Every year we appreciate things during Thanksgiving. We close our business and spend time with family and friends. Most of us have much to be thankful for.

Not long ago, I was working with the Arizona Rangers providing overnight surveillance for the South Tucson Police Department. At about 1:30 a.m., a woman in her mid 40s walked up to the gas pumps at Circle K. She wore nice clean clothes and had a professional appearance, yet something told me she had recently become homeless. She grabbed a few paper towels and dipped them into the windshield washing bucket. The bucket was filled with dirty water. She used the wet towels to give herself a sponge bath, slowly washing her arms and legs. It made me think about how good my life is, and how much I take for granted.

Whether you own a business or manage one, your employees are your greatest asset. They are directly responsible for the financial freedom you enjoy. This financial freedom creates many of the things you are thankful for.

A few years ago, I met with Ian Brannon, vice president and branch manager at Nova Home Loans. He talked about how important his employees are. The holiday bonus he gave them was one way he showed his appreciation. Then he realized the timing of the bonus was almost as important as the bonus itself. Most of his employees start incurring holiday expenses just before Thanksgiving. By the time they got their bonus in late December, they had weathered the financial storm of the holidays.

Brannon decided to give them their holiday bonus just before Thanksgiving, when they need it the most. The timing of the bonus brings more significance to Thanksgiving in his office. Brannon added, “Thanksgiving used to be just another holiday. Now we really express how thankful we are to have each other.”

How will you appreciate your employees this year?

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.