Prioritizing employee gratitude helps keep holiday stress from hijacking your workplace.
Fun activities with a focus on wellbeing, appreciation and making social connections are the antidote to the kind of stress that can distract employees and derail productivity over the holiday season.
“Keeping employees engaged and healthy is particularly difficult during the holiday season. The weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year offer a lot of challenges when it comes to productivity, illness and work performance,” Forbes contributor Alan Kohll writes.
Ironically, when stress takes over, we stop doing the things that help keep stress at bay — like exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and engaging in meaningful social connections.
“When employees are over-stressed or dealing with hectic schedules, they tend to drop healthy habits and become disengaged with their work,” Kohll writes.
That’s why it’s so important for management to lead with gratitude and model healthy behaviors, especially during vulnerable times like the holidays.
“It may feel counterintuitive, but the holiday season could be the best time for employers to double down on employee wellbeing,” Kohll writes. “By recognizing the holiday season and all the joy — and stress — it can bring to employees, employers can help reduce any extra pressures around the office and keep employees motivated to finish the year strong.”
Simply acknowledging that the holidays can be stressful lets employees know that you understand what they’re going through. Take it a step further and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts this month, too.
#GivingTuesday is this week, and it’s the perfect time to kick off a month of gratitude activities for the holiday season in your workplace.
How to Share Employee Gratitude in December
Employees who hear “thanks” from their bosses are more motivated to do their jobs well. Appreciation is a powerful external motivator because it feeds our human need to know our work is making a difference.
This is true year-round, but particularly during stressful periods like the holidays.
“Since employees are likely to feel more stressed this time of year, showing them that they are appreciated might be the gentle push they need to prevent them from becoming disengaged and unmotivated,” Kohll writes.
How can employers engage with employee gratitude this December?
1. Be straightforward and say (or write) your words of appreciation!
A genuine “Thank You” to employees in a holiday card, in person one-on-one or in a speech at the annual Christmas party are all great ways to communicate gratitude.
Personalized holiday cards are especially meaningful. A handwritten note is a keepsake employers can save and remember. Need tips? Download our handy how-to guide, “How to Write a Holiday Letter to Employees.”
2. Plan holiday wellbeing activities.
Instead of focusing on simple participation (number of gym visits, etc.), plan wellbeing activities that actually help employees engage with healthy activities and have fun. According to a Limeade article on Huffington Post:
The word ‘engagement’ is thrown around loosely. … Engagement is not program participation — how many people make how many clicks, actions or complete activities in what timeframe. … When we say engagement we mean the deep connection and sense of purpose at work that creates extra energy and commitment.
The best fitness or healthy-eating activities to plan this month are ones that are fun and bring people together — and don’t pile on more pressure like weight-loss goals. Sign the team up for a walkathon or 5k for charity, blow off steam with a weekly after-work basketball game, or invite in an instructor to teach calming yoga techniques or ballroom dance over lunch.
Survey employees for what they want! Keep the options fun, low-key and low-pressure.
Let it be a treat to break up hectic holiday schedules. And don’t forget to let employees know how grateful you are that they’re taking the time to participate.
3. Show support across your organization.
Where could your HR team be showing more support in the coming month (and year)? Are there blind spots you may be missing when it comes to employee gratitude and organizational wellbeing?
Check out Limeade’s excellent guide, “24 Tips for Improving Organizational Support.” It’s divided into different categories (team/peers, social networks, physical work environment) and asks questions to help HR leaders take action in each category.
As we get ready for 2018, now’s the time to start thinking about your engagement and support goals for the New Year.
4. Throw a Thank-a-Thon party (or other offbeat celebration).
Celebrations help us make the kind of connections that strengthen our teamwork. Wrap up the year with a gratitude-focused party where employees receive recognition and have the opportunity to thank others in the workplace (coworkers, favorite customers, etc.).
Keep in mind that giving gratitude is just as fulfilling as receiving gratitude! A Thank-a-Thon is an opportunity to boost gratitude in and around your company. Traditionally, organizations that fundraise have done “thank-a-thons” as a fun break from a fundraising campaign — instead of requesting money, callers thank donors for their contributions. The concept is easily applied in any business setting, however. Have fun with it!
5. Volunteer or donate as a team for #GivingTuesday.
Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season. Find resources and ideas for getting involved on the #GivingTuesday website — and don’t miss the opportunity to share your company’s involvement using the hashtag on social media this week.
There’s more to gift-giving than just passing out gifts. It’s about cultivating a culture of gratitude and recognition.
gThankYou’s new, updated Ultimate Employee Gift-Giving Guide has fresh case studies, more resources and the latest research in HR management. It’s the perfect resource for planning employee gift-giving at the holidays and recognition efforts for the New Year.
Download it FREE today!
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