An Office Thanksgiving: 7 Ways to Show Employees You are Thankful for Their Work

img_4130The start of the holiday season is upon us. In just about a week we will gather with family and friends and gobble down as much turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing as our belly will allow. We will enjoy each other’s company and be thankful for many things. We know how to celebrate with our family but what about our work family? What are we thankful for in the office? How can we show our employees we are thankful for them?

You and your staff have worked hard during this year and are starting to look forward to the holiday break. Before cooking the turkey and hitting the Black Friday sales, take inventory of what your office should be thankful for this time of the year. Ask for input from employees. Make it an office community activity. Most importantly, don’t forget to thank your employees! While free turkeys are great, here are some other ways to show your fellow workers you are grateful for them and all they do.

Tell Them! It sounds so simple and it is, but everyone likes to know they are appreciated! You can write a card, send out and email, or give them a pat on the back. Just say Thank You!

Give a Small Gift: Again, this can be super simple, maybe it’s a gift card for gas or coffee, or a catered lunch or surprise dessert bar.

Celebrate Accomplishments and Milestones: Have employees who have been furthering their education and earned new degrees or certifications? What about those in the office who have gotten engaged/married or had a child? Take time to congratulate them; be thankful for their accomplishments and new beginnings.

Have an Office Thanksgiving! This is the time of year we loosen our belt buckles and share meals together. Take time to relax; celebrate as a work family for all the things you are grateful for as an organization.

Give Them Time Off: It’s a busy time of year. If possible, be flexible with employee schedules and let them take the time they need with their families. Take it from a former retail worker, breaks during the holiday are needed and greatly appreciated.

Donate on Their Behalf: Many employees burn the candle at both ends, working to support their family during the day, then working to help others in their free time. Show you are grateful for their hard work and sacrifice by donating to their cause.

Relax the Dress Code: Within reason, say thanks for your great work by letting employees let their hair down and relax while continuing to be productive.

What are you and your organization thankful for this year? How do you show employees they are appreciated and you are grateful for their hard work? Let us know what we’ve missed.

Most importantly have a great Thanksgiving and eat as much turkey and pie as you can!

How to Cope with Stress During the Holiday Season

October has passed and the days are getting shorter and shorter. For the last month or so Christmas displays have been slowly occupying more space at retailers. The holiday season is upon us. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or so the old song goes, but it can also be the most stressful time of the year. On top of our already busy schedules we are all preparing for the festivities, visiting family and friends, and shopping (oh so much shopping). This is the time of year that retailers begin to see a profit (hence Black Friday), and other industries are working to wrap up projects before heading into the new year. With all of this going on it’s easy to become stressed. During what is marketed as the most joyful time of the year, how can we best cope with stress during the holiday season?

 What is Stress and What Causes It?

5242760927_cc8f6ca24d_bGood Question! Stress is very difficult to define because it can differ from person to person. What may cause one person great anticipation and agitation, can cause little to no effect on others. Public speaking is a common stressor for many people, however for some speaking in front of others is enjoyable and easy.

The National Institute of Mental Health gives this explanation of stress;

“Stress can be defined as the brain’s response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived.”

There are also good stressors. Good stress or eustress is caused by beneficial emotions like excitement and in anticipation of positive events like riding a roller coaster or preparing for a big date. During the holiday season there is a lot of eustress around as well. If you are like I am, preparing your home for family visits or the excitement of decorating the Christmas tree are things you look forward to this time of year.

So what causes stress? Again, that’s a rough question to answer as it varies from person to person. There are some common stressors though, especially during the holidays, like money, family, time management issues. The American Psychological Association put together a report in 2006 outlining how holiday stressors impact us; of those interviewed for the report 85% stated that lack of time is their greatest cause of stress during the this time of year.


Again, each person will react to stress differently; but, by being able to identify the symptoms of stress we can either learn to avoid what triggers such a response and how to best cope with it. According to the Mayo Clinic here some of the most common symptoms of stress are:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Overeating or under-eating
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal

Coping Methods

If you start to notice you are exhibiting some of the symptoms above you can combat those feelings by using some of these coping methods:

  • Take time to breathe: During the holidays we can feel like there is not enough time to get all of our tasks done and lose ourselves in the throngs of fellow shoppers at the store. By taking a moment to just breathe and center yourself you can renew your focus and conquer your tasks.
  • Exercise: If you are feeling frustrated and restless work off your anger and excess energy by working out. My go to activity during stressful times is running. It gives me time to myself and I literally run off my stress. If you aren’t up for a heavy cardio session or the weather isn’t cooperative, think about yoga (you can do some breathing during this too), or walking on the treadmill.
  • Treat yourself: You’ve spent all day shopping for others grab yourself something nice, maybe some nice comfy PJs to snuggle up in later. Or, maybe you need some you time, pick up a candle/bubble bath in your favorite scent and take a bath that will soothe your aching muscles.
  • Make time for yourself and for sleep: This time of year the days grow shorter (don’t forget to move those clocks back this weekend!) and our lists of tasks grow longer. As you are running around completing your to-do list, make sure you pencil in time for yourself to relax and prepare for sleep. If you can set aside at least a half an hour before bed to unwind. Make sure this time does not include your cell phone or computer where you can be distracted by work, or holiday project planning.
  • Take time to laugh: Though sometimes our friends and family can be the cause of our stress, they can also help us cope with it. During this busy time take the time to actually enjoy your company and have a good laugh. That’s what this season is about anyways, fellowship and joy!

Don’t let the stress of the coming holiday season get to you. Remember to take time to breathe and enjoy those around you. This time of year is about togetherness more than it is about the present and decorations.

Did we miss anything? What stresses you out most during this time of the year, and how do you deal with it? Please share with us!

Office Etiquette: Halloween

As we reach the end of October things are starting to get spooky. Halloween is approaching and many of your coworkers may be ready to get into the holiday spirit. Halloween in the workplace can get a bit frightening if you’re not sure of Halloween office etiquette. Whether your workplace has an official Halloween celebration, or you like to bring the celebration to your own workspace, you should probably switch out your sexy pizza costume, for a more work appropriate peanut butter and jelly costume this year.

Halloween costumes for work

Since sexy costumes are out of the question, you may be asking yourself if it’s okay to put together something scarier. Experts suggest that a good rule of thumb is to skip the mask, excessive fake blood, or anything exceptionally gory in the workplace. This is mainly for safety purposes. It is best for the working environment if your coworkers can see your face, and know that you aren’t really hurt or in danger at work.

So you want to try out a new recipe you saw on Pinterest and bring some creepy treats into the office this year? Keep in mind regular office etiquette when it comes to bringing food into your workplace. Do you have a place to store the food safely? Also, try to be considerate of those with allergies by either avoiding the reaction causing ingredients or, at least, by adding a warning to your dish so that they can avoid it if necessary.

Most importantly, remember that you are at work! Unfortunately, a celebration isn’t a reason to avoid your work for the day. Don’t ignore your phone, e-mail, or other responsibilities just because you’re feeling spirited. You’re boss will still know which witch, ghost, or werewolf was responsible for your work, and why it didn’t get done. This could jeopardize future holiday celebrations for everyone!


Does your workplace have a Halloween party? Do you have a costume chosen for this year? Let us know in the comments!

3 Organization Tips for the Fall

“The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can’t but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching.” — Enya

As summer comes rapidly to an end, many welcome fall with pumpkin festivals, haunted houses, and road trips to see the vibrantly colored trees as they shed their leaves and get ready for winter. Like the trees, many of us could use this time to ready ourselves for the winter by shedding our old habits and introducing new ways of organization for the end of the year.

bench-560435_960_720Set winter goals

Maybe you set goals this summer to go on vacation, unplug when you’re out of the office, or get your ideal beach body. Whether you met your summer goals or not, reset for the fall. You can get a jump start on your New Years Resolutions, define new career goals, or set goals for the holiday season.

Clean out your e-mail (or text messages)

As you spend more time inside this season, you may find that you are looking for a project or two. Take this time to go through your e-mails or text messages and get rid of what is bogging your inbox down. Answer messages to friends or acquaintances you’ve been putting off, make a lunch date, or just follow up and check in.

Take time to relax

Many of us have a bad habit of rushing. Rushing to meetings, rushing to dinner, to the forest-road-1345751_960_720gym, or to appointments. Take a step back this fall and take some time to relax. The summer is typically viewed as a time for vacations and relaxation, but you can’t forget to take some time during other seasons as well. Relaxation can make you happier, healthier and more productive.

These are three tips that can not only be used in the fall to reset yourself, but can be used every time the seasons change. Do you have any fall organization tips that you follow? Let us know!

Let’s Talk About Labor Day!

We all look forward to the first weekend in September, the kids have just gone back to school and everyone needs a break from their new hectic routine. While relaxing this Monday, take a minute to reflect on and honor the history of Labor Day.


A Brief History

Labor Day, observed on the first Monday of September, is a celebration of the achievement and contribution of American workers. Labor Day was declared a federal holiday in 1894, but the tradition goes back a little further to the Industrial Revolution.

During the early days of the Industrial Revolution, 12-hour workdays were common, as well as seven-day workweeks. In some states, children as young as 5 would be working in dangerous positions for long hours. As time went on, workers in these conditions became more vocal about their rights and needs, they would organize strikes and protests to make their voices heard.

On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history. This event planted the seed that became Labor Day, states around the U.S. began to recognize the “workingmen’s holiday” and eventually Congress declared it to be an official holiday.

Ways to Celebrate

Attend a parade!

Take some time to relax and honor yourself and others who are contributing to American achievement. Many union workers and other laborers march in parades recognizing the history and significance of Labor Day.

Learn the history!

Dive deep into the history and learn more about the history of workers in America. You will develop an understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices American’s have given up in order to ensure the progress of the nation.

Expand your knowledge!

Read up on current worker’s issues. Some of these may apply to you or those that you know. Minimum wage, support for teacher’s, and wage theft are just a few topics to get you started. Make sure to read many viewpoints and form your own opinion on these topics.

How will you be celebrating this Labor Day? Leave some ideas in the comments!


America on the 4th of July: The Freedoms We Have!

As American as apple pie…or maybe as #Merica as requesting “Free Bird” at the bar; there are a lot of things that are unique to being American. This 4th of July we will celebrate the 240th birthday of our nation. We are a special group of individuals. There are many things that we as Americans can do that those living elsewhere can’t. In honor of the 4th of July, let’s explore things that cannot be done in other countries and are uniquely American.

korean war memorial dc

Baby Names: Have a baby on the way? Want to take a page out of Hollywood’s book and name your child something creative like Apple or SssT (Forrest)? You couldn’t if you live in Denmark. Denmark has very strict rules on what a child can be named or, even how a name can be spelled. The government even has an approved list of about 7000 names parents can pick from.

Ketchup: If you are from Pittsburgh you know there’s only one ketchup, and that’s Heinz. If you go to France there is no ketchup…well, at least not in their cafeterias. The country has banned ketchup of any kind in school cafeterias (expect one day a week) to help preserve french food culture. Here you can put ketchup on anything especially french fries.

Hair: I once had my hair colored a deep red, almost burgundy. I’ve also had it cut super short where it could be spiked in the back. Now I just color it a dark brown. However, if I lived in another country I may not be able to change up my look so much. I definitely wouldn’t be able to dye my hair lilac like or icy blonde like many celebrities are doing now. In North Korea they have select hair styles you can choose from; and in Iran you can’t be business in the front and party in the back since they’ve banned mullets.

Gum: Now, we’ve all been disciplined at least once for chewing gum in school; but what about as an adult? In Singapore chewing gum was once illegal. In the past years they’ve eased up on the rules. You can now chew sugar free gum, but only if you have a prescription.

Travel: How many times have you been planning a trip and had to worry about whether your passport will get you there? Probably not many I would think. The U.S. has the 4th most powerful passport in the world. We can travel to most destinations without needing a travel visa. Afghanistan has the least powerful passport in the world. Citizens from Afghanistan can only travel to 24 countries visa free.

Freedom of Speech/Internet Access: As Americans we are quite proud of our Freedom of Speech and our access to information. Here you can express yourself (within reason, you still can’t yell “bomb” on a plane) without the government knocking down your door for expressing a dissenting opinion. We have uncensored internet assess. An IP address originating from America has access to pretty much any website. In China things are different. Internet censorship in China is huge. In order to control information and to ensure that information and opinions that differ from governments are approved messages, the internet in China is tightly controlled and patrolled.

Things That Are Uniquely American

Displaying the American Flag: Now especially, you cannot drive down the road without seeing an American flag in someone’s yard. In other countries, though, IMG_3882you normally only see it displayed on government buildings. In America, you see the flag everywhere.

Tipping: As a former waitress I find this interesting. Tipping is something that is pretty unique to America; and it confuses the heck out of foreigners (I may have been stiffed a time or two because of this). In many countries like Japan it is actually an insult to tip.

Sweet Tea: Looking at you southern states…

College Sports: Other countries don’t understand how college athletes especially college football players get so much celebrity status in the states. In other countries college sports are looked at as an “extra-curricular activity;” in America college sports get nearly as much coverage and bring in as much revenue pro-sporting events.

Muscle Cars: Need I say more?

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Without sounding too cliche; I am proud to be an American. Our country is special, unique, and influential in many ways. As you celebrate this Fourth take time to remember our history and thank those who have served and helped shaped the country we live in today.

Did we miss anything? What else can you think of that makes America stand out as a country?

Happy 4th of July! 

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Best Places to Work in PA and Celebrations


Before we talk about the festivities we enjoyed last weekend, we have a some very exciting news! We are proud to announce that ABG Capital ranked on the Best Companies Group’s 2015 Best Places to Work in PA list for the fifth year in a row! We are so excited and proud to be number 16 on the list of small to medium sized Pennsylvania companies! The Best Companies Group compiles the rankings by sending out a survey to employers and employees in hundreds of companies in the commonwealth. Using a formula, they score the surveys based on the answers to the questions. Employers fill out their survey listing the perks, benefits and offerings that they feel showcase the best parts about their company and employees fill out a separate survey with satisfaction-based questions. We are honored to be ranked so high on this list of innovative workplaces. Now that we got to toot our own horn for a second, let’s get into what really matters: helping during the holidays and, of course, partying.

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6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Stress

Raise your hand if you’re excited about the holidays approaching. The family, the food, the friends, the good will towards men… I’d also ask you to raise the other hand if you’re stressed about it, but then most likely you’d have both hands in the air and not be able to scroll to read this post. The packing and traveling to get to the family, your tendency to always end up in the wrong grocery store line, the picking and choosing which friends you have time to see and someone inevitably feeling left out, and the Black Friday near tramplings at 3 am… So put your hands down and let’s talk about how to avoid holiday stress.

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How to Keep Your Sanity During Holiday Travel

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And the most stressful time to travel. The holidays are right around the corner, but if your friends and relatives aren’t then you’re probably going to find yourself in or on a plane, train or automobile to join your loved ones.

Just last week, a few of us were sitting around remembering the days when airline travel was a special event. People dressed up to take a ride on an airplane. There were fancy drinks, in-flight movies, and full meals were served on flights where baggage was included in the cost of your ticket. Now, flying feels more like a process to endure rather than an event to enjoy. Luckily, we here at ABG Capital are experienced travelers and we’ve gathered a list of tips that should make your holiday travels a little less stressful. We’ll tell you how to keep your sanity during holiday travel!

Suitcases packed for holiday travel I ABG Capital Blog

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