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holidays in the office

5 Fun Holiday Traditions to Start in Your Office This Year

The holidays are a perfect time to have fun with employees and show them a good time. If you’re throwing a holiday party, don’t stop there—54 percent of employees want to feel more “holiday spirit in the workplace,” according to a recent Randstad survey—so start some fun new traditions this year.

If you’re not sure what to do, consider these fun ideas. They’ll keep employees excited all season long, while connecting co-workers and getting everyone into the holiday spirit.

  1. Cook-Off Competition

Who’s the best cook in the office? Find out by pitting your foodie coworkers against each other in a holiday cook-off competition. The first step in organizing your first-annual cook-off is to decide what employees will cook. Choose something fun, like:

  • The best cup of hot chocolate
  • The best holiday cookie
  • The best holiday side dish
  • The best cup of egg nog

The prize? A year’s worth of bragging rights. Perhaps the winner walks away with the “World’s Best Office Chef” trophy, a recognition spotlight, or mug to keep at his or her desk until next year.

  1. White Elephant Gift Exchange

A white elephant gift exchange is similar to a Yankee Swap, but in this case, the focus is on “stealing” gifts rather than swapping them—making it a lot more fun. The good news is: this old holiday tradition is still very relevant. After all, 56 percent of holiday shoppers report buying gag gifts for family or office exchanges, according to the Holidaze 2018 poll.

Host the gift exchange on an afternoon in the office, allowing employees to have some fun on the company clock. Plus, if spouses are at the holiday party, it may be difficult to do the exchange. Not to mention, some employees may not be able to make the party, so this ensures everyone can participate.

  1. Charity Outing

Did you know that 75 percent of employees want to see their company give back this time of year by donating to food drives or charities?

A fun way to celebrate the holidays with your office is by doing exactly that, giving back to the local community. Not only does this bode well for your brand, but your employees get more than just a fun party—giving back increases feelings of purpose, which leads to better sleep and a longer life, as reported by Forbes.

You can host a food drive in the office, or turn it into a group event, volunteering at a local non-profit. cCook a meal for a homeless shelter or host a holiday party at the local Boys and Girls Club. If you’re looking for more options, consider these non-profits:

  • Meals on Wheels
  • Feeding America
  • Ronald McDonald House
  • Local Children’s Hospitals
  • Local Senior Citizens Homes
  1. Gingerbread House Contest

There’s nothing that screams holiday more than a gingerbread house contest. Gingerbread house kits can be costly, so spilt your office or department into teams.

Each team will be responsible for making a gingerbread house within a certain period of time, say 30 minutes. To make it even more fun, set out bowls of extra fixings, like hard candy, sprinkles, and even non-edible elements like mini Santas, reindeer, menorahs, etc. for team members to spruce up their gingerbread houses.

In addition to being fun, this kind of holiday tradition is great for building teamwork and communication skills—while no one’s even thinking about it.

  1. Ugly Sweater Day

The same Holidaze 2018 poll found that 92 percent of shoppers spend between $25 and $50 on an ugly holiday sweater—so give them a reason to wear it with an official Ugly Sweater Day in the office.

To make your Ugly Sweater Day tradition more fun, give away a variety of awards. For example, you may give awards for:

  • Ugliest Sweater
  • Most Creative Sweater
  • Least Ugly Sweater
  • Classiest Ugly Sweater

The prize for these could be the same as the others: a trophy for bragging rights all year long. You could also buy inexpensive stocking stuffers to give as prizes or reward winners with monetary points in a recognition program.

Your Office Holiday Traditions

Have fun with the holidays this year. Don’t just throw a party—celebrate for the entire season with fun contests, gift giving and an official Ugly Sweater Day. Your employees will enjoy having some holiday fun after a long year of hard work and dedication.

To learn more ways to engage your employees during the holidays, check out this blog post.

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

 

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How to Engage Employees During the Holidays

The holiday season brings with it an elevated level of fun and excitement. Unfortunately, the holidays can be chaotic and stressful. All this excitement – and stress – can infiltrate your workplace and hinder morale, decrease productivity, and derail employee engagement. The holiday decorations, parties, and gift exchanges can all be quite overwhelming and easily distract your team.

Through all the hustle and bustle of this time of years, you can still find ways to reduce stress, boost employee engagement, and keep your team on track. Here’s a look at some ideas to enhance employee engagement during the holidays.

Celebrate Successes

The end of the year is the perfect time to look back over company successes. Review the company goals set at the beginning of the year and compare those goals to year-end results. Share the results with your employees. It’s vital that you remain transparent with your team by sharing the good and the bad, but always remaining positive about the future. Remember, your ultimate goal is to keep your team motivated and engaged, not to discourage them.

Take time to celebrate success for the year with your workers. This not only includes company goals that were met, but also look for other achievements, such as the number of new clients, increase in production, improvement in overall attendance, or sales numbers.

Recognize Top Employees

People crave recognition. They want to know they are appreciated for a job well done. Your workers are no different. They want to know that their time, dedication, and hard work is both recognized and appreciated. It’s best to make employee recognition part of the workplace culture all year round. There’s something about the holiday spirit; however, that makes it the perfect time of the year for special recognition.

This holiday season you should be deliberate about making employee recognition a priority. There are many ways you can do this, such as hand-written thank you notes, certificates, awards, social media recognition, and more. One great example is to transform your holiday party into an Employee Appreciation Day where your employees truly are the guests of honor. Use this time to honor your workers for their hard work and their commitment to the company.

Announce Company Goals for the New Year

According to a recent Gallup poll, less than half of today’s workers state that they feel connected to their employer’s mission. This disconnect isn’t because they don’t want to because this same survey shows that 83 percent of workers want to have meaning in the lives. Part of the problem is that employers aren’t sharing their core mission and values with their workforce effectively. With one year coming to an end and new year just around the corner, now is the time to share the company’s vision and goals for the new year with the entire workforce.

‘Tis the Season for Giving

The holidays are the time for giving – so catch the holiday spirit and reward your team. Rewarding your workers isn’t just about handing out gifts, it about creating an experience with your employees to make sure they know how much you appreciate their work. There are many affordable employee reward options, such as gift cards, food, extra paid time off, and more. Establish a recognition and rewards program where employees can choose the rewards that matter most the them.

Employee Volunteer Program

The holidays aren’t just about receiving – it’s about giving too. Many of your employees may want to volunteer but finding time between work and holiday activities may be difficult. You can help your employees out by creating a volunteer program that allows your workers to volunteer during work hours. Volunteering isn’t just good for your workers and the charities; it’s good for business too. America’s Charities calculates that businesses can save between $1,000 and $6,000 per employee by setting up an employee volunteer program.

Offer Flexible Scheduling

With the holiday season being so hectic, the last thing you may want to do is offer flexible scheduling. It’s important to realize, however, that your workers’ personal lives are just as busy as their work lives during the holiday season, which makes it difficult for them to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Encouraging your employees to take time off or leave early to take care of some of the personal holiday responsibilities can help keep them more focused and productive at work. Research done by the American Psychological Association found that workers who remain positive can boost productivity by as much as 31 percent.

Set Realistic Year-End Goals

Several studies have linked unrealistic expectations in the workplace with increased stress. While there’s nothing you can do about some of the chaos brought about by the holiday season, you can minimize its impact on your workers. Understand that the end of November through December is going to be chaotic at work. More people will be taking off, and year-end task must be completed. Take proactive measures to prepare for the end-of-the-year by setting realistic goals that won’t overwhelm your team.

Don’t let the stress of the holiday season hinder employee engagement in your workplace. Instead, take steps now to plan a holiday season that not only will prevent your employee from becoming stressed and overwhelmed, but also will keep productivity and employee morale high. Learn how to develop employee engagement all year long, including the holidays, by downloading our employee recognition e-book now.

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About the Author

Diane Scheidler is a business focused Human Resources executive with significant functional experience in all areas of HR. She has worked in both early start-up and established high growth, Software and SaaS organizations supporting North American, LATAM, and European business units.

Diane is currently the Head of HR for Achievers, where she continually focuses on the employee experience, ensuring a culturally rich and engaging work environment.

Prior to Achievers, Diane has acted in a Sr. Leadership capacity to lead functionally diverse areas of Human Resources for employee populations ranging from 200 to well over 100,000 employees for Samsung Canada, Amazon Canada, Blackberry and Altana Pharma.

Diane currently holds a Master of Human Resources and Organizational Development degree from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor degree from the University of Western Ontario. Diane is also a Certified Compensation Professional.

 
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7 Holiday Ways to Spread Employee Appreciation

While you may do your best to spread seasonal cheer and appreciation, it’s important to keep in mind that this time of year is not all sparkles and snowflakes for your staff. Many of them will be trying to balance holiday schedules and family complications while feeling added stress due to end-of-year work tasks. Furthermore, absences and vacations often leave big holes in staffing right when the duties are most intense. With only 34.1 percent of employees engaged at work without the distractions associated with the holidays, don’t be surprised if the holidays bring a decline in productivity and a decrease in employee engagement.

There is a fix for this. Expressing employee appreciation during the holiday season is a powerful way to build good will that will last long after the candy canes have been composted. Here are seven tips for sharing true merriment (or at least momentary comfort) with your workers over the holidays.

1. Deliver Individual, Handwritten Notes

Almost all our written communications now take place online, so the simple act of putting ink on paper adds a real sense of importance to whatever is being said. Concentrate on each employee’s specific strengths, challenges, and achievements, when acknowledging their contributions on a nice sheet of paper. Avoid using holiday cards for this purpose, because you don’t want it to seem like an obligatory act. Research at Wharton School of Business found that when managers take time to express gratitude to workers, productivity increases by 50 percent.

2. Facilitate Relaxation

Weathering the winter holidays is hard work; a survey conducted by Healthline shows that between 61 to 65 percent of workers feel elevated stress during the holidays due to factors including money, family expectations, heavier work duties, and scheduling and travel demands,. You can brighten everyone’s day by bringing in a massage therapist to offer free shoulder massages or in-chair back rubs. Another inexpensive option that can be helpful is a wrap station. Encourage workers to bring in their stacks of unwrapped family gifts and provide a space with free wrapping paper and various tools and supplies. Employees can socialize during breaks while they get a personal chore accomplished.

3. Be Flexible

Winter weather complicates commuting, and if children’s schools close, you may end up with frustrated employees who are torn between commitments. Letting your people work remotely or adjust their schedules can go a long way toward relieving family stress, and employees will be able to concentrate on job duties if they aren’t having to text a stranded family member. With half of the modern workforce holding a job with some workplace flexibility, this initiative might be one to keep year-round.

If your company’s tasks cannot be handled remotely, you can win huge points by encouraging employees to bring their children to work. Buy a few games or hire a temporary childcare worker; for a small investment, you can earn months of heartfelt gratitude from busy parents. Besides, you’ll be helping your company save money. One snow day in Massachusetts costs the state around $265 million, most of it in lost wages.

4. Provide Free Food

While employees welcome edible contributions any time of year, food is one of the strongest ways to put something tangible behind your holiday employee appreciation campaign. In a workplace survey, 51 percent of respondents said that perks involving food made them feel valued and appreciated by their employers, and the holidays give you a ton of options for fun food treats. Keep some of the offerings vegetarian and gluten free, and include more than sugary desserts if you want to help people concentrate on work. If end-of-year tasks are causing your staff to burn the midnight oil, ordering in some pizzas can make all the difference in people’s commitment to stay until the job is done.

5. Host a Volunteer Day

Building a company culture of volunteerism pays valuable dividends in the form of employee morale and brand perception, according to a Deloitte study. This is especially helpful during the holiday season, because many people get depressed when they feel that celebrations have lost a central purpose of generosity and caring. You can divide staff up into different teams, depending on the volunteer setting, and help with a toy drive, holiday meal program or other community cause.

6. Encourage Employee Recognition

Employees need to feel appreciated by co-workers as well as by supervisors. In a “recognition-rich environment,” according to Gallup, employees who feel adequately recognized (including by their peers) are only half as likely to quit during the following year as those who don’t feel appreciated. The holiday season offers fresh new approaches for co-workers to gift each other, including “Secret Santa” programs and cookie or gift exchanges. Provide the initiative to get the ball rolling, and offer logistical support to any employee who wants to spearhead a recognition program of seasonal fun.

7. Leave the Holiday Party Early

This last tip might sound confusing, but it’s good to start the new year without taking yourself too seriously. Regardless of how cool you are, you’re in a position of authority, and your employees will inevitably feel somewhat self-conscious in your presence. Leadership consultant Tine Thygesen reminds managers that “while bosses are (mostly) nice people, it’s a well-known fact that no one wants to sit next to them at the Christmas party, because then they have to behave.” She urges bosses to show up during the first part of the event, circulate in a friendly way, and then leave while everything is still underway, so that employees can relax and really bond with one another.

Rewards and recognition are an important part of your company culture all year round, however the holiday season provides you with unique opportunities to show your employees that you care. For more handy tips, check out this report: The Art of Appreciation

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Employee Engagement during the Holidays

How to Boost Employee Engagement During the Holiday Season

Keeping your employees fully engaged during the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, is challenging. Workloads can get heavier as co-workers take time off. Employees are thinking about friends and family members who are off work for the holidays. Children are out of school, complicating scheduling. Employees must work extra hours in order to meet customer demands. Managers push their employees harder to meet year-end goals, yet often fail to give them adequate recognition. With only 13% of employees engaged worldwide, it’s especially important not to lose sight of employee appreciation and recognition during the stressful holiday season.

How can you maintain employee engagement under such tricky circumstances? One of the best ways is to ramp up the utilization of employee recognition best practices and reinforce positive relationships between employees and employers. Below are five tips on how to improve employee appreciation and recognition during the holiday season:

  1. Know your employee preferences
    An Ernst & Young survey of global workforces reported that one-third of employees found maintaining work-life balance is getting more difficult. During the holidays, employees have extra demands on their personal time, so maintaining work-life balance gets even more challenging. One way to show your concern for your employees’ well-being during the holidays is to consider their working preferences during such a busy time of the year, such as offering options like flex schedules and the ability to work remote. Also, encourage both in-office and remote employee to recognize and thank coworkers who willingly help fill work gaps when they’re away on vacation.
  2. Communicate year-end goals and plans for the holidays
    Inform employees on your company’s year-end goals and communicate your guidelines and policies for schedule flexibility. Healthline research found that 62 percent of people feel very stressful or somewhat stressful during the holidays. The more transparent your managers are about goals during the holiday season and the more they give employees recognition for successfully meeting them, the more your workforce will believe your organization values their effort.
  3. Plan inclusive social activities to help build a positive culture
    Sponsor holiday activities that encourage your employees to work as a team, such as planning the after-hours Christmas party. Social events can also include service projects, such as a team of employees who donate time to feed Thanksgiving meals to the homeless. Remind employees that they can choose to give back this holiday season by donating their recognition points towards a charity of choice. Motivate others by rewarding the employees that choose to spend their time and/or points towards charity work.
  4. Recognize the holidays and create a festive atmosphere
    Pretending the holidays do not exist in an attempt to avoid work disruption is likely to create employee resentment, says Bob Nelson, president of Nelson Motivation and author of “1501 Ways to Reward Employees.” Acknowledge the holidays and celebrate with festive mood. The holiday period is a great time to recognize people who cook a turkey for the office party, play Santa Claus or decorate the office for holiday cheer.
  5. Give rewards and recognition
    While giving an employee a certificate for a free ham is a nice gesture, it does not do much to increase employee engagement. An employee engagement program focused on recognition and rewards allows coworkers to commend each other for work contributions and successes throughout the year, and especially during the holidays. It also broadcasts achievements to the entire company, boosting morale up and highlighting employee accomplishments on a daily basis.

Employee recognition should not be reserved for the last two months of the year. Businesses need to continue employee engagement efforts throughout the year to keep employee appreciation momentum strong. Employees want to feel recognized every day, and that includes the holiday season. If people recognize each other throughout the year, they enter the holiday period and the New Year as a team working together towards business success.

Take advantage of employee recognition to boost employee morale and appreciation this holiday season. Start by downloading our eBook on how to make recognition an everyday event.

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The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Keeping Employees Engaged Over the Holidays—And After

By Cheryl Kerrigan, VP Employee Success, Achievers

Keeping employee morale and productivity up during the holiday season isn’t easy. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year employees are pulled in many directions, excited—and distracted—with the festivities at work and at home. The key to keeping employees focused, and to continue driving momentum during the last few months of the year is with culture. Managers can engage their teams and keep them productive—and happy—with a few thoughtful steps:

 

1.     Align your team

Do your employees know your company’s mission? More importantly, do you know your company’s mission? If your employee base is aligned to your organization’s mission and business objectives, they’re more likely to stay motivated throughout this busy time of year. When you involve your employees in setting benchmarks for achievable goals, especially as the year winds down, you’ll find they continue delivering the caliber of performance you appreciate the rest of the year. Over communicate individual roles and responsibilities to keep your team aligned, focused, and motivated to succeed.

2.     Celebrate success, every day

Embrace the opportunity to celebrate and thank your employees at work, every day. Employees value immediate feedback so make it a daily habit to recognize your employees for a job well done and you’ll begin to see great behaviors repeated. According to Gallup, 80 percent of employees say that recognition is a strong motivator for their work performance, and 70 percent said they would work harder with continuous recognition. There’s really no reason to put it off. Recognition is a great way to motivate your employees to continue driving results through the excitement of the holiday season, and long after.

3.     Empower employees to work from anywhere

If work-life balance is important to your company culture (it should be), then the holidays are a great time to prove it. Start by defining goals and making sure employees are clear on your organization’s direction. Next, empower them to work remotely or provide more flexibility with hours, so employees can accommodate for family travel and schedules. Show your employees you trust that they’ll get the job done. They‘ll appreciate the flexibility of completing tasks on their own timeline. Come January, you’ll see a refreshed and re-energized team back in the office, ready to tackle new challenges.

 

cheryl-kerrigan
Cheryl is Vice President, Employee Success at Achievers where she is responsible for overall people strategy, which focuses on attracting, retaining, and inspiring top talent. Cheryl brings more than 15 years experience in Human Resources; prior to Achievers, she held an HR Leader position at Eloqua. While at Eloqua, she was responsible for building out the HR function and strategy and attracting and developing the talent to grow the business from 10 million to over 100 million in revenue. Cheryl earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Guelph and a post graduate certificate in Human Resource Management from Seneca College.

 

 

 

 

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