Many plan for friends and family to gather this week for the annual Thanksgiving meal.

Some employees must work on Thanksgiving Day, including health care professionals, first responders and retail employees. But many workers enjoy the time away from their jobs.

Even though this is a week for many workers to take a break and get ready for the holidays, employers should actively take stock of their blessings this year in particular.

Here are five reasons why.

• The economy is strong: This isn’t a political statement – it’s a factual one. The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a milestone on Nov. 15 by passing the 28,000 threshold for the first time.

Virginia's jobless rate fell to 2.6% in October. This means that most employers have enough to work to hire more people.

A good economy is good for business, and thus good for workers.

• Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charges are down: We don’t have the statistics yet for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, but in the prior fiscal year the EEOC reported a 9.3% decrease in overall charges of discrimination filed with the federal agency.

This means employees are feeling better about their work environment and less compelled to seek help from the federal agency charged with enforcing federal discrimination laws.

In addition, the EEOC found “cause” to determine that employers violated federal discrimination laws in just 3.4% of the cases it took to resolution. Employers are doing a better job of training managers and employees and are enforcing their policies against discrimination.

• Five generations of talent. Five generations are employed in the workplace, including the Silent Generation (born before 1945), baby boomers, millennials, Generation X and Generation Z. By 2020, millennials are expected to comprise 50% of the workforce worldwide.

This presents a unique opportunity to build from a multi-generational workforce. Value and develop all your workers, and tap into the unique talent and experience from all workers.

• Work is cool again. While some bemoan the new advances in technology, employers should welcome the flexibility and opportunity that technology presents. We are no longer in a one-size-fits-all experience.

Flexible work schedules, telework, open plan environments all present new opportunities on how we work, when we work and where we work. Employers should be tapping into these unique opportunities that will enable today's workforce to work in a way that meets the employer and employee needs.

• Diverse workplace is a strength: In today’s workforce, employers should give thanks that diversity thrives in most workplaces, with a variety of languages, nationalities, genders, familial status, sexual orientation and the like. Employers should be thankful that employees feel welcome in their workplace house.

Empowering employees to be themselves and bring their diverse talent has propelled today’s workplace to evolve. And with low unemployment, employers are wise to make sure their workplace is welcome opportunity for all talent.

On this Thanksgiving, employers have a unique opportunity to appreciate the evolving workforce and capitalize on these opportunities.

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Karen Michael is an attorney with Richmond-based KarenMichael PLC. She can be reached at kmichael@karenmichaelconsulting.com.

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