4 Ways to Make Your Employees Feel Valued this Holiday Season

Kaleb Stropkovics
Oct 10, 2018 · 5 min read

As the holidays approach, so does that debilitating and infamous seasonal depression: the winter blues. Especially if your staff is trying to make up for holiday shopping by working extra hours.

If you’ve already thoughtfully wrapped boxes of coal for each of your employees, you may need some sensitivity training, as well as some help finding them some appropriate and exciting holiday gifts.

Thoughtful Holiday Gifts for Employees

So how can we lighten the load? You’re running a business with an internal community that relies on healthy relationships, open-mindedness, and determination. How can you ensure your employees feel appreciated and stay motivated?

Well, let’s be honest. There’s a fine line between lifting spirits and being tacky. The difference is the attitudes in your business and the respect your team has for you as a leader. I, for one, have never rolled my eyes at a glittery holiday bonus. Besides that, here are some employee appreciation ideas to maintain holiday joy in your business.

1. Give Genuine “Thanks”

It’s not all about the money. Your employees don’t only work at your business, they live there. They spend 40 hours of their week with you. Probably more than that depending on their line of work. If they’re not vacationing or spending time with friends and family, they’re spending it with you and other colleagues. That should mean something. It is a time for giving right?

Get crafty! When employees know they’re appreciated, they’ll feel more encouraged to keep up the good work. It’s hard not to acknowledge good work. Employee appreciation notes are an easy and priceless (very key) holiday gift idea for your employees. And I don’t mean one of those generic, bulk printed Christmas cards with a smeared, illegible corporate signature. Sometimes what’s needed is a personal touch. Recognize individual accomplishments and give specific well-wishes.

Of course, you’re not so bad to work with. You provide enough employee incentives to keep your team eager and efficient. But it’s a two-way street. They’ve given you their all to keep your business rollin’ along in one piece. Show your appreciation with employee appreciation notes and I guarantee you will get thanks back, and not just verbally.

2. Employees Thrive on Shout-Outs

Along with a personal touch, it’s nice to acknowledge great work on your business’s social media accounts. 15-minutes of fame can go a long way. Although shout-outs can be a little embarrassing, they still mean a lot deep down, and employees will seek to maintain or double-up their efforts.

Not only does it boost the ego of those gold-star workers, it also motivates outstanding behavior. Sometimes all it takes is a little friendly competition. Speaking of competition, why not set prizes? Give unique gifts awarding best attitude, most reliable (runner-up, most accountable). It’s only cheesy until you win.

Afterwards, take pictures of the winners with their prizes and post them online. The tangible awards are only half of the point. Post a full-team photo with a paragraph or two expressing your gratefulness for such a determined team. Underneath it all, at least they’ll know you’re thinking of them. And if you’re reading this, it must be true! Show them and tell them.

3. Company Outings

It’s hard to get one big family rounded up, but it’s even harder to get your whole team together outside of work. You’ve fought enough “mandatory staff meeting” battles and heard every excuse not to go. Now is the time to celebrate your survival with non-obligatory get togethers.

Of course, there’s always one employee at every holiday work party who will take the celebration way too far, so maybe set some ground rules first. It’s a casual event and time to relax, but professionalism is still required. Wear your “business hat,” but with a beer in your hand.

A few casual drinks, maybe bowling in ugly sweaters. Let the surrounding public know that your business isn’t just a company. You’re a team. A family. It’s not by chance that your workplace runs so smoothly. Just don’t get too crushed when quiet Janice from accounting slays all of you with a “turkey sandwich” (you can’t fire her right before the holidays).

Or, have a creative games night! Bring the fun to the office for 12-days-of-Christmas themed casual Fridays! Food is nice too. A great way to create a festive work environment is to have a potluck, assigning tasks and responsibilities to different departments each week.

And I’m sure you’ve tried Secret Santa, right?

4. Be Reasonable with Time-Off Requests

It’s most likely the busiest season for your business. Time-off requests are terrifying and scheduling is a nightmare. The best thing you can do for your employees is to take their requests seriously and with great patience. Show them that you’re willing to work with them to figure something out. Not only does this make them feel respected, but it actually gives you more authority. You’re not a pushover for trying. If anything, your consideration over their requests shows that you’re reasonable, and that is a quality that is hard to challenge. Or find, for that matter.

If your employees can trust that you’ve done your best to accommodate their holiday plans, then disappointment doesn’t sting too much on the off-chance that a flight has to be rearranged.

The best way to address time-off requests is to tackle it early. Get those early planners out of the way, and work with the procrastinators as they come. You can only do so much when the time comes, so let them know that.

For more on holiday book-off requests and seasonal hiring, see our guides.

Don’t be a Scrooge this holiday. Use these employee appreciation ideas and your employees will be giddy and joyful this holiday! You’re basically their adult-version of Santa. Let them believe in you.

Besides, coal’s, like, really bad for the environment and health. Bob Cratchit deserved better, and so do your employees. Yes, that’s a Dickens reference.

Small Business, Big World

We believe in the power of small business. We believe in their initiative as they embrace the digital world and the global. At Veem, we're helping small businesses do what they do best: grow.

Kaleb Stropkovics

Written by

Small Business, Big World

We believe in the power of small business. We believe in their initiative as they embrace the digital world and the global. At Veem, we're helping small businesses do what they do best: grow.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade