The holiday season is upon us. For many small businesses, it’s the busiest time of the year. It also signals the end of the calendar year, which is the perfect time to come up with some creative employee recognition ideas.
While thanking your employees should be an ongoing activity, taking the time to do a little extra around the holidays will always be appreciated.
Employee recognition is a key factor in employees feeling engaged, and that engagement can have a big impact on your business performance. Research shows that engaged employees are 17% more productive than their peers.
As a small business owner, you likely don’t have a giant budget to throw a fancy holiday party, and that’s OK. Your employees will appreciate small gestures, and you don’t need to spend a bundle to show them you are grateful for what they do every day. Instead, consider what you can do to say thank you without adding to their to-do list this holiday season.
To help you get creative with how you recognize your employees, we’ve come up with six low-cost employee recognition ideas that you can use during the holidays and beyond.
Employees want to know that you see them as people — not just employees. Giving personalized gifts shows you’ve been paying attention to their likes and dislikes.
Taking the time to handwrite a card to your employees is a great way to personalize your communication with them. Include some thoughts on how their work contributes to the business and the overall team. For an extra wow factor, send the card directly to their home, so it’s a nice surprise in the mail.
Some other personalized ideas to consider:
#1 Find Some Novelty Gifts
When you spend all day at work being sensible, it can be nice to be silly and have a laugh. Choose novelty gifts with funny images, a common office saying or anything else you know will make an employee smile.
A few suggestions:
A mug with a common office saying.
Artwork that reflects their interests or hobbies.
A funny calendar.
A t-shirt or hat.
#2. Spruce up Their Workspace
When people spend so much time at their jobs, things can start to seem a bit like the same-old-same-old. Give your employees’ workspaces a fresh new look to bring a smile to their faces, and show them you want their time at work to be as comfortable as possible. You could include:
A new webcam.
New office supplies.
A branded, standing phone charger.
With the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and a large portion of the workforce working remotely, making sure your employees enjoy their home workspace can help improve their morale during these trying times.
#3. Gift Cards
If you want to be 100 percent sure that your employees get a gift that’s exactly what they want, you can’t go wrong with gift cards.
Depending on what your employees’ interests and hobbies are, you can keep it very general — like an Amazon gift card — or get a gift card for somewhere you know they’ll love.
Possible gift card ideas include:
Food delivery services.
When you’re working from home your employees might need the interpersonal connection normally obtained from the office environment. Plan some holiday-themed activities to keep your team connected.
#4. Virtual Holiday Party
In a traditional working year, most employees look forward to the end of the year holiday party. This gives them a chance to mingle and get to know their fellow employees a little more. Due to this year's unique circumstances, a traditional holiday party may be difficult but not impossible.
Pick a day where your whole team can take some time and hop on a virtual event where employees can:
Show off their holiday decorations.
Share some favorite holiday traditions.
Talk about favorite holiday movies.
Share some family holiday recipes.
#5. Holiday Trivia
Plan a trivia contest for a seven or 10-day period over the holidays. Consider making it a collaborative effort with your team by having them submit questions for the contest. Allow each team member to submit a fun fact about themselves and include those in your trivia deck.
Have two or three questions daily for employees to answer. Include trivia about the business, holiday traditions for different cultures, etc.
Trivia questions can be answered as a solo activity, or employees can be broken into teams. At the end of the trivia period, do a grand prize draw for tickets to a local event and have some prizes for the runners up.
#6. Holiday Dollars for Swag Store
Your employees do great things every day, so why not catch them in the moment?
For the month of December, give out company-branded dollars or gold dollar coins every time you catch someone doing a great job. Involve the entire team by encouraging them to give one another kudos to show their appreciation.
When the month is over, allow employees to redeem their dollars for prizes — small gift cards, company swag, mugs, t-shirts and more.