Article | Employee Relations

10 Simple Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer at Work

Daryl Forkell
L female with laptop on couch Christmas tree
L female with laptop on couch Christmas tree

It’s that time of year again, when companies across the country get started planning holiday festivities to wrap up one year and ring in the next.

Whether a traditional office holiday party, a sit-down meal as a thank-you for a year of hard work, or an afternoon spent volunteering for a charitable organization, the holiday season brings good cheer for employees and employers alike.

But, with competing demands for employee time, attention, and energy during the holiday season, it can be difficult to come up with a holiday-related activity that suits everyone’s individual schedule, interests, religious affiliation, etc.

Fortunately, there are a variety of ways for organizations to include everyone in a little holiday cheer at work – the key is to get creative!

Let’s take a look at a few ideas that we’ve compiled from sources across the Internet:

1. Give the Gift of Giving

“Think out of the box for a productive holiday season. [Company leaders can showcase] organizational skills (and a social conscience) by getting the office involved in a charity project.

Collect toys for underprivileged kids, or ask the HR department if the company can host a Jeans Day, where everyone pays a few bucks to wear denim and the proceeds benefit a local organization for the needy.” 1

2. Personalize Gifts for Employees

“Personalizing employee gifts adds an element of genuineness that simply cannot be matched by a one-size-fits-all gift. Although any employee gift will be appreciated, one that is well thought through and custom-tailored for a specific employee shows that [the company cares] about that person individually.

In the small business setting, it might be feasible to purchase an individual gift based on each particular employee’s preferences. In larger organizations, purchasing the same gift for all employees might be in order. If this is the case, try to personalize each gift with a meaningful picture, logo or the employee’s name when possible. A customized, personalized gift goes farther in demonstrating gratitude and appreciation for each employee and what he or she brings to the company.” 2

3. Be Compassionate

“Everyday employees come to work with something on their mind – some worry, fear, or personal issue they are dealing with. For some people work is a relief from their personal issues, but that work needs to be meaningful and employees need to be productive. Managers should keep that in mind and do their best to make employees feel valued and cared about.

Many people believe that money talks. While financial compensation makes people feel good for about a month or two, it does not really motivate people or increase satisfaction. What matters to most are the simple things – saying thank you (maybe it’s hand-written note or thoughtful email) or giving someone a few extra hours off of work at the end of a busy week.

Remember a happy worker works harder. Promoting emotional happiness in the workplace is a great way to spread cheer this holiday season and all throughout the year.” 3

4. Promote Inclusiveness & Celebrate Diversity

“Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas all occur at the end of the calendar year—not to mention Las Posadas, Three King’s Day, and Winter Solstice!

Employers, HR professionals, and managers struggle with how to celebrate these holidays, recognize the diversity of religious beliefs and practices, and consider the issues of non-religious employees who do not partake in these holidays.

What can employers do to accommodate religious expression and observance by employees? Ideas include: substituting or swapping shifts for employees who request time off for religious reasons; providing flexible scheduling during the day and allowing flexible arrival and departure times, as well as flexible work breaks; and adding a floating holiday or two that employees can use to satisfy religious duties without disrupting schedules.” 4

5. Applaud Employees and Promote a Positive Office Culture

“Find the true meaning of the holidays by bringing employees together to celebrate what they’ve accomplished together professionally, as well as on a personal level. Fibrebond, a manufacturer of concrete structures based in Louisiana, publishes a corporate yearbook during the holidays in which employees share photos, recipes, and stories.” 5

6. Make a Human Connection

“One of the big advantages of a season that promotes goodwill to all is that [employers] have a pretext to wander around having non-work-related conversations with all staff. Now’s the time to demonstrate [that companies see employees] as human beings rather than units of labor by asking about their families and holiday plans.

There are few things more motivating for an employee than knowing their employer has a genuine interest in their lives, and there are few better opportunities to demonstrate this than during the festive season.” 6

7. Serve Holiday-Themed Food

“People love to eat—especially during the holidays. So [companies can] do something special at the office to enjoy all the delicious goodies that are available during the holidays.

Some ideas are: a hot chocolate party, holiday themed pot-luck, ginger bread house decorating contest, a mulled wine extravaganza, or anything else that gets [employees] in the holiday spirit!” 7

8. Make Generosity Meaningful

“If a company tradition includes an expression of generosity as the year winds down, strive to make that generosity meaningful. A gift of free childcare and a day off to run errands and shop might mean a lot more to employees with children than a wallet or gift basket would.” 8

9. Spread “Good Gossip”

“[Employers] might have a visceral reaction against the idea of gossiping, but good gossip is different from bad gossip. Good gossip means spreading positive thoughts around – things that people wouldn’t mind getting back to the individual they’re talking about.

Be sincere, of course, but speak up about this kind of thing! It will make [the person spreading the 
good gossip] feel good, please the recipient if it gets back to them, and raise the overall spirits in the office.” 9

10. Celebrate the Year Ahead With a Business New Year’s Card

“[In addition to business Christmas cards], Hallmark Business Connections offers business New Year’s cards that can get the new year off to a great start.

Example sentiments include ‘Sharing our thanks for all your hard work and our wishes for happiness in the year ahead’ or ‘We’re looking forward to another great year of working together.’” 10

Final Thoughts

This holiday season, the most effective companies are finding ways to boost employee morale with a little festive cheer. There are a variety of ways to celebrate the holidays around the office – holiday cards, gift exchanges, charitable donations, etc. – but the key for companies is to make employees feel celebrated and appreciated not just during one season of the year, but each and every day.

How does your organization spread holiday cheer around the office?


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