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7 Unique Ways to Show Employees Your Appreciation This Holiday Season

Here are a few suggestions for how best to celebrate your staff in an unprecedented holiday season.

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This holiday season is like no other in history. As we all shelter at home, wear masks, and keep our loved ones and ourselves safe while keeping our social distance, it’s important that we mark this time of year and celebrate. Here are seven ways to show employees that their work and their time (especially this year) is appreciated.

Why Showing Your Appreciation Matters

Whether you’re a CEO or a boss, you must make it vital to celebrate the wins of your employees, especially in the time of the coronavirus—even if those wins mean we’ve all simply survived the incredible difficulties of 2020.

You might be tempted to save a bit of money and take a pass on celebrating your employees this year. But doing so can significantly negatively impact your employees and your business’s future success. A 2017 study commissioned by Gallup shows that a majority of employees feel their hard work goes unnoticed and unrecognized. That, in turn, makes them nearly twice as likely to quit in the next year, according to the study. Now isn’t the time to skimp on employee appreciation.

More than 70 percent of workers are currently working from home thanks to the global pandemic, and many of them say that they are saving as much as $500 per month on various work-related expenses. Yet one in five people surveyed for the State of Remote Work Report, conducted by Owl Labs, report working more hours per week. That means that while your staff is saving more money, they’re working a whole lot harder. Add in the stress of managing children or the rest of the family, and you’re looking at some stressed out and potentially burnt-out employees.

That’s part of the reason it’s crucial to offer employees some token of appreciation at the end of the year or beginning of the new year. As I have written before, it’s vital to engage with your employees, as a leader and as a cheerleader-in-chief, to ensure that you’re retaining a diverse, talented, and engaged workforce. Creating simple celebrations and acknowledgments of success can go a long way toward empowering employees. Your employees are your most valuable asset and your biggest and best brand ambassadors. If you are interested in keeping them, you must support and celebrate them during this challenging period.

How Best to Show Your Appreciation in the Time of Coronavirus

Gifts or events that communicate appreciation cannot be empty gestures. Employees are savvy, and they know when you’ve just phoned it in or slapped your company logo on another water bottle to say thanks.

It’s also essential to understand the difference between employee appreciation and employee recognition. Many times the two phrases are conflated, but they mean slightly different things. Employee appreciation is celebrating an employee’s value as an individual contributor and person, while employee recognition acknowledges excellent employee behavior.

While I have written before about how best to celebrate your employees in lieu of a holiday party, it’s important to realize that offering employees something they can use or do in their homes is a really important part of showing employee appreciation this year. People have come to value their connections this year more than ever, and it’s nice to have something as a touchstone to represent their contributions. Here are a few ideas for how best to celebrate your outstanding staff.

Gift Cards

While they may seem impersonal in regular times, gift cards these days can be incredibly valuable to workers. We’re all trapped in our homes, relegated to online shopping and delivery meals. Being able to splurge on something we want (or need) thanks to a gift card is one way to celebrate the fact that we’ve all survived (and perhaps even thrived) through 2020.

Gift cards are a great option, especially because employees can use them to meet needs that you, as a boss or leader, may not know about—especially if you decide to opt for a credit card–style card that can be used anywhere. Gifting employees a $100 gift card can help them make their home office more comfortable or help them get an extra gift for their kids.

Have a Remote, Catered Zoom Lunch

It’s probably been eons since you have had a face-to-face meeting, so doing something as simple as having a meal together can truly help alleviate a lot of holiday stress and give employees the opportunity to connect and relax around this time of year. Get everyone’s home address and arrange to have lunch sent to their homes on a set day at a set time. Set up a Zoom meeting and have everyone bring their lunch and connect for an hour to talk, blow off steam, and plan for the new year. We all need to feel connected to our work and our coworkers, and you can facilitate that by planning a catered, remote lunch.

While you’re at it, you could also plan a “bring your kids to work” Zoom lunch that could help some of your employees’ kids connect, too. Since the line between home and work is increasingly blurred, it pays to get to know what your employees’ family lives might be like. Allowing families to connect can be really valuable.

Gift Coins

It may seem like an unconventional gift but sending employees U.S. legal tender coins can be a very thoughtful way to celebrate their wins this year. For one, coins can be small, valuable gifts that will be cherished for years to come. They’re also timeless and never go out of style.

Coins also make great employee gifts because they could increase in market price and help your employees improve their financial wellness over the long term. Some coins that are very affordable today could increase over time, and they make a great hedge against inflation, too.

Finally, coins make great gifts because they are so unique. Some coins, like those offered by U.S. Money Reserve (USMR), are limited runs. That means once those coins are sold, there won’t be any more made. If you’d like to learn more about gifting coins and what you might need to know about them, you can check out the information in our Knowledge Center on the USMR website.

Donate to a Charity on Employees’ Behalf

If you’d like to both do some good in the world and show your appreciation to your employees, donating to a charity on your employees’ behalf can be a great way to celebrate the end of this year and the beginning of the new year. Now more than ever, we all need to step up and support those who need it most, and charities could all use our help. Perhaps you and your team build homes for veterans each year, but COVID prevented that from happening in 2020. You could donate a set amount of money per employee to that same charity to help it continue to do good work. While employees might not have the cash to spare for charities of their choice this year, you can still show them that you appreciate them by donating to a charity in their name.

Purchase Technology Gifts That Make Working from Home a Bit Easier

Does everyone have trouble hearing each other on Zoom? Are most of your employees hard to see when you’re on a videoconference? Technology gifts might be the perfect holiday gift for your staff! Consider sending everyone a ring light to make seeing them a bit easier. Pick up some affordable Bluetooth speakers to send so that everyone is sure to have crystal-clear sound on your next Zoom meeting. Both gifts can make home office spaces that much more comfortable and make your next videoconference a lot more enjoyable.

Sign Your Staff up for a Wellness Platform

Everyone is going to start making New Year’s resolutions soon, so it’s time to start thinking about how you can support your employees in pursuit of better health. Plenty of great wellness platforms on the market today allow you to log in and take a variety of classes in the comfort of your own home. Gifting a year- or six-month-long membership to a wellness platform of your choice can be a great way to show your employees that you actually care about how they are treating themselves in these tough times. By gifting them wellness, you can ensure that they have access to tools to take good care of their physical and mental health, too.

Gift Them Time

Time and money are some of the best employee appreciation gifts you can give your staff. Allowing them to take additional downtime, especially around the holidays, can mean that they come back to work refreshed and ready to do their best. Consider offering an extra couple of flexible days of holiday time off or allowing them to cut their very long workdays short a few days one week. Either way, your employees will appreciate it.

The Bottom Line

Whatever you do, don’t just go with another logo-ed bauble this year to show your employees that you appreciate them. It’s rare that employees hang onto those items or appreciate them, and ultimately you could just be wasting money. It’s far better to put a little bit of thought and effort into your appreciation gifts. Whatever you choose, be sure it’s relevant and something of value. In the days of coronavirus, leaders must support their staff and make them feel as valuable as possible. Now that we’ve weathered the storm of 2020, we can come together in 2021 stronger and better than ever.

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