Keeping employee spirits bright this holiday season

Monday, December 7: Employee Secret Santa (CANCELLED)
Friday, December 11: Kids’ Holiday Party with Santa (CANCELLED)
Friday, December 18: Employee Holiday Party (DEFINITELY CANCELLED)

If your company is anything like ours, the holidays are the best time of the year. But because it’s 2020 and COVID-19 continues to dominate our lives, the holidays just won’t be the same this year. This means, for most of us, the traditional December celebrations—like holiday parties and shenanigans—are cancelled or, even worse, virtual!

It’s not just in-person holiday celebrations that are being called off this year. Companies around the world have struggled to keep their heads above water due to the pandemic, which means budgets have been cut. In some case, that means layoffs. With morale low and budgets tight, it can be hard to find the right way to incorporate culture into the holiday this year.

And if you can’t have your annual holiday party bus/bar crawl—which as MBBers know, you never miss—is there any point in even trying? The answer is yes. Because at the end of the day, it was never about the party anyway.

We’ve got 5 ideas to keep employees engaged and feeling the love this holiday season:

Send your employees a little something.

If your budget allows, don’t miss this opportunity to send a gift. We all like receiving gifts, even if it’s as impersonal as a gift card. Whether it’s an electronic gift card or a calendar for their desk in 2021 (er, mid-2021?), anything is appreciated. Or maybe instead of having your annual company lunch, you send each employee lunch (think restaurant gift cards) to eat at home while getting on an all-company Zoom. Sure, it’s just not the same, but nothing is this year.

Let your team know you care.

Individualized holiday cards go a long way. Reaching out and letting your team know that you genuinely care about them and their families, especially during the holidays, is meaningful. If nothing else, it makes employees feel seen and, more importantly, valued. And sometimes feeling valued is worth more than a $100 Visa gift card.

Fine, have a virtual party.

But make it good at least. Consider an ugly holiday sweater theme. Possibly provide individuals with the drinks and food. Even invite a mixologist or wine sommelier to teach the crew something new. Make it worth people’s while. Because there is nothing worse that sitting on yet another Zoom call waiting for it to end so you can resume binge-watching your favorite Netflix show.

Extra time off to celebrate the holidays with loved ones.

This year has been stressful for everyone. We’ve all felt the effects of the pandemic, and after nine long months, we’re growing pretty weary. Give your employees what they need the most—rest! Sure, some of us won’t be “resting” per say, if we have little ones at home, but perhaps we can give our minds a rest from a long year of nonstop work.

Hold an airing of grievances.

If it’s not the holidays, it can at least be a Festivus. We’ve all had a tough year; let’s not pretend it’s been anything but that. Call 2020 what it is—a dumpster fire—and embrace the opportunity to stray from the typical holiday celebration. Find something that you think your team would enjoy and do that. Don’t feel tied down to the classic Christmas traditions. This year, traditions are like high-fiving a co-worker. They just aren’t happening.

At the end of the day, it’s not about getting gifts or even getting tipsy on a party bus in front of your CFO. It’s never really been about the holiday party at all. It’s about celebrating making it through a year of ups and down together. It’s about surviving growth and setbacks with people who support you. It’s about showing appreciation for everything you give to your company, and everything they give back to you. Whatever you do this holiday season, treat your employees better than 2020 treated you.

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