Beyond the Holiday Party: Gestures of Employee Appreciation This Holiday Season

The gesture of a holiday party is usually the primary way employers show appreciation and thanks to employees around this time of year, but recent studies, including one conducted by ERC (09 Holidays & Festivities Survey) show that some employers are scaling back on the traditional holiday party or simply not having one at all.  Needless to say, most are still trying to have some function for their employees.

Great employers don’t lose sight of showing their thanks to employees during the holiday season, even in the smallest of ways.  Whether a holiday party is feasible this year or not, it’s important to try to make a concerted effort to bring employees together, show them appreciation, and boost morale.  We all know employees whom we owe appreciation and thanks to for their efforts this holiday season, particularly after many of the challenges our businesses have experienced throughout the year. If your organization can’t provide a holiday party this year for economical reasons, consider other ways that you can show appreciation to your employees.

This holiday season, appreciation doesn’t need to be expensive to be meaningful. It can be a note, a call, a small gift, a luncheon, potluck dinner, or other small event.  Whatever the form, saying thank you for the hard work and dedication of your employees, and particularly top performers, during the holidays is an important part of being a great workplace. In ERC’s research on what engages employees, top performers consistently cite that the efforts their workplaces take to ensure they having fun, enjoying one another, and being appreciated are reasons why they stay with their organizations (09 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report). Top performers recognize the efforts of their workplaces in creating an enjoyable and appreciative culture.

This year, ERC has learned of numerous ways through our research and NorthCoast 99 program, that workplaces are stepping up to the challenges of recognizing employees in low-cost, but meaningful ways. From CEOs funding the entire holiday function out of their own pockets to line-managers sacrificing either time or money to show some appreciation to their direct reports, many workplaces are finding creative, alternative ways to show their thanks. Here are some other suggestions:

  • Encourage managers, or ideally your CEO, to write notes to employees or top performers thanking them for their contributions. Old-fashioned words of kindness never lose meaning.
  • Leave all employees or top performers a personalized telephone call of thanks.
  • Be as generous as you can. Employees recognize when their organizations are going out of their way to be generous, even when times are difficult.  
  • Provide employees or top performers with small gifts of appreciation.
  • Release staff early on Christmas Eve so they can spend it with their families.
  • Organize a potluck luncheon or dinner for your staff. Some organizations even have their management teams make a meal for the staff.
  • Conduct an inexpensive pre-holiday activity at work.

So while celebrating the holiday season in extravagant ways may not be in the cards for your organization this year, or appropriate given your unique circumstances, employee appreciation and an element of fun and enjoyment always holds a place in the workplace.

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3 Responses to Beyond the Holiday Party: Gestures of Employee Appreciation This Holiday Season

  1. Cards, definitely work. Personal cards. Not printed messages, but genuine and meaningful words that tell people you know who they are, you see their work, and you appreciate and value it. Otherwise, cards may actually be demotivating, the business equivalent of those insincere “good job, nice handwriting” comments that teachers make on work that doesn’t quite meet requirements. Most of us have experienced this enculturation. We know meaningless remarks when we see them.

    I’m a teacher educator and I’ve had some of my greatest successes motivating learners of any age by sharing good news about their work and about them. I held regular “Good News Days” when I was teaching high school and invited parents and guardians to come to school to hear nothing but good news about their children. Doing this required a reframing of my observations. Instead of looking for what students were doing wrong, I kept anecdotal notes about what they were doing right, although I also dealt with problems when necessary.

    You might wonder why I’m not reading and posting on some education-related blog. I spent twenty years working in the private sector before I returned to school to become a teacher, and what I’ve discovered is that the age of the people you’re managing doesn’t make much difference. Whether I’m leading a team completing a printing job under deadline or trying to convince high schoolers to stay in school or instilling confidence in student teachers, people want to know that their work is seen and appreciated. They want to know they matter.

  2. iphonekönig says:

    thanks for this – happy holidays 😀

  3. Kim Marlowe says:

    Hi, i found this blogg on bing. I think its very interesting and i will probably come back to read more. Just want you to now that you are doing a great job.

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