The holidays are a great time to strengthen your company culture. Here are nine festive ways to reward your team’s hard work and inspire for the year ahead.
By Deb Boelkes,
During the holiday season, many business owners look for ways to show their teams they care. Sure, that’s what bonuses are for, but cash gifts aside, there are plenty of other ways to show your employees you appreciate their hard work, creativity, and dedication during the season of giving.
This sense of heartfelt gratitude and caring is a pivotal part of creating a workplace built on what Deb Boelkes calls the “WOW Factor.”
“One of the greatest gifts you can give employees is building a culture so great that they can’t imagine working anyplace else,” says Boelkes, author of The WOW Factor Workplace: How to Create a Best Place to Work Culture. “It all comes down to offering them the support, encouragement, guidance, and compassion they need to flourish and thrive.”
A WOW company culture is a gift that keeps giving
Creating a WOW company culture is a gift that keeps on giving all year long. When you show employees you care, they will be loyal to you in return. What’s more, putting employees first inspires them to give their best efforts, which drives customer loyalty, which drives profit.
“The holidays are one of the easiest times to ‘wow’ your employees,” says Boelkes. “Spirits are high, and you can take advantage of the festive mood to strengthen these relationships, which benefits everyone.”
Here are a few ways to show your team you care this holiday season:
1. Make their holidays easier
WOW leaders care about their people and want to make their lives easier. Life can get busy and stressful during the holidays. Doing simple things to take some of the pressure off means more than you may realize.
For instance, announce the holiday schedule in advance so they can plan. Also, keep the schedule flexible and light. Let people leave work a few hours early, work from home, or close down the office a day or two in advance of the holiday.
“You’re showing them you see them not just as cogs in a machine but as whole human beings with lives outside the office,” says Boelkes. “This works best when you make an effort all year long to get to know what’s going on in their lives and what matters to them.”
2.Wow your team with some grace
If an employee realizes at the last minute the need to leave in the middle of the day to attend their children’s holiday play, let them. Consider saying, “Oh, it’s fine and no need to come back in. Enjoy your afternoon.” These are the kinds of reactions that make a lasting impression and build loyalty.
3. Don’t send bland corporate holiday cards
Instead, share a heartfelt, personalized, thank-you message. Successful leaders, especially heartfelt leaders, make sure the contributions of others are appreciated. A simple “thank you” can have more power than you think. Give meaningful credit when credit is due.
“Make your ‘thank you’ meaningful by giving each employee a handwritten thank-you card along with any bonuses you distribute,” says Boelkes. “Be specific in listing some of the reasons you value each employee and thank them for making each day a WOW experience.”
4. Help employees connect to purpose and meaning
A WOW company culture is infused with meaning. People don’t simply go through the motions. They know their work touches people’s lives in real and often profound ways.
Britt Berrett, former president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, says purpose and meaning are crucial for creating employee engagement in all fields—not just the “obvious” industries like healthcare, education, or social work.
He says, “We get to take care of people and touch their lives every day. That’s a divine calling in life. Colleagues outside of healthcare, I think they, too, can find that purpose and that meaning. That’s why Southwest Airlines is doing what they’re doing. I think they consider it a great calling in life. I’ve heard them speak to that, on opening the airways, on opening travel for families and friends to connect. I think that’s meaningful. But it does take courage, it really does. It’s exhausting, too. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not for those who are ‘kind of,’ ‘sort of,’ ‘sometimes,’ or ‘maybe.’ It’s for purposefully driven people.”
The holidays are the perfect time to remind people of the larger “calling” behind their job. At the holiday party, share an example or two that illustrates this—maybe read a thank-you letter from a customer or even invite one to speak on how your company made their lives better.