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Don’t Be a Scrooge: How to Win Employee Loyalty During the Holiday Season

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Nov 15, 2022

Here's how companies can use the holiday season to earn loyalty from their employees.

The holiday season is a busy time of excitement and anticipation. Warm memories and old traditions fill the weeks with joy, just as plans with loved ones fill our calendars. Time is the most precious gift of all, and you don’t want to be the company Scrooge who makes this special season difficult for your employees. Instead, use this time of year as an opportunity to treat your staff especially well and earn their loyalty.

How to win employee loyalty during the holiday season

It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of end-of-year deadlines, so strive to balance work and play to keep morale strong. If you can get into the holiday spirit and show employees you care, you’ll win their respect and dedication for the long haul. Here are tips for earning employee loyalty during the holiday season.

Recognize all holidays.

Recognizing all holidays, not just Christmas, ensures everyone feels like they belong and are part of the holiday cheer, no matter what their beliefs are. Your efforts will show employees that you are committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Tune into which holidays mean the most to your team, how they celebrate or don’t celebrate, and what you can do to help them observe these special days. Keep an open mind and be empathetic to the different ways people experience this time of year.

Host an inclusive holiday party. 

Holiday parties are a fun way to show appreciation for everyone’s hard work, bring the company together, and provide a relaxed environment to build connections. There are many ways to make events feel more inclusive by being mindful of different backgrounds and cultures. Make your celebrations optional, offer non-alcoholic beverages, and ensure catering accommodates dietary needs. Pick a theme and decor that resonates with a broader group instead of focusing on one holiday. An easy way to be confident you’re making the right decisions is to involve employees in the planning process. 

TipTip: Be mindful of the dates you pick for a party. Avoid days when some employees may be observing a holiday.

Give people flexibility for their personal celebrations. 

The holidays are filled with activities that only come once a year. Some employees may need to travel far to celebrate with loved ones. Give your team members more flexibility to take time off, work from home, or adjust their schedules so they don’t miss out on what matters most to them. Help employees celebrate holidays your company may not officially observe. Encouraging everyone to take time off will also help prevent burnout

Did you know?Did you know? When coordinating employees’ holiday PTO, you need to ensure your business still has adequate staff coverage. Communicate the deadline for time-off requests far in advance and start creating employee schedules as soon as possible. It may be beneficial to create a PTO policy where only 50-75% of your workforce can be out of the office at one time.

Distribute meaningful gifts. 

Gift-giving can be one of the most stressful aspects of the holidays, but when done right, it communicates appreciation and care. Avoid gifts that are meant to be a joke, that feel too personal or that are inappropriate for a typical workplace. Consider organizing a voluntary gift exchange for your employees to boost holiday cheer. This is a great way to build company culture and encourage connections between co-workers, which in turn will make team members appreciate your place of employment more.

Acknowledge accomplishments. 

The end of the year brings a chance to reflect on and celebrate your employees’ achievements. Bonuses are a great incentive for employees to perform well each year. If you’re looking for something more creative, a team dinner or special group activity can be fun alternatives. If a bonus, gift or team-building experiences aren’t possible, verbal recognition is still an effective morale booster. Employees need to know that their hard work isn’t going unnoticed. Help them end the year on a high note and feel proud of all they have accomplished with a thank-you email or a shoutout via your company communication channels, like Slack or Microsoft Teams.

Start planning for the new year. 

Ending the year with an atmosphere of celebration, appreciation and recognition sets a positive tone for the new year. Use this time to build excitement and to empower and inspire your staff as employees look ahead to new goals. Start planning for next year before everyone gets swept up in holiday activities and last-minute work. Lay the groundwork so that when everyone returns from holiday PTO, they are set up for success and have a clear vision to follow. Employees will feel secure when what lies ahead in the new year isn’t a mystery. [Check out our guide to setting better business goals.]

The benefits of fostering employee loyalty

The employee loyalty you build during the holiday season can pay dividends all year long. Companies that earn appreciation from their team members stand to gain the following benefits.

Employee retention 

Employees who feel loyal to their company are less likely to start looking for a new job. As you ring in the new year, your employees should be excited to get started on new projects, not getting ready to update their résumés. An organization where long-term employees have been promoted over the years and remain committed to the business is inspiring. This loyalty shows newcomers there are opportunities for those who dedicate their time and talents to your company. In contrast, high turnover rates disrupt productivity and create gaps in knowledge that can be frustrating for the team members who stay. 

Higher revenue

Organizations with stronger growth often attribute their success to loyalty from their top-performing personnel. Loyal employees know the tips and tricks, best practices and strategies for success unique to your company and are valuable sources of knowledge. The continuity of their work keeps operations running smoothly, especially when these employees have cultivated strong relationships with your biggest clients over the years. They have a deep understanding of how your business can thrive and are personally invested in your goals. Such loyal performance pays off, literally, with better revenue generation.

FYIFYI: The holidays are a season with huge potential for your business. Develop specific holiday marketing strategies and take advantage of special shopping days like Black Friday.

Improved performance

Loyal employees are often motivated by opportunities for development fueled by feelings of belonging. If they care about the company and want to put down roots, you’ll likely see tremendous growth in these individuals and your organization as a whole. Loyal workers are typically the ones contributing big ideas, exhibiting critical thinking and leading their colleagues. Use the holidays as an opportunity to recognize their achievements, foster a sense of community, and continue the cycle of loyalty and high performance.

Better morale and company culture 

A lack of loyalty and low employee retention have a significant impact on morale. High spirits can drop as teams start to feel disjointed, processes break down, and bandwidth is pushed to the limit. When employee turnover is so frequent that the ethos is lost, company culture takes a hit. On the other hand, loyal employees who believe in the mission, have a good outlook, and exhibit positive qualities help create a better work environment. Loyalty and trust go hand in hand and are crucial components of a strong company culture. If the holidays are the busiest time of year for your industry, giving your staff the chance to take a breath and celebrate will make them more likely to stick around. They’ll appreciate a work culture that recognizes their needs outside of day-to-day tasks.

Stronger employer brand

Your brand story can become diluted over time if you start to run out of team members who have been living and breathing the company’s mission for years. It’s an odd feeling when everyone who worked on an essential component of your business’s brand identity is no longer there to speak to it, educate new staff, and oversee it as it evolves. But if you foster employee loyalty and keep long-timers on staff, your brand can remain strong and consistent year after year. You’ll have champions for your company that voluntarily promote your business because they genuinely love it so much and appreciate how you treat them.

Image Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock
Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.