The holiday season can be equal parts stressing and celebrating. From shopping lists, travel plans and family visits to short weeks, shorter deadlines and year-end reports, there are plenty of potential distractions for employees.
The holidays are also a great time to show your team you care through some simple employee recognition initiatives. Not only will your efforts capture the spirit of the season, but some of that good will could carry over into a strong start for the New Year.
With that in mind, here are 10 ways to thank your employees this holiday season.
Whether a company-wide "Worksgiving," a multi-cultural pot-luck or a smaller team outing, just getting away from the craziness to enjoy a meal and some work-free conversation is a low-impact expression of gratitude.
- Holiday Happy Hour
Eggnog might not be your cup of, well... But add a splash of bourbon and you've got a holiday spirit folks can get behind. Decorate a conference room or some similarly large meeting space, provide some seasonally appropriate apps and adult beverages and spread good cheer throughout your workforce. Just skip the mistletoe, because that could get awkward...
- A Personal Note
If you're going to do holiday cards, then do holiday cards. Don't just do the blanket "thanks for all you do" statement; personalize the message to each employee so it's clear leadership values each individual's contributions. Classic, simple and effective.
- Holiday Baking Contest
Either as a complement to a lunch/Happy Hour or as a stand-alone event, invite employees to bring in their best homemade holiday dessert for the chance to win a prize, like a gift card or an extra day off. Make it a blind tasting and give employees tickets to vote anonymously to keep things fair. Tables filled with sweets plus a little friendly competition and you've got a low-cost event sure to please your employees.
- An Afternoon Off
We know Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks are typically the busiest travel times of the year. (Raise your hand if you have a holiday travel horror story.) But those aren't the only times the season's hustle and bustle can be a major stressor. Say thanks to your employees by giving them an extra afternoon off this season -- to be taken at a time of their choosing with their manager's approval. This way, it can be used to get out of town a little earlier or to get to the mall or grocery store while the rest of the shoppers are stuck at work.
- Throw a Fancy Party
Looking to make a grand gesture of gratitude? Find a fun venue downtown and turn your company holiday party into a can't miss event that employees look forward to each year. Book a great band, open the bar, fill the photo booth with awesome props and your employees -- and their dates -- will get the "thanks for a great year" message loud and clear. Oh, and don't forget to reserve a room block at a hotel near the venue.
- An Extra Set of Hands
As the gig economy becomes more and more mainstream, modern families have begun outsourcing more and more of household tasks and chores. Where you would normally give an Amazon or Starbucks gift card, consider instead picking up the tab for a housekeeper, babysitter or odd-jobber to help your employees have a stress-free holiday. We'll bet the gift of an extra set of hands will make a more lasting impression than another gingerbread latte.
- Year-in-Review Tribute
Nothing like good old-fashioned recognition for your year-end employee recognition. Put together a end-of-year video celebrating major achievements and highlights from each team; show the video during your holiday party. Then, collect individual achievements for each employees and publish them in a year-end newsletter distributed to all employees so they can see the great work their colleagues did during the year. Break out the newsletter based on departments or office locations to make the project more manageable.
- Support Their Charities
Work with your employees to come up with a list of charitable organizations to support, and then make time to support them ... during work hours.
- Holiday Bonuses
Does this one even need an explanation?
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