How to Celebrate Your Employees in a Meaningful Way this Holiday Season

When it comes to blogging about workplace issues during the holidays, the focus tends to be on the potential pitfalls: office party bad behaviour, ill-timed firings, and religious intolerance. Since we ourselves have contributed to this holiday catastrophizing (see our blog post on December Dismissals), we decided to lighten the mood and focus on the positive opportunities presented to employers during this season of giving.

Although we encourage business owners to create a workplace culture where employees are regularly acknowledged and respected (learn more here), we know that many of you consider the end of the year a particularly good time to show your employees some love.

One way to do this is by giving them tangible rewards like gifts or annual bonuses, or by throwing lavish holiday parties. However, while most of us appreciate such gestures, there’s more and more evidence out there to suggest that employees prefer workplace wellbeing to material benefits. In fact, one Harvard Business Review article argued that what employees really want from their employers are intangibles like trust, enrichment, responsibility, community and contribution.

We completely agree. But how do intangibles like these translate into holiday giving? And shouldn’t employers commit to these principles on an ongoing basis, rather than offer them to employees once a year? Well, yes. Employers and employees alike deserve and benefit from a consistently positive workplace culture.

However, it’s also possible for employers to use principles like trust, community and contribution as inspiration for year-end employee recognition.

For those of you looking for meaningful ways to celebrate your employees this holiday season, we offer a few possibilities:

1. Donate company funds to a charity of each employee’s choice.
2. Sponsor a volunteer day – give your team some paid time off to volunteer in the community, either during the holidays or in the New Year.
3. At the holiday party or similar gathering, say a few (positive!) words about each individual team member and his/her unique contribution to your business.
4. Hold year-end, one-to-one meetings with your employees to seek their feedback on the last 12 months, and solicit their input for the coming year (and make sure to follow up in the New Year!).

However you decide to show your employees that they are valued and appreciated, be authentic – your employees deserve it!

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