Gratitude for your Employees

Appreciation Ideas for the Holidays

You have 365 days each year to show your employees how much you appreciate them. But do you do it? Probably not.

The holidays are a great opportunity to make up for lost time and show your gratitude for those who have shown up day after day this year. There’s no need to wait for Christmas time to give a gift or show a little love. After all, Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to the practice of gratitude. 

Gratitude Matters 

Most employers assume their people only care about big bonuses and more money, but that isn’t the case at all. In fact, research shows that recognition is the one thing that most inspires employees to do great work. A white paper recently released from O.C. Tanner shows that almost 80% of the people who leave their jobs cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving. Of course, if your in-office employees feel underappreciated, remote workers have it even worse. According to research firm Gartner, remote workers are twice as likely to receive corrective feedback and half as likely to receive positive feedback as in-office workers.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to show your employees how grateful you are to them. Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

For Small Business: 

  • Give the gift of time off. Almost nothing rivals the value of time off for employees to unwind and enjoy the holidays with family. 
  • Write a card. Don’t send an email, don’t use a template, just a handwritten note with genuine appreciation. 
  • Use social media. Give a shout-out on your social profiles to employees who have made a difference, or who have put in extra effort lately. 
  • Have a potluck: This is an easy way to encourage employees to bring their favorite holiday dish and share the recipe with others to create an opportunity to get to know one another. 
  • Volunteer as a group: Get out of the office and find an opportunity for service nearby. 
  • Take them out to lunch: Food brings people together and it allows you to bond somewhere other than the office. Avoid the cafeteria and block off at least one hour to truly focus on the people you’re with. 
  • Start out the morning right: Bringing in Starbucks or bagels in the morning to show you care can go a long way.
  • Remember the little things: Take note of birthdays, anniversaries, sports their kids are into, hobbies they love, make a point to mention these things as you chat with your employees throughout the day. Get to know them as people and understand where they are coming from. 

For Medium-Size Business: 

Medium-size businesses can incorporate any of the ideas for small businesses, as well as the following: 

  • Give a gift card: People love gift cards, it gives them the freedom to go enjoy something they love free of charge. Rather than choose a generic gift card, try to think of the individual and personalize the gift just for them. 
  • Redesign the break room: Invest in your people by giving them somewhere relaxing to hang out during the day. Add some new furniture, a gaming console, or a beautiful kitchen area where staff can prepare meals at the office. 
  • Try a subscription box: This is a relatively low-cost gift that shows your appreciation all year long. You can offer meal boxes, clothing subscriptions, children boxes, pet boxes, there is something for everyone. 
  • Bring in Food: Stock the breakroom, bring in food trucks, cater lunch, or send home meals to-go ready for dinner. These are all easy ways to feed your employees and help them to feel appreciated, especially during the busy holiday season. 
  • Surprise gift delivery: You have all of your employee’s addresses, sending a little something from Amazon to surprise them is an easy way to show you care. 
  • Shorten Fridays: Give families the gift of time by shortening Friday’s during the holiday season to a half day. This allows families to get more holiday shopping done, attend recitals and holiday parties, etc. 
  • Support their Passion Project: If your employees have something they are involved in, show some interest, and support their passion project with a donation or endorsement. 

For Large Companies: 

Any of the ideas for medium and small businesses work just as well for large companies. However, with more resources, you may be able to expand with these additional ideas to show your gratitude. 

  • Cater in Thanksgiving. If you work in an industry that works on holidays such as healthcare, or security, cater in Thanksgiving dinner to those working that day. 
  • Book a spa day: Give your top 10 performers, or the assistant you can’t live without a day at the spa to show your gratitude. 
  • Cover Travel Expenses: Many families travel over the holidays, and this can be a strain on their budget. Offer plane tickets, hotel vouchers, rental cars, or extra paid days off. 
  • A Company Retreat: This is a great way to show your appreciation to your employees, especially after a particularly busy season or outstanding performance. 

The Two Most Powerful Words 

Employee appreciation is the cornerstone of a meaningful workplace culture. Showing some employee appreciation is so simple, it’s often forgotten. A little appreciation doesn’t have to be heavy on the pockets, but the more you’re willing to put in, the longer you’ll reap the benefits. As you incorporate a regular practice of gratitude in the office, you might find that employee appreciation becomes a tad bit easier and a whole lot more fun.

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