The holiday season is the perfect time to spread more cheer by demonstrating to your dedicated employees how much you appreciate their efforts to help keep a well-organized business up and running.
If your leadership team is all tapped out of original gift-giving ideas for the team this year, then try one of the following ideas that 17 experts from Fast Company Executive Board highly recommend to show gratitude for the hard work your staff members continue to put in throughout the year.
1. MAKE YOUR GESTURE PERSONAL AND INCLUSIVE—DITCH ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL.
One creative idea for expressing gratitude toward staff during the holiday season hinges on making it personal and inclusive. Ditch traditions or one-size-fits-all gestures. Make the recognition personal and meaningful, showing that the bosses are in tune with their teams and are willing to create a memorable holiday experience that fosters an inclusive work culture where everyone feels valued. – Lyn Corbett, The Pivotal Group Consultants, Inc.
2. OFFER EXTRA PTO FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON AND END-OF-YEAR EMPLOYEE BONUSES.
We always try to carve out as many extra days off between Christmas and New Year’s as we can to give people as much time off as possible to spend with family, enjoy the holidays, and reenergize before we hit the new year on January 2. The second thing is to provide bonuses if the business results warrant it. Even if it’s smaller, it goes a very long way. – Martin Pedersen, Stellar Agency
3. MAIL EMPLOYEES A HANDWRITTEN THANK-YOU NOTE RECOGNIZING THEIR CONTRIBUTION.
Send each employee a note (preferably handwritten) to their home address. Thank them for their work. Be specific by citing how they positively impacted the business. Let them know you see what they’re doing and how much you appreciate the work they do and the value they bring to the organization. Handwriting shows you are making the effort and, by mailing the note home, you’re ensuring their families will share in that appreciation. – Chris Shipley, The Empathy Advantage
4. PLAN A COMPANY-WIDE EVENT TO CELEBRATE EVERYONE’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
Treat them to a nice company-wide event to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments, have fun together, and thank everyone for all their hard work throughout the year. For example, we like to have holiday parties every year and give each team member a shoutout and gifts to show our appreciation. Making sure your team feels appreciated is a key step in ensuring a successful new year. – Chalmers Brown, Due
5. PARTNER WITH EMPLOYEES TO FUND THEIR FAVORITE CHARITIES OR VOLUNTEER TOGETHER.
To show gratitude to employees this holiday season, ask them which charities they would like to see the company help this year. Then bring the employees together to either volunteer at or make a joint contribution to these organizations. This can build camaraderie while also providing a boost to the community at large. – Emily Howard, Cheetah Strategy
6. CREATE A PLAYLIST OR FUN ACTIVITY KIT.
7. COORDINATE A HOLIDAY PRIZE PARTY AND THEN OPEN GIFTS TOGETHER.
Throw a holiday prize party! We ask team members what kind of swag and prizes they want to win and then send surprise boxes in advance of a party where everyone opens the gifts together. As a distribution team, we host a virtual event that includes activities like trivia and other hands-on games we can ship to remote team members so that everyone can participate in the fun and walk away with a gift. – Geri Johnson, Next PR
8. INVITE THEM OUT FOR A CUP OF COFFEE OR TEA.
Take them to get coffee or tea. Carve time out of your and their schedule to show them you care. Share your gratitude for them while casually enjoying a coffee or tea together. Talk less about work and more about them and their family. Let them know how much you’re looking forward to working with them in the next year. – Alexander Kwapis
9. SHOWCASE A COLLAGE OF MULTICULTURAL HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS.
Few months present as many multicultural celebrations as December, from Christmas to Omisoka. So be inclusive in your celebration by creating a collage showcasing all the holidays your team observes alongside your other thoughtful gifts. – Joseph Santana, Joseph Santana LLC
10. HOST INTIMATE WORKSHOPS OR ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS FOR OPEN DIALOGUE.
Genuine gratitude comes easy when you feel your team is genuinely invested. This isn’t solely due to bonuses or office parties but through offering autonomy and opportunities to motivate people all year long. However, the holiday season is a great time to show this by hosting intimate engagements such as workshops or roundtables, offering a chance to hear from your team candidly and share your appreciation. – Larry Brinker Jr., BRINKER
11. SEND THEM FREE FOOD OR GIVE THEM A FREE DAY TO FINISH HOLIDAY SHOPPING.
Employees love food, and one great way to express how much you appreciate them is to send a meal with a handwritten note. It could be a new food they haven’t tried or even ice cream—and who doesn’t love ice cream? Also, a free day off is a great way to show gratitude and give more time to shop for others. – Jo Ann Herold, Herold Growth Consulting
12. GIFT THEM WITH FUN PERSONAL OR FAMILY EXPERIENCES.
Holidays are about family time. Give a gift of experience so employees can enjoy their time with their families creating memorable moments together. Keep notes of gift ideas for your team from conversations you have about things they wish to do or try, or things their families wish to do, and surprise them! No matter how small or big, that will leave a good impression that you’re listening. – Fatima Al-Dosari, Qatar America Institute for Culture
13. GIVE THEM MONEY TO DO WITH WHAT THEY WISH.
Having remote teams can make it difficult to celebrate with your colleagues. We opted for a smaller virtual celebration and gave every employee money to do with what they wished—some used it for a special activity with their family, others gave it to their favorite charity, and a few gathered with their local team members for a memorable night out. The gift of choice was impactful for my team. – Heather Jerrehian, Hitch Works, Inc. (Acquired by ServiceNow)
14. ORGANIZE A ‘GRATITUDE GALA.’
One creative way for employers to express gratitude during the holiday season is to organize a “Gratitude Gala.” This approach not only helps employees feel valued but also showcases their individuality. It encourages team bonding, can boost morale, and leaves a lasting impact. You can also have a silent auction to support the causes and organizations most important to your employees. – Leigh Burgess, Bold Industries Group, Inc.
15. DEVELOP A 12-DAY GIVING PROGRAM THAT BENEFITS YOUR TEAM.
Create a 12-day giving program. No matter what your product or service is, create an event, contest, or application process to give away one of your products each day to someone who could benefit from it. Allow your team to create this program and to receive the reward of giving and, in some cases, changing someone’s life. – Jimmy St. Louis, Franchise123
16. OFFER THE ‘GIFT OF GROWTH.’
Our “Gift of Growth” initiative allows employees to choose a professional development activity that aligns with their overall career goals. This initiative demonstrates our commitment to nurturing talent within the organization and contributes to a culture of continuous learning and improvement. It’s an investment that reaffirms our recognition and appreciation of their hard work and dedication. – Gary Mittman, KERV
17. CREATE PERSONALIZED ‘GRATITUDE JOURNALS’ FOR THE STAFF.
For our team, each member received a beautifully bound journal, where the first page contained notes from colleagues, highlighting individual strengths and memories. This served as a keepsake and fostered team bonding, leaving a lasting impression. – Kristin Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
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