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Giving Thanks: Showing Gratitude to Your Employees
Tuesday, Nov 22, 2016

With the holiday season upon us, now is the time when we often reflect back and give thanks for our successes and good fortune over the course of the year. For businesses, this is a time to review company performance and achievements over the past 12 months and express gratitude to employees who helped to make it possible. In addition to spreading holiday cheer and goodwill during the season, showing appreciation to employees around the holidays also helps to boost morale and engagement to maintain a positive company culture. As 67 percent of employees cite respectful treatment as a “very important” job satisfaction contributor, the following are some creative approaches that employers can use to show gratitude during the holiday season.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Hosting a holiday meal at the office is one of the best ways to bring your staff together and let them know they are valued and appreciated. Some fun ways to do this are to host a potluck-style lunch where employees can introduce coworkers to their favorite holiday dish, or provide a more formal catered meal, so your employees won’t need to worry about preparing food and bringing it into the office. Sharing a meal together provides your staff with a break from the normal workday routine, and also presents an excellent opportunity to have some one-on-one time together to further develop interpersonal relationships. During the meal, be sure to publically acknowledge individual employees’ specific contributions to the business, as Towers Watson finds that recognizing employee performance increases engagement by almost 60 percent.

The Importance of Time

The holiday season is traditionally an extremely busy time of the year when people have to juggle gift shopping, preparing their homes for get-togethers, and coordinating travel plans, in addition to the everyday family and work responsibilities that can be just as challenging. Allowing your employees to end their workday a few hours early before a holiday can help ease their stress levels and have extra preparation time for their activities, which will go a long way in showing that you care and appreciate their efforts during the year. Additionally, a growing trend among many businesses is to be closed on Black Friday, providing staff with additional time to wrap up their gatherings or get a jump on gift shopping.

It’s the Little Things that Count

Sometimes the little things you do for employees can have the greatest impact. Giving your teams small gifts “desk-dropped” throughout the holiday season can act as a regular reminder of your appreciation for their hard work, and can also act as a tool to increase engagement and productivity while helping to enhance company culture. Some creative items to offer employees include gift cards, snacks, movie passes, or coupons for a free PTO day; the main idea is to ensure an element of surprise and continually let them know they are appreciated.

Take a Break from the Norm

Holding an off-site event during the holidays is another great way to show appreciation to your employees for a job well-done during the year. Scheduling group activities including cooking and painting classes, comedy clubs, and sporting events are all excellent ways to say thank you in addition to more standard forms of recognition. Furthermore, these activities are also great team building exercises to promote group cohesion and provide an opportunity for employees to get to know one another outside of the office. According to data from SHRM, 66 percent of all organizations have an annual company outing.

The holiday season is first and foremost a time for giving, and as the year comes to a close, it’s important for businesses to remember to give the gift of gratitude to their most important resource, their employees. Expressing thanks is such a simple act, but it can go a long way to make staff feel respected, valued, and appreciated to create a strong company culture, increase engagement and retention, and drive positive business results. For additional ideas to help you give thanks to your employees during the holidays, be sure to read our Hiring Insights article, “10 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas Your Company Should Be Using.”