Everyone talks about work-life balance and building strong teams, but sometimes maintaining good morale during the holidays can be challenging. This was especially true when I was part of a group that started a bank 15 years ago. The management was looking for ideas to improve morale as we started into the holiday season.

One thing that always seemed to make the team happy was food! So we decided to have a Thanksgiving potluck lunch at the bank. People from all areas of the bank prepared food lovingly at home and came together to sit down and share a meal, very much like they did with their families. Together, with all the warmth of home, we celebrated Thanksgiving and being truly thankful for our colleagues. Bringing team members from across departments closer together resulted in higher morale. Managers even referenced the lunch when talking about the culture to potential employees. As soon as we saw how well the Thanksgiving lunch was received, it was easy to make it an annual event. As the bank grew, so did the lunch. People loved spending time with employees from other departments with the home-cooked food and the feel of a family Thanksgiving meal.

Six years later at a different bank, a few employees from the previous bank quickly requested that we start the Thanksgiving meal. So, the tradition continued and again helped to build the team and improve morale. Every year as new employees felt others’ enthusiasm for it, the event grew in popularity. So of course, when I joined First Business in Kansas City, I asked several people if they would be interested in starting the tradition here. Our administrative team took the lead, and we held our first Thanksgiving meal this year. As always, people were excited to get involved and build an even stronger bond here within our Kansas City team. It was, of course, well received and began a strong foundation upon which we will continue to build in years to come.