How to Show Gratitude to Your Employees During the Holiday Season: 5 Ways to Get Started

Thanksgiving is a great reminder of the importance of gratitude. Here’s how and why organizations can promote a culture of gratitude towards employees—during the holidays and always.
How to Show Gratitude to Your Employees During the Holiday Season- 5 Ways to Get Started
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Employee reward and recognition programs help boost engagement all year long—but said rewards and words of recognition especially shine during the holiday season when giving thanks is top of mind for employees. 

Showing your gratitude to employees not only makes them feel appreciated, it also positively impacts your company’s bottom line. Indeed, an employee who has been recognized is 63% more likely to stay at his or her current job within the next three to six months. And according to a study by Deloitte, recognition increases employee engagement, productivity, and performance by 14%.

Ready to get started showing your gratitude towards employees? Here are five ways, plus some real-life advice from HR professionals who have seen what works (and what doesn’t) to put smiles on employees’ faces this time of year. 

1. Give Employees a Bonus Day (or Week!) Off

For many, the holidays are already stressful—nevermind navigating another holiday season in the midst of a pandemic. 

Our take? Give your employees one less thing to stress about—work-wise, that is. Whether it’s the day after Thanksgiving (hint, hint) or the week between Christmas and New Years, giving your employees extra paid time off will help everyone breathe a little easier this time of year. 

Even though the cost may be great, we intentionally close down all operations from the last week of December until the new year. Shutting down work allows us to take a moment to breathe, reflect, meditate, and come back laser focused."

2. Make Recognition Personal

Just like the gifts you give your loved ones, showing your gratitude to employees should be done in a way that’s as unique as the individual receiving the token of thanks. That is, how you give recognition, as well as what you say, should be both personal and genuine. 

Outside of days off for all employees to spend the days with family, I love keeping things simple. Sometimes the smallest ways of showing appreciation have the biggest impacts. Leadership sends a personalized thank you to each team showing they understand what they are doing and letting them know what they do matters, we also send out some goodies with swag to add that little extra magic during the holiday season."

Also, keep in mind that each of your employees likes to be recognized in different ways. Some may prefer being recognized in a meeting in front of their peers. Others may prefer to be recognized just by you, not in front of other employees. Get to know each individual on your team, and take the time to recognize them in ways that are most meaningful to them.

The holidays should not be the only time that an organization shows gratitude to its employees; however, it is a great time to celebrate your year’s wins. I’ve created a yearly magazine in the past, called the “Appreciation” that would be shared with staff annually, it featured our employees and their accomplishments both in and outside of the organization, as well as personal notes of appreciation."

Psst. Have need-to-know answers to pressing HR questions? Join our community of HR Mavericks sharing their expertise on our HR Answers form. Find out more here.

3. Get Your Colleagues Involved

Did you know? Employees that are most satisfied with their organization’s recognition program are those that are not only aware of how people are recognized, but also who can do the recognizing. 

And we think everyone should be involved. 

Why? Peer recognition helps perpetuate your company’s culture of showing gratitude—and demonstrates that everyone can play an active role in recognition. What’s more, peer recognition can be just as—if not more—powerful than leader recognition. 

Peer recognition is almost 36 percent more likely than top-down recognition to have a positive impact on the bottom line. Peer recognition also drives commitment and engagement more than top-down recognition.”

4. Bring People Together

‘Tis the season to gather and give thanks—whether that’s with your given family, or the one you chose. And for some, that family is their work family. 

Hosting holiday meals and gatherings helps your employees feel like they belong at your company—and fosters better engagement and even boosts productivity. Yes, even when they’re not working and enjoying a meal with their colleagues.

This time of year is a fantastic time to celebrate employees' hard work throughout the year. We hosted a Potluck Thanksgiving celebration last week where each employee signed up to bring in food and any other items needed. We spent the afternoon tasting each other's creations and learned about each other's backgrounds/secret recipes. We also played Thanksgiving Bingo and the prizes were Amazon gift cards. The employees had a great time and were laughing all afternoon. It felt like a family gathering. We are also hosting a Holiday Party at a local restaurant next month. Year end reviews are great along with promotions if warranted and/or bonuses. The company also spontaneously treats the employees to lunch or dinner. These things go a long way and create a feeling of family as well as appreciation.”

5. Get Creative (to Keep Employees and Families Safe)

While we’ve come a long way since last year’s unusual holiday season, not everyone will feel safe gathering at an office holiday party this year. To make sure all employees feel included, come up with creative ways to show your gratitude to employees—near and far. 

Holidays during COVID have produced their own set of challenges. In years past, we would hold huge parties for the employees and their families with gifts and prizes and games - maybe even a surprise appearance from Santa for the kids. Looking at ways to still show that same appreciation for our team, but without the large gathering, we decided to go simple. Gift cards to a local grocery store so they can have dinner on us - or for whatever they may need at the time. A gift that is something they will actually use, such as a blanket or a phone kit for their car. We still provide a box lunch or dinner for those working on the holiday, just as an extra thank you."

Showing Gratitude Is Always in Season

We know helping your organization show its gratitude to employees is just one piece of the HR puzzle—and a year-long pursuit (in the form of rewards and recognition). 

At Eddy, we help busy HR professionals by taking administrative tasks off your plate, so you can focus on taking care of your employees. 

Want to keep up with the trends shaping the HR industry? Subscribe to get our weekly updates right to your inbox.

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