Does it matter for leaders to take time to celebrate the holidays and the year? Maybe, if you have been doing this leadership thing for a while you might wonder, is it worth it? Not everyone appreciates gift cards, bonuses, and events and sometimes there is a bit of entitlement that makes a leader second guess if the recognition makes a difference.
The answer is “YES!” Your staff may not appreciate your efforts or practices while you are there and almost all will miss them when they move on, you move on, etc. However, the memories will stick far longer than you know – all because you took the time to slow down and care.
Find a way to celebrate your staff and the holidays and understand that even if you never hear it, your efforts make an impact.
Benefits of employee recognition
“Employee appreciation is a fundamental human need. When employees feel appreciated and recognized for their individual contributions, they will be more connected to their work, their team, and your organization as a whole.”
Addition benefits include:
- Increased productivity and engagement.
- Decreased employee turnover.
- Greater employee satisfaction and enjoyment of work.
- Improved team culture.
- Higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers.
- Increased retention of quality employees.
- Decreased stress and absenteeism – Great Place to Work.
Why are holidays important for employees?
- Holidays are part of an employee’s personal identity.
- Holidays create a sense of workplace community.
- Celebrating holidays allows self-expression.
- Holiday celebrations let workers interact in new ways.
“Holiday celebrations also present an opportunity to challenge your team to interact in more advanced ways. For example, setting up get-to-know-you activities and icebreaker games put a more personal spin on games for special occasions. Employees who may have never shared a conversation might become fast friends by learning what they have in common. The lighthearted atmosphere of a holiday party makes a great setting for this type of bonding and a venue for memorable workplace moments your team can create together.” – Bamboo HR
Here are a few best practices from leaders around the world:
- Holiday Potluck – For multi-cultural teams, have your team bring in their favorite holiday dish to pass. Share stories of what these dishes evoke or represent for the individuals.
- Have a Secret Santa gift exchange.
- Cater a holiday meal.
- Coordinate a holiday bake-off.
- Adopt a family in need from your local shelter and engage the team in donating clothes, toys, and food.
- Host a Gingerbread House Challenge – create cross-departmental teams to build the best gingerbread house. Provide them with kits. Have the team leader vote on the best house.
- Schedule an ugly holiday sweater competition. Have the team vote and choose the winner!
- Take your team out for a holiday lunch.
- Create a holiday scavenger hunt.
- Host a team decorating challenge – each team decorates their department and everyone votes to define the winner!
- Hold a holiday party and include spouses!
These are just a few ideas that have created a moment of camaraderie that will continue to build a great team environment.
If you decide to give a gift to each employee, whether it’s a present, gift card, or cash – take the time to define your “why” and share what it means to you to be able to do this for them from the company. Often the heartfelt story anchors the gift as a positive experience for the individual and the company.