10 Employee Appreciation Ideas to Try this Holiday Season (And Beyond)

December 21, 2017

The holiday season is a busy time of year, and you may notice that even your top-performing employees have a drop in productivity. They may also seem less engaged overall in their job.

While this is unfortunately common during this time of year, the holiday season (and the end of the year, in general) is also a great time to show your team how much you appreciate them. Your gesture during the holidays can yield improved performance and employee engagement throughout the months to come and even re-invigorate employees that might need a little pick-me-up.

Check out these creative ideas to help show your team members how much you appreciate them during the holidays and beyond:

1. Give Personalized Gifts

It can take time to think about great gift ideas for each of your team members when you take a personalized approach, but these personalized gifts will be well received and show your team that you took the time to put thought in the gift selection.

Think about what you know about each team member personally, such as their personal interests, unique contributions to the company, challenges and achievements. These types of thoughtful gifts show that you see the employee as an individual and that you respect the person.

2. Relieve Holiday Stress

A stress-relieving gift is a wonderful way to show your team members that you recognize their hard work throughout the year, and this type of gift tells them that you know they have earned a bit of pampering.

More than that, the holidays can be a stressful time. A Healthline survey indicated that as many as 65 percent of workers feel more stressed during this time of year. Any stress-relieving gift idea will be well received.

Some excellent ideas are a pedicure, a manicure, a facial, a massage or other related ideas. A secondary idea that all employees may love this time of year is to bring a massage therapist into your office for a few hours to give free massages.

3. Offer Free Food

Food is always a great gift. You can give your employees a gift basket, and this may even be personalized in some way. For example, if you know an employee loves coffee, you can give a coffee-themed gift basket. You could also give gift cards, but that is less personal. If you bring in catered food for everyone to enjoy, ensure that you have a full range of foods for those who are vegetarian or who have a specialized diet.

For example, at kununu, all of the company team members received a loaf of Christmas stollen (along with a hand-written card, a monetary gift), which is a traditional German cake-like fruit bread. This gift added a little extra meaning to the idea of a food-based gift – kununu was founded in Vienna, Austria and lots of its original employees and customers are German!

4. Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Recognition

A peer-to-peer recognition system is an excellent way to make your employees feel valued this year. Worldawork released survey results that show 42 percent of organizations have this type of recognition program in place. Through this type of program, peers recognize the hard work of an employee in a direct way, and they specifically draw attention to the achievements and contributions of this individual. This is also a great way to create a team-oriented work environment.

kununu has a fun program for this too. At both kununu headquarters (one in Vienna and one in Boston), there is a kudo card box that sits in a common hang-out area in the office, and employees can fill it with “kudo cards” to praise the work and contributions of a specific person or people in the office that specifically exemplify their company values. All of the comments in the kudo card box get included in a weekly worldwide company newsletter so that everyone can learn about their kununu colleagues’ great work.

5. Give an Experience

In some cases, experiences are more memorable and cherished than tangible items. Some excellent team-building ideas during the holidays include taking your team to the ballet, to see Christmas lights, to see a comedy performance, to go ice-skating.

These types of experiences can help your team to become friends, and by doing so, they may more easily be able to handle stressors at work.

6. Give a Bonus Day Off

Because the holidays can be so stressful, your employees may love the idea of having a free paid day off to unwind, spend time with family, do some holiday shopping or any other of the many end-of-the-year errands that pop up for most of us. The bonus is that the holiday season often brings a lighter workload for many companies, so this type of gift may have little impact on overall productivity.

This may not be suitable for retail jobs during the holiday season, but it may be ideal for some manual labor positions or other types of work.

7. Throw a Party Your Employees Will Actually Enjoy

Attending a corporate Christmas party often feels like a mandatory obligation, especially if the occasion sounds complicated (or boring!). And for this reason, it’s not uncommon to find people that aren’t looking forward to them. A smarter idea is to make an effort to throw together a party that is truly fun for all attendees.

First, think about the type of company you are and the interests of your people. And from there, think about entertainment they might like, such as karaoke, poker tables or a DJ. You can also give away great prizes through a raffle or even host a competitive game with a great prize. And last but not list, make sure you include foods and drinks that your employees love.

8. Volunteer Together

The holiday season is an excellent time to volunteer, and you can set up a group volunteer activity, such as delivering food to the needy or raising money to buy gifts for a family in need. This is a great way to bring your team together and to do something great for others. Remember that you can also use volunteerism for a public relations effort after the holiday season ends.

9. Be Flexible with Work Hours

Attending work becomes more difficult during the holiday season. Schools are closed, so parents must make care arrangements for their kids. There are also many personal tasks that must be completed during this time of year.

Your employees may love the opportunity to bring their kids to work if this is suitable for your work environment. They may also enjoy the ability to work from home so that they can better manage a healthy work-life balance.

10. Celebrate Your Employees Every Day

While the holiday season is a great time to show your team how appreciated they are, remember that this should be a year-round event. You can always cater a lunch or bring in a masseuse any time of year. You can also structure team-building efforts, recognize great work and more all year.

Regardless of how you choose to thank your employees during this season or throughout the year, ensure that your efforts are heartfelt and genuine. When the gifts or events are perceived as just an obligatory act, you will find that they are not well received.



Jen McKenzie
Jen McKenzie
Jen McKenzie is an up-and-coming author from NY. She usually writes on business, marketing and HR subjects. When not at her desk, you can find her taking long strolls in the countryside or enjoying her free time brushing up on photo editing. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie

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