With Thanksgiving fresh in our minds, Christmas and the new year will be here before we know it. Between family gatherings, office parties, and the impromptu potluck we all have more on our minds than usual this time of year. And while the holidays are an exciting time for many of us, it can undoubtedly be difficult to stay focused on work during these few weeks.
Unfortunately, we can’t always put projects on hold until the new year either. So, finding ways to increase employee engagement during the holidays can be a game changer for companies. Below are our holiday employee engagement ideas.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
Earlier this year, talks of employee engagement surged as the term “quiet quitting” became viral. From blogs to TikToks to the local news, everyone was talking about quiet quitting and what it really meant.
Ultimately, engagement is at the heart of it all. And if you’re wondering how important engagement really is, a report from Gallup found that businesses that scored in the top quartile in employee engagement have nearly double the odds of success when compared with those in the bottom quartile. Those at the 99th percentile have four times the success rate of those at the first percentile.
This is because engaged employees naturally go above and beyond, welcome challenges, and are eager to help. Conversely, disengaged employees generally perform the bare minimum of their work responsibilities. While the causes for disengagement may range, the outcome is the same for companies.
It’s estimated that disengagement reduces productivity, increases turnover, and costs the economy $500 billion a year.
However, if companies can find ways to engage their employees, the bare minimum will never be the status quo. Not because employers are demanding too much from their teams, but because employees feel their work matters. However, much of employee engagement relies on companies to do what they can to support their employees.
5 Holiday Employee Engagement Ideas
1. Embrace Some Distraction
First, it’s important to preface any engagement efforts with a level of acceptance. If you’ve worked in corporate America through any holiday season you already know that getting work done during this time can be difficult. People are taking time off at different times, which inevitably slows projects or halts them entirely.
Rather than fighting this ebb in productivity, try embracing it. Try building in extra time for due dates, planning for dips in production, and don’t get too frustrated if your team seems extra distractible – giving some leeway once a year won’t hurt in the long run.
2. Give Recognition
The holidays are the perfect time of year to show gratitude for your employees – the end of the year is naturally a time of reflection, and many people are already in generous spirits.
But recognition does more than make people feel good. In fact, a study by the American Psychological Association found that 93% of employees “who reported feeling valued said that they are motivated to do their best at work.” Additionally, 88 percent reported feeling engaged in their work.
Furthermore, research has even found that when employees believe their efforts will be recognized, they’re 2.7x more likely to be highly engaged in their work. In short, recognition makes employees feel valued. When employees feel valued, they’re more likely to be engaged with their work. When engagement is high, businesses perform better.
Why not build distraction right into your schedule with holiday parties, games, and events? Not only is this a fun way to structure non-productive time, but it also makes the office a place employees want to be.
Your office may already be planning some sort of holiday festivity, but this celebratory spirit doesn’t have to be limited to a party. Consider tasking each department with coming up with a holiday treat. This could be bringing in a hot chocolate bar one day or setting up a cookie decorating station another day.
There are all kinds of small festive things you can do to help your team release some of their holiday excitement. These kinds of treats may temporarily reduce productivity, but they’ll also boost morale, which increases engagement in the long run.
4. Offer Incentives
An incentive could be just the thing to motivate your team to stay on-task during the holidays, or to get back on track come January. The right incentive can be what ignites that spark in your employees to push themselves just a bit more than they normally would.
The criteria for winning the incentive will be specific to your company, and possibly each department. But you could offer general incentives, like an extra day of PTO. Or you may choose to give department-specific incentives, like hitting a certain number of leads reached.
Just be sure the goal is achievable, and the prize is something everyone (or almost everyone) wants. If the goal feels too difficult to achieve, you risk your team not trying. And if the prize isn’t something people care about, they have no reason to try.
5. Be Flexible
As we’ve mentioned above, this time of year is the exception to business-as-usual. This is probably true for most of your employees’ home lives as well. Kids are home from school, family may be coming into town, and the to-do list at home has grown exponentially. So, rather than holding strong to your normal routine, try being extra flexible.
This can mean allowing employees to come in early and leave early. Maybe they’d prefer to skip lunch occasionally to head home early. Maybe they need a few hours in the morning free but have time to work in the evenings. Simply showing your team that you’re willing to work with them through stressful times will help build trust. An employee who trusts that their company is on their side is more likely to stick around and be engaged.
Improving employee engagement during the holidays can seem like an uphill battle, but it doesn't have to be. Remember this time of year naturally throws off productivity across the board so try to embrace some level of acceptance. Leading with empathy will show your team that you’re on their side and want them to succeed. With these holiday employee engagement ideas, you’re sure to see engagement increase.