Celebrate
November 24, 2021

Celebrating the Holidays at Work

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Celebrating the Holidays at Work

Many of us spend the vast majority of our time at work contributing to projects, furthering initiatives, measuring success, and driving forward the success of the company. However, no matter where you work or what industry you’re in, it’s important to take time to step back and breathe. That’s one reason why we celebrate holidays at work—they give us a reason to remember what’s most important and why we’re working so hard. 

As an HR leader, however, it can be a challenge to know how to celebrate and reward your employees during the holidays. Do you just do one big holiday party for everyone? Bring in food and play a few games? What if your organization is too large to gather everyone in one place? Let’s talk a little bit about how to celebrate the holidays at work, and how to celebrate employees for all their contributions.

Ways to Celebrate the Holidays at Work

There are many ways to celebrate the numerous holidays at work. Perhaps the most common way to celebrate with employees is to hold one large holiday party at the end of the year. This is a very basic, but also very great way to show your appreciation for your employees. What are some other ways to celebrate?

Secret Santa

Secret Santa gift exchanges are a wonderful way to drum up excitement in the workplace and help people feel engaged. Plus, it helps employees get to know each other in many different ways in an anonymous, relatively risk-free environment. Maybe you didn’t know it but Jane in accounting loves Pokemon. How would you have figured that out if not for Secret Santa? 

Decorating Contests

Traditionally in the typical office environment this particular celebratory happening is reserved for Halloween, but it doesn’t only have to be for spooky season. Gather your teams and decorate for the holidays with a Christmas tree, or perhaps hold a gingerbread decorating event. Teams can build something together and display it where they work as a show of pride and confectionary architectural prowess. 

Holiday Party

Yes, we’re going to mention this again—but not because it’s the old standby! We’re mentioning it precisely because it doesn’t HAVE to be the old standby. Holiday parties can be as simple as a provided lunch or as involved as a swanky Gala. You don’t have to blow out your budget to show your employees you care, just be genuine in HOW you show them. 

Christmas Bonus

Ah yes. The tried and true way to celebrate the holidays: a Christmas bonus! We’re not deriding this staple of holiday celebrations, in fact we’re *celebrating* (see what we did there?) it! Everyone loves being rewarded somehow during the holidays. Rewards convey value and appreciation when done right, and a Christmas bonus can be a great way to help you show your appreciation for all the work your employees have put in. 


Company Activity

Celebrating the holidays AT work is great, but it’s even better when you get out of the workplace and do something with your team. Find an event that everyone can enjoy and maybe even bring their family to. Providing a space where coworkers can gather to enjoy each other's company and forget about work is a fantastic way to build company culture. 

Service Activity

The holidays can be even more special as you provide an opportunity for your teams to give back. All too often the most imposing roadblock to community service is time and knowledge—both things you as an HR leader can provide as you set up an activity where your employees can give back. Find a cause important to your organization and do some good—you might be surprised at how it influences your organization for the better. 

Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace

Not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving or Christmas. In fact, if your workforce is global with over 23,000 employees like our friends at Hertz, the majority of your employees probably DON’T celebrate these two holidays. Educate yourself on the other holidays you can include in your celebrations like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, or even Boxing Day. Try not to assume that everyone celebrates the holidays you do and be as inclusive as possible in your celebrations. Doing so will help your employees feel included and build an even better company culture. 

Rewarding Employees During the Holidays

We’ve talked about celebrating employees, and we can’t do that without mentioning rewarding employees for their good work during the holidays, too. Do you HAVE to reward employees during the holidays? Well, no. You don’t. But you don’t have to wear sunscreen either, so it’s really a game of diminishing returns. Rewarding employees is a great way, as mentioned above, to convey value. So how can you best reward them?


What Is the Best Way to Reward Employees?

The best way to reward employees is to give them the chance to choose what they’d like for their reward. Even if it’s just a small selection, providing choice is a fantastic way to show your employees you care, and when employees feel cared for, they’ll care more about their work. Nothing says “I sorta appreciate you for giving me most of your time” than a knockoff pair of headphones and a ceramic mug, right? 

Think about how you can really wow your employees—and if there isn’t budget to wow them as much as you’d like, think about something that might mean more than just the cost. Try something different than your usual. If you normally do a company lunch, consider giving everyone a gift card in the amount you would have spent on lunch. If you give everyone PTO, think about giving them one more day of it. It’s not going to hurt your organization to put a little more effort into your employees. 


Making the Holidays Successful at Work

A successful holiday season at work is one where employees feel appreciated and seen, no matter what you do for a celebration. Take a moment to think about what they might truly value and see what you can do to fill that gap. Your employees will thank you for it, you’ll engender more employee loyalty, and your organization will see incredible benefits as a result. 

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