3 Ways to Give Back to Employees During the Holidays (That Don’t Involve Money)

Holiday bonuses can go a long way to recognize employees for their hard-work and professional accomplishments throughout the year (as well as motivate them to continue that good work in the year to come). However, there are many creative ways to demonstrate your gratitude that don’t have a monetary value attached.

To inspire the greatest boost to morale, here are three ways to give back to employees that make it clear how much you value their hard work, as well as what exciting new milestones lie in the New Year ahead.

1. Clarify Their Impact on “The Cause”

Here’s a guiding rule of leadership: People will work for money, they’ll work harder for good leaders, but they’ll work hardest for a cause. Every organization has a “cause”–sometimes captured in a mission, purpose, or vision statement.

The cause outlines the organization’s reason for existing. One of the best ways to give back is to show employees how much you appreciate their impact on “the cause.” Their work, time, and how they contribute to the company’s results are all impacting the organizational cause.

Employees who understand how their work tangibly impacts the organization’s stock price, revenue, and overall market performance are going to understand how they impact the cause. These employees tend to take their work far more seriously than those who don’t feel they have an impact.

2. Seek Their Feedback

Before, during, and after the holidays, you’ll always inspire more loyalty from employees who feel like their leaders hear their voice. To steal a line from Uncle Eddie in Christmas Vacation: “It’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through!”

Asking to hear the viewpoints of your people causes them to think critically about the work they produce, which promotes greater engagement across the company.

3. Give Meaningful Recognition

Don’t just hand employees a check at the annual holiday party and go on your merry way — make sure that each employee understands what they did to merit the gift. The more personal this recognition, the better: be it a handwritten card from a leader in the company or a short toast to each employee at the holiday party, people like to feel recognized for the hard work that they put in.

Keep in mind that this rule applies all year round, to raises, performance reviews, and feedback sessions. Decades worth of human performance studies confirm that recognition has a greater impact on engagement, loyalty, and retention than just about any other leadership behavior.

Keep the Holiday Tradition Going All Year

The holidays present an important opportunity to reflect on the year’s highlights and results, both organization-wide and on an individual level. But effective leaders do more: they intentionally link their people’s contributions to the cause, they create feedback loops by consistently seeking feedback, and they present opportunities for recognition all year round.

The festive lights have to come down at some point, but your organization’s commitment to creating a positive culture doesn’t have to.

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