“The first year we gave our employees a turkey at Christmas, everyone was so appreciative,” explained an owner. “The second year, around the first of December, employees asked if they were going to get a turkey again.” They did. “In Year 3, employees began asking, “When are we going to get our turkey?”
As Christmas gifts to employees, turkeys (along with pears and grapefruits) rate very high. But they rate high on the list of what not to give! Don’t misunderstand; I personally like turkeys and hams. I especially like gifted turkeys and hams, but I’ve heard numerous employees whine about their Christmas turkeys.
“Yeah, we get a turkey.”
“Last year it was pretty small.”
“Ours was frozen.”
“Ours came in late.”
“We got a coupon. I had to go to the store and pick mine up.”
But I’ve never heard, “You know we need to hurry and finish this project. In just a few more weeks, we’ll be getting a turkey.”
Why do leaders gift employees with turkeys at Christmas? If the intent is to improve morale, the act fails. Increase productivity? No chance. Preserve a tradition? Turkeys become a cost with little benefit. If the reason is to avoid angering employees over the loss of their turkey, this seems weak to me.
But if you say, “I give my employees turkeys at Christmas because the act creates a warm feeling in my heart,” I say, “Hooray!” While the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were of real material and symbolic value to the baby Jesus, I think the greater value occurred in the hearts and minds of the givers.