Mark Keeton, Vice President
Gallup research tells us that most employees don’t feel appreciated. Sure, there are a handful of employees who will never be happy but that doesn’t mean you should cater to that group.
Instead, focus on the employees who are happy and engaged at work and those who can be engaged. There’s no better time to cultivate a culture of gratitude than the holidays. This is the time your recognition and rewards program can shine and make employees feel appreciated and valued. According to the Advertising Specialty Institute’s, “2018 Corporate Gift Giving Survey,” 42 percent of companies plan to give their employees gifts this year.
Holiday gifts are an opportunity to say thank you and to make employees feel valued. They also are opportunities to build brand and loyalty. Choosing company gifts, however, is fraught with challenges. Will the employees like the gift? Will they think the gift is lame? What will make our employees feel most valued?
In a general one-size-fits-all culture, you could give cash and assume that employees will be happy with the extra money. But, there are potential problems with giving cash at the holidays: Do it too many times in a row and employees will develop an expectation of a holiday bonus and consider it part of their compensation package rather than a special reward to show appreciate at the holidays. And, if heaven forbid, your company has some business issues and you aren’t able to provide the expected holiday bonus, there’s the possibility of creating resentment with a lesser gift.
And, definitely don’t gift based on tenure. Not only is that a breeding ground for resentment, you’re also sending the message that sticking around for a long period of time — regardless of performance — will earn you more money or a snazzier gift.
If it’s possible, give employees a personalized gift that helps them know you were thinking of them specifically. If that’s not practical, there are many options to create gift experiences that will come across as thoughtful and caring.
So, what to do to provide the very best holiday experience for your employees? Consider these alternatives that will make employees feel valued:
- A handwritten note thanking employees for their work or a general note to all employees acknowledging good work throughout the year and wishing them well during the holidays.
- Some additional time off, if possible, without the worry of work.
- A company-wide email vacation. This one in particular is helpful if you have employees who are glued to their phones and are constantly sending and receiving emails for fear of missing out. This is most effective when established and followed by senior leadership. Unless there is a major customer issue, give your employees the gift of uninterrupted time with family and friends.
- Give your employees a choice of products so they may choose what will be most special to them.
The bottom line: Giving holiday gifts will help employees feel valued and will build loyalty and it’s an annual opportunity to show your appreciation. Choosing just the right gift will help create an attitude of gratitude for your company.