A Day Off on Thanksgiving: Good for Employees, Good for Marketing
Hal Conick, Marketing News
Oct. 26, 2016
Giving employees Thanksgiving Day off may mean more than just a morale boost; it could engender good feelings about a brand.
As families gather together and stuff their faces with food on Thanksgiving, many people work the day away at retailers to prepare for holiday shoppers. One long-time marketer says this could be a detriment to the company’s brand, not to mention a death knell for employee morale.
“A lot of extra work and time has gone in before then,” Ramon Avila, the George and Frances Ball distinguished professor of marketing at Ball State University, says of Thanksgiving Day. “A ton of extra work that has worn your workforce out. Now you’re going to put them into the most pressure-packed days. What better way to celebrate than to give them a day off to be with their family and help build morale a bit?”
The National Retail Federation is predicting a sales increase of 3.6% for 2016 in November and December, meaning retail sales are in a good place. Giving employees a day off could “put a little wind back in your sail,” for the shopping season, Avila says.
“I also think there are some image issues here as people look from the outside at retailers staying open and say, ‘You’re greedy, you’re making your employees work, and they should be home with their families,’” says Avila, who has taught at Ball State for 35 years, worked in customer service and consulted at retail companies.
“Retail is tough, especially during the holidays,” he says. “You watch it on TV, Facebook or YouTube and people are charging the doors when the stores open. … You see people sprinting and knocking each other over. Holy cow.”
The Future of Holiday Closure
Will more companies decide to give employees holidays off? Avila believes more retailers will close on Thanksgiving and Christmas in the next five years, pointing to the large list of shops—including Home Depot, Game Stop and REI—that plan to close this year. Even the Mall of America, the biggest mall in the U.S., is slated to close on Thanksgiving Day.
“In the near future it will continue this way,” Avila says. “I think one of the reasons you’re seeing this is because there has been some backlash and stories out there. ‘Bah humbug, why are you making your employees work on a very special day when families are together?’” is a sentiment many customers now have.
A Branding, Hiring Advantage to Holidays Off?