Employee Engagement During the Holidays

The holiday season, between the times of Thanksgiving and the New Year, is one of the most hectic and chaotic periods of the year- for both employees and companies alike. In this time of appreciation and charity, maintaining high levels of employee engagement is critical. The difficulty can stem from both the employees and employers. For some employees, the holidays are littered with many variables, such as having family members not working while they are, managing heavier workloads as coworkers take time off, overtime opportunities, managing their children being out of school, and travel. Employers have complex projects and year-end-goals to meet, which typically translate into pushing employees harder, and often without adequate recognition. The holidays also often experience tumultuous weather combined with cold and flu season, which further exacerbates the already high-stress levels.  

So how do you go about maintaining or even raising employee engagement during these demanding times? We recommend increasing the practice of employee recognition and reinforcing valuable relationships between all levels of employees, from executives to junior levels. Here are some concrete tips on how to promote such improvements to employee engagement during the holiday season: 

1. Understand the likes and dislikes of your personnel and act accordingly 

Whether your employees value work-life balance, flexible scheduling, remote work, or added perks and benefits, one great way to show interest for your employees’ happiness during the holidays is to consider their working preferences in such a hectic time of the year. Extending options such as the ones listed above will serve to relieve some of that unnecessary stress and tension from their lives. 

2. Be transparent in conveying strategies for the holidays and year-end objectives  

Clearly articulate to your workforce your organizational end of year goals and communicate policy guidelines surrounding the holidays. The more managers convey targets, and the more they acknowledge their employees for meeting them, the more their workforce will feel valued for their hard work. Additionally, by having clear objectives outlines ahead of time, both employees and employers can prepare to manage work expectations in conjunction with all of the other competing priorities. 

3. Strategize and develop social events to aid in the creation of a positive company culture  

If executed improperly and ineffectively, organizing holiday parties and get-togethers can backfire, causing more unwanted stress and headache to an already frenzied time, especially if viewed as wastes of time or resources. However, sponsoring festive activities that promote employees to work as a team, such as collectively planning volunteer projects, donation drives, or another event that allows them to give back this holiday season, can motivate and bring staff together. 

4. Acknowledge the holidays and foster a festive environment  

Whether all, or some, of your employees celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Yule, or any other holiday, it is imperative to recognize the holidays and celebrate with a festive atmosphere. Pretending that everything is status quo and that the holidays don’t exist in an effort to keep minds off festivities and on-task is likely to create antipathy. This season is a wonderful time to recognize those who put in the effort to better the office, such as those who roast the turkey for the department’s holiday party, decorate for cheer, or dress as Santa Claus. 

5. Provide incentives and recognition  

While giving employees a certificate for a free turkey is a nice gesture, it does not do much to boost employee engagement. An employee engagement program focused on recognition and rewards allows peers to praise each other for work contributions and achievements throughout the year, and especially during the holidays. It also broadcasts triumphs to the entire company, enhancing morale and emphasizing employee accomplishments on a daily basis. 

Creating, maintaining, and fostering employee engagement programs throughout your organization is not only beneficial for employees, but also for the vitality and productivity of the business. It is imperative to cultivate a culture around engaging employees because it is exactly those employees who have the most impact on output. You wouldn’t go on a road trip with an old car that has not been serviced in a few years, so why would you set out to produce a product or service with a team that is disengaged and unhappy? Sustaining the practice of employee recognition and reinforcing valuable relationships between all levels of employees is the most sure-fire way to organizational cohesion and effectiveness. 

*Disclaimer* Waiting until the year-end to enact policies affecting employee engagement is like waiting until the month before a marathon to start training. As with most facets of life and business, employee engagement is optimally acquired when best practices have been continually implemented for a long period of time. Do not expect monumental results if the effort and maintenance are not kept up or committed to. 

Percipio Consulting Group, Inc.