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Create an Employee Engagement Strategy to Keep Employees Motivated During the Holidays

Reduce Stress and Capitalize on the Spirit of the Season to Boost Engagement

In the past couple of posts, we have been focusing on new beginnings for new hires. We will continue our onboarding series in the New Year, but for now, we want discuss employee engagement challenges that occur at during the holidays and opportunities for organizations to create an employee engagement strategy to insure meaningful engagement moments with staff.

The holidays can be stressful. Many people feel overwhelmed with personal responsibilities piled onto end-of-the-year reports, deadlines and more. Then add parties, expenses, gift exchanges, events, expectations, and the line between holiday fun and holiday stress is crossed. Organizations can help create a low-stress holiday environment while showing their employees they matter.

  1. Celebrate. Don’t pretend the holidays don’t exist. Be culturally respectful and allow employees to decorate their offices. Be inclusive. But keep the atmosphere relaxed and tension-free. Chaos at work added to the chaos at home is overwhelming. (Yes. Step away from the mechanical dancing menorah.)

  2. Give employees an out. Sometimes the holidays are not a good time for people. When an employee chooses not to partake in the festivities, respect her choice. We have no idea what’s going on in others’ worlds.

  3. Think “small” but engage “big.” Company parties are often big, noisy, after hours (when employees are expected at home), and overwhelming affairs, not to mention costly for the organization. Organize holiday events during work hours. Make intimate, departmental lunches. Keep the groups small and invite, during the course of the holiday season, each department to a special luncheon (either in the board room or at a nearby restaurant). Or cater a dinner, right after work hours, in the office so everyone has a chance to mingle, but nobody’s expected to go home and get “dazzled up.”

  4. Instead of a gift exchange, work with a charity. So often, in the holidays, we spend a lot of money on frivolities. Organizations often have a strategic corporate philanthropy program in place. Have employees come together and do a toy drive, book drive, food drive. Then have a committee bring what the company has collected over the course of the month to share with these organizations. Helping others is a wonderful way to boost an employee’s connection with an organization.

  5. Be flexible. Employees will still have their deadlines to meet and jobs to do. But the holiday season is electric with excitement … and a little too much sugar. Be aware that employees might have a harder time focusing. Nevertheless, keep your expectations high in terms of work they need to do. Just realize it might be done in a bit more chaotic environment.

  6. Employee appreciation is a must. Think about bonuses, gift baskets, and incentives. A little goes a long way. Be forthright if your employees will not be receiving any bonuses due to a tough year, but do not leave them with nothing. A gift is an opportunity to show you are grateful. Look for: wine baskets, gift certificates, gifts for their children. There is a lot of room for creativity here. Indeed, the thought does count.

  7. Celebrate! Yes. It’s the season. Celebrate your employees’ success. I know an organization whose CEO takes the time, during the annual holiday dinner, to write little anecdotes and congratulatory notes to all employees who are celebrating 5, 10, 15 … years of service. There are hundreds of employees, but the CEO does her homework. The notes are witty and they are personal. And it has become a tradition for employees to hear what she’s going to say about them. It’s lovely.


The holidays can be tough, but by implementing an employee engagement strategy to specifically battle the typical low productivity-high stress of the season, you can keep employees engaged and give them a pocket of peace in the chaos outside.

Happy Holidays. And whatever you and your organization celebrate, we wish you peace, health, success, and engagement during this time of year and always!




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