Tis the season of office holiday parties, bonuses and corporate gifts. For many organizations this process now runs on auto-pilot – companies simply hand out bottles of wine or this year’s branded swag item. It’s all with good intentions but without some thought behind what you’re actually giving employees, the gesture can come across as inauthentic.
Tailoring your end of year employee appreciation and holiday gifts to fit the likes and needs of your workers will give the gift more weight and make it truly special. It’s not hard to come up with creative ways to give back, simply brainstorm amongst your exec team and talk to a few employees to get their opinions.
Thinking outside the box can surface some truly innovative and appreciated ideas. Here are just a few creative ways to give back that employees are sure to love.
1. Create a “Work Remote” Policy around the Holidays
Whether employees are traveling for the holidays or trying to get the house ready to host celebrations, the option to skip the morning commute and work from home (either their own or a family member’s) will be a welcome stress reliever during this busy time of year.
This also allows employees to avoid the most popular travel days without having to take extra time off work (a win for both them and the company).
2. Donate to Charity in Their Honor
Giving feels good, but sometimes finding the extra cash to donate to a charity can be difficult – especially with winter holiday and heating bills. Show your employees that you care about them and the causes close to their hearts by donating in their name.
Establish how much you will donate “for” each employee (something that can be built into the budget at the beginning of the year so it’s even easier to manage). Select 5-10 charities covering a range of causes and allow each employee to decide where their portion will go. When the deadline arrives simply tally up how many votes each charity got and cut the checks.
3. Buy an Office Gift
Sometimes companies want to get their employees individual gifts but it’s just not in the cards – or budget. If this is the case consider an office gift. Upgrade the coffee machine, install a free vending machine, institute a new policy of providing healthy office snacks year around or kick up the office cool-factor by buying a kegerator. These new office improvements will require a minor year-long investment to keep them stocked, but they will infinitely improve office morale.
These new office improvements will require a minor year-long investment to keep them stocked, but they will infinitely improve office morale.
4. Host Santa Photos at the Office
The lines for photos with Santa are long and loud and buying the pictures is getting increasingly expensive. Save parents the trip (and headache) by bringing a mini winter wonderland, complete with Santa and a photographer, to the office.
Arrange for a professional Santa and photographer to come to the office one Friday afternoon and set up for photos near an office Christmas tree or holiday decorations. Make the event more exciting by serving hot cocoa. Then post the images on a company Dropbox or server for parents to claim and print.
5. Surprise Employees with New Year’s Eve Off
Many organizations give their employees New Year’s Day off, but not every office closes for December 31. Surprise your employees on December 30 by handing out bottles of champagne or sprinkling juice and announcing that everyone should stay home tomorrow and enjoy the last day of the year.
6. Bring in a Massage Therapist
Help employees elevate the stress of the holidays and the end of the year by bringing a massage therapist to the office for a day. Everyone can sign up for a five or 10-minute mini-escape massage and relax as the tension melts away between meetings. This is better than a spa gift certificate because it’s on-the-spot and doesn’t require employees to find time to schedule a full-blown spa trip.
If you really want to take this gift to the next level, announce that the complimentary massage therapist visit will happen once a quarter for the next year.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving
It’s well documented that employees who feel appreciated are happier and more productive. That’s why it’s important to put real thought into your holiday giving-back activities.
A branded item or typical bottle of wine can feel empty and meaningless, but doing something that makes employees’ lives easier and more efficient will leave a lasting impression. Whatever you decide to do this holiday season, make sure there’s meaning and thought behind it.