Holiday gift-giving is a joyous time to spread gratitude. It brings people together (even remotely) and delivers a pick-me-up during challenging times. The COVID-19 Pandemic has rocked many boats, but let’s look at the positive: increased employee engagement! To embrace this uptick, let’s also explore employee appreciation and keeping morale high by giving employees what they REALLY need or want this holiday season.
COVID-19: Good for workplace engagement
Understanding the importance of employee engagement has always been important to organizations; especially those that care about employee satisfaction, retention, and a variety of other factors that support a great workforce. With the COVID-19 pandemic, employee engagement has been absolutely critical as companies have needed to heavily rely on essential workers and revamp organizational structures. Remote workforces require extra effort to keep engagement levels high, and recent research indicates that this is indeed happening.
According to Josh Bersin, noted HR industry analyst, educator and thought leader, made a bold statement in an April 2020 blog post entitled “COVID-19 May Be The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Employee Engagement.” Bersin pointed out that the Coronavirus accelerated one of the biggest business transformations in decades. He stated,
“Yes, it’s a health crisis but for most companies, it’s also an incredible opportunity to transform.”
Bersin & Associates research showed that during the pandemic,
“companies are treating their employees better than ever. And employee engagement, a problem that plagues more than two-thirds of companies year after year, is actually going up.”
Bersin indicated that businesses are bending over backward to take care of their employees because they have to these days. There is a new focus on protecting employees, “personal productivity, wellbeing, and personal resilience.”
The COVID-19 crisis has brought many challenges to the world of work, but it has also opened up a remarkable opportunity for workplace leaders to reinvent how they engage, appreciate and recognize their workforce.
Holidays are a great time to say “Thank You”
The holidays are a traditional time for employers to think about ways to show gratitude to all employees. Whether someone is a front-line worker or steadily holding backend processes together, companies would not survive without the resilience of people who care. Employee appreciation should occur year-round, but there is no doubt that the holidays are special.
What do employees really want this holiday season?
Your recognition of the challenges of this past year and appreciation for all employees have done to keep your business going.
There are countless ways to say “thank you” to employees. One of the simplest and most universally appreciated is with a personal letter of appreciation.
Human resources experts have found that employee thank you notes can have a profound impact on engagement. But they’re most effective when they come from the top down. When asked for a Gallup survey, most employees said the most memorable recognition they ever received at work came from a manager, CEO, or other company leader.
If it’s been a while since you’ve written a thank you note, don’t worry. It’s easier than you think. Here are a few tips:
- Be yourself — no need to be gushy or overly sentimental.
- Take a friendly tone that says, “We’re all in this together.”
- Be forthright and specific about the challenges of the past year and how employees efforts and contributions have helped the business.
- Tell a success story about your company, involving your employees as key players.
- Handwrite it, if possible. Handwritten notes cut through the digital noise.
For more letter-writing tips, including examples of thank you notes by industry leaders, get your free copy of our e-book, “Put the ‘Thanks’ in Thanksgiving.”
Show your gratitude with a gift employees will truly appreciate this year
A Holiday Turkey
Turkey is the traditional workplace gift of thanks.
gThankYou! Turkey Gift Certificates are just the thing for convenient workplace turkey gifts. Certificates fit inside standard #10 business envelopes, they’re good for any brand of turkey at virtually any U.S. grocery store, and they come with free customizable “thank you” Enclosure Cards.
According to Feeding America, “From the beginning of March through the end of June, food banks nationwide distributed more than 1.9 billion meals to people facing hunger in the United States. In March alone, food banks gave out 20 percent more food than an average month.” While many Americans are relying on help to regularly feed their families, there are other households that are simply appreciative of extra help with groceries. Either way, food is always welcome and appreciated.
gThankYou! Grocery Gift Certificates are a popular option for the gift of groceries. Certificates can be redeemed for any combination of food items and are redeemable at major grocery stores nationally. Grocery vouchers by gThankYou prohibit alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals and any non-food items. To learn more, call 888-484-1658.
Pick up the phone and wish every team member personal best-wishes for Thanksgiving and the holidays. Check-in and ask how employees are managing and if there is anything you can do to help make them more successful in what they do for you. Create opportunities for employees to connect virtually or social distanced with colleagues. Host a virtual holiday party or team building activity. Be creative in your ways of connecting.
A benefit of people staying home is more family bonding. Whether playing cards, streaming movies, backyard tournaments or cooking, people are appreciating the extra time with their loved ones. There are many ways to support activities through game gift baskets, streaming entertainment (like a Hulu gift card), cookbooks, or other creative ideas.
Mental Health Resources
The CDC has been very communicative about how the pandemic can affect mental health. Frontline workers, families of those sick or immunocompromised, and anyone who has struggled with isolation or loneliness are just examples of groups who may need external help. Resources aren’t a replacement for a positive and uplifting holiday gift, but be ready to provide the necessary assistance that shows you care.
Let loose a little! Organizations can make virtual celebrations fun and engaging, including ice cream socials and coffee breaks. Check out Paperless Post for inspiration and invitations. Send fun gifts ahead of the event – party supplies or treats to share while being online with colleagues. For upcoming holidays, consider hosting an online party where attendees can win prizes, socialize, and take their minds off of work or home-related stress. Here are some tips for Halloween!
Employees look forward to and depend on your holiday traditions. If a certain cash bonus or Thanksgiving turkey gift is what employees have come to rely on, it is important to stay consistent. This year may have budgetary restraints, but if at all possible, deliver something that delivers a feeling of normalcy. Here are some case studies that show how easy gift-giving can be.
As we struggle with uncertainty, the human need for reassurance grows. Especially when it comes to job security. Employers should take advantage of any way to offer reassurance that is authentic and dependable. An article by SHRM addresses this topic well: “How can we reassure employees who are worried about the coronavirus?”
A thoughtful employee holiday letter is one of the simplest ways to broadly communicate reassurance during these challenging times.
Whatever gift-giving strategy you choose, if you share your gifts with gratitude, your appreciation will be valued.
We wish you, your family and your work family health, safety and joy this pandemic holiday season.
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