"12 ways to THANK EMPLOYEES (THAT DON'T INVOLVE A HOLIDAY PARTY)" written inside a christmas designed background

12 ways to thank employees this holiday season

In Recognition and Engagement by Lori McKnight

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season
(that don’t involve a company party)

Spreading cheer and giving thanks doesn’t just have to happen at the end of year holiday party. Here are 12 alternative ways to show your appreciation, boost morale and have some office fun in the weeks leading up to the New Year.

1. Carry Out 5 Acts of Kindness

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season

The holiday season is an opportunity to give and receive, so how about an office Secret Santa exchange. Pull names from a hat and assign a spending limit of $15/person. Over 5 days each employee secretly drops off a small gift with a note of thanks or appreciation to their secret recipient. Guess what? Carrying out these 5 acts of kindness will dramatically improve the happiness factor in the office and get everyone in the spirit of the season.

2. Plan a Holiday Boughtluck Lunch

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season

Yes, Boughtluck not Potluck. This is a twist on tradition. Ask staff to bring in their favorite take-out item. It’s easy, requires very little time or energy and it’s fun to experience different cultural cuisines and menu items. Spring rolls, samosas, potpies, curries… so many great options to share and enjoy together.

3. Schedule a Holiday Spirit Day

Still holding on to the sweater your in-laws gave you last year? Today’s the day to wear it with pride. Dust off the kitschiest holiday attire and lighten the office mood with a few laughs.

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season

4. Plan a Company Coffee Break

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season

Break up the afternoon unexpectedly with a 3pm treat. Play some holiday music, string up a few decorations and set out coffee, tea and light snacks for a mid-afternoon pick me up. It’s an ideal opportunity for staff from cross functions to connect and catch up.

5. Announce a Cubicle Decorating Contest

Nothing like some friendly competition to bring an office together! You’ll be surprised at the creativity and treasures co-workers come up with!

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season
Source: Reddit.com

6. Schedule a Recognition Ceremony

The holidays are a great time to publicly acknowledge service milestones along with project and sales accomplishments from the year.
Announce the ceremony at least one week ahead of time and invite staff to share in the celebration. Mention refreshments will be served and cubicle contest winners or Secret Santa reveals to be announced.

For more tips on how to host a successful recognition ceremony, read on.

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season

7. Donate or Volunteer at a Local Charity

The holidays are particularly hard on the most vulnerable in our communities. Many families are struggling to make ends meet.
Organize a company-wide collection to sponsor a family for the holidays or arrange for team members to volunteer at the local food bank. These are meaningful moments staff will remember and feel good helping others.

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season
Source: Salvation Army

8. Bring Your Kids to Work Day

School is out but many employees are still on the clock. Invite staff to bring their kids to the office for the day. Employees will appreciate the childcare and enjoy introducing their kids to co-workers and their children. Hire a couple babysitters and organize a Christmas movie, crafts and lunch. A visit from Santa or one of his elves would top off the day.

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season

9. Host an In-house Turkey Lunch

What’s better than a home-cooked meal? A home-cooked meal served by your manager! Make a turkey dinner for employees with all the fixings! Ask managers to get involved cooking and serving and then watch the camaraderie begin.

It’s a CSI tradition to put out a big turkey spread for staff every Thanksgiving. It’s become part of the company’s fantastic culture and an event staff look forward to every year.

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season
CSI Thanksgiving Turkey Lunch, 2016

10. Arrange a Low-key Event at the Local Pub

In lieu of a big company holiday party, plan a lower key gathering at the local pub. A cozy atmosphere is more casual, comfortable and budget friendly. Book a large semi-private area, order appetizers and relax getting to know more about your co-workers interests outside of work.

11. Go to the Movies

Play hooky. Pre-order movie tickets for the team and head to the show. Getting out of the office early for an off-site reward shows your staff you value their hard work and it’s a great chance for team members to get to know one another better.

12. Create a Year in Review Wall

12 Ways to Thank Employees this Holiday Season
Source: CEO Friday

An incredible amount of time, energy and hard work occurs in the workplace each year. Have managers recount and praise the actions or traits they most admire about their staff on stick it notes. Post their notes on the wall in a common area. Public recognition is the most meaningful and motivating reward for all ages.

Giving positive feedback and kudos on a job well done, on a tangible wall of fame or through social recognition tools on the CSI STARS platform, is a great way to end the year and set new goals for the year ahead.

Author: Lori McKnight

Lori McKnight
Lori is the VP of Recognition for CSI International Inc. She has a MBA with a minor in Human Resources, is a Certified Recognition Professional and member of the SHRM blog squad. Prior to joining CSI STARS, she worked at Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Youthography, a youth market research agency. Connect with CSI STARS on LinkedIn to learn how we cultivate a workforce that loves coming to work.