The holiday season brings the possibility of great joy for employees – and the opportunity to do great things for your business at the same time. The actions you take to foster excited, engaged employees always bring pay back for your organization. (What goes around, comes around.) These twenty tips will make the holiday season joyful for employees who in turn use their engagement and motivation to do great things for your customers.
Holiday Celebration Ideas
Offer employees alternatives or additions to an expensive office party with dinner, drinks and dancing. Your employee activity committee – you do have an employee activity or morale committee? – can plan engagement building events.
- Consider an ugly holiday sweater day on which employees wear gaudy, delightful holiday sweaters and pose for group pictures.
- A cookie day brightens everyone’s holidays. Interested employees bring plates of cookies and everyone gets to sample and ooh and ah. (The company buys some, too.) And, you can even sponsor a cookie swap in which employees trade plates of cookies to have a variety at home.
- Provide a holiday lunch that highlights holiday foods such as turkey, stuffing, and Christmas cookies.
- A Secret Santa swap brings inexpensive presents to delight participating employees.
Establish Holiday Traditions in the Office
Establish traditions in the office for the holidays. Employees look forward to traditions and talking about workplace traditions is story telling that builds your culture and reputation as an employer of choice.
- Make up an annual special employee-featured holiday card to send to clients, customers, and business partners.
- Treat employees to an annual Christmas Eve luncheon, at a location that features games and things to do for families, and shut the office down at noon, so that everyone can attend the event.
- Hold a holiday luncheon onsite to promote team building and interdepartmental cooperation and understanding. Use ice breakers such as assigned groups via numbers on the bottom of plates to ensure that cross functional interaction occurs.
- Foster team building and gentle competition by giving gift cards to employees who decorate their work station or work area in a holiday theme – or have coworkers vote for the best.
- Like Zappos, publish an annual culture book in which every employee can make a statement about his or her sense and experience of your organization’s culture. Use the books for recruiting, relationships with customers, interns, and guests.
Purchase Gifts for Employees
Accompany the gift with a personal note of thanks from the manager (best) or a personalized thank you note from the company. Employees appreciate and save these notes for years and post them in their work stations for a constant reminder. Consider these gifts.
- A frozen turkey or a fresh ham, holiday pies, cookie assortments, and gourmet treats, while often maligned by the uninformed, are especially appreciated by employees if they can be picked up at the employee’s regular grocery store (or delivered to the workplace)
- Fine pens, jackets, leather notebooks, brief cases, lunch kits, weather radios and sweaters with the company logo are examples of gifts that delight employees. Please, no mugs, t-shirts, or other inexpensive offerings are appropriate for the holiday season.
Honor Diversity for the Holidays
Remember that not every employee exchanges Christmas cards for the holidays. The days that are celebrated by diverse employees are many in December and January. You want to honor and celebrate employee diversity.
- Take care not to schedule important celebrations to conflict with the holidays of various religions or nationalities.
- Serve food at events that allows any employee, with any beliefs, to participate. Always provide a vegetarian option.
- While it’s okay to say, “Merry Christmas,” keep most office celebrations secular to honor diverse beliefs. Look for ways to note the celebration days of religions other than Catholicism and Christianity. You can extend a card, a gift or a thank you note to honor diverse employee celebrations, remembrances, and religious events.
- Consider offering floating holidays to meet the needs of diverse employees for holiday time off.
- Ask employees with diverse beliefs to share how holidays are celebrated or noted in their country of origin or how they practice their beliefs currently. A brown bag lunch or company meeting serves as a vehicle for employees to share – not just during the holiday season but all year long.
Show Employees That You Care by How You Start the New Year
Welcome the end of the year and the start of a New Year with events and employee activities that set the stage for a happy, prosperous New Year for both your employees and your business.
- Encourage goal setting at both the individual and departmental level. Employees need to see where their job and goals fit in the bigger picture. Keep the atmosphere positive, uplifting, and forward looking. Maybe a lunch or cocktail hour to celebrate the goals and prospects for the New Year is in order the first or second week of January.
- Review your mission, vision, and values or guiding principles at the departmental level to ascertain that all employees are on the same page. Do it as a group and ask ice breaker questions such as: what does that guiding principle mean for you and for your job? Which of our values are most important to you and why?
At a holiday party, everyone was assigned to a table for the buffet lunch, and then, with an amazing pile of pipe cleaners – have you seen the array available from craft stores these days? – we were asked to build an object together at the table. You could do something similar and ask each table to build an object that portrays the organization’s mission, goals, values or guiding principles.
- Post welcome and commitment notes signed by all of your employees that set out the company’s desired relationship with customers on your website, mail them to customers and clients, and so forth – then live it. Make the publication of the notes a ceremony internally to foster employee commitment to the pledges.
The holiday season is a joyous opportunity to tell your employees and your coworkers that you care about them. Don’t let this golden opportunity to build employee morale and appreciate employee contributions pass you by. Your abundance will overflow to bolster your relationships with your customers and clients.
Seize the opportunities inherent in the season to delight employees and cement positive business relationships that will last all year – and for many years.