bird, manufacturers remain bastions of magnanimity, with 17 percent of them distributing turkeys to all or most of their employees in celebration of the holiday.

Bloomberg BNA has been tracking Thanksgiving employer practices since 1980. For a complimentary copy of this year’s report, visit here . The Thanksgiving Holiday Practices Survey is also one of several reports included with the HR Decision Support Network . Start your free trial today.