Your team members have shown up and powered your business through a year of unprecedented change and turmoil. Now, as this stressful and tumultuous year is finally drawing to a close, it’s time to show your workforce just how grateful you are for their contributions.
Here’s how to signal your gratitude to your team for their contributions during a difficult year.
Loosen Up Holiday Schedules
2020 has been an extremely stressful year, and many people would really appreciate some extra time to relax with their families for the holiday season. Others would happily cover during the holidays in exchange for extra time off later. Have direct managers talk with each team member to find out what would best meet their specific needs, regardless of whatever schedules and frameworks were followed in the past. “Understand what each individual employee is looking for throughout the holiday time,” says Anthony Vaughan, co-founder of the E1B2 Collective and host of the E1B2 Collective podcast. “Audit the work that they need to get done, look at the workflows, and figure out how you can make adjustments.”
Because not everyone celebrates the same holidays in the same ways, flexibility is key. Some employees may choose to work more at the end of the year in exchange for time off at another time.
Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Recognition
Even in a year of turmoil, peer recognition and creating a fun place to work are critical drivers of employee engagement and satisfaction, according to research from Bonusly. There is a correlation between highly engaged employees and organizations with a peer-recognition program. “People actually appreciate peer-to-peer recognition sometimes more than recognition from the company as a whole,” says Angela Howard, founder and CEO at ARH Clarity Consulting. Dedicated recognition platforms, such as WorkHuman, are great for enterprise organizations, and smaller firms can use Microsoft Teams, Slack or another group communication tool to nominate each other for recognition.
You can align this recognition with your core values, too. Ask team members to think about a specific occurrence when a colleague exemplified one of the company’s values in action. Encourage interdepartmental interactions. Maybe a machine operator on the manufacturing floor had a great experience getting questions answered transparently from someone in HR, for example.
Host a virtual recognition event, and invite employees to share stories of helping each other at work throughout the difficult year we’ve had. Make it interactive, and consider small rewards (like $5 gift cards) for participation. “It’s really about curating that experience,” Howard says. “Instead of just a PowerPoint presentation, actually get the nominators to tell their story about the person they're nominating.” Group storytelling is a powerful tool for building culture, driving engagement and commemorating the hard work your employees put in this year.
Show Generosity Through Gifts and Perks
Budgets may be too tight to increase salaries or deliver large bonuses, but look for ways to broadly share the resources you do have. This could include asking executives to forgo part of their compensation to fund small bonuses or gifts. “Without your employees, you have no business,” Vaughan points out. “If your executives give back to keep benefits and bonuses in place, your employees will be so grateful for that.”
This could include additional funding for learning and development to help your workforce stay engaged and competitive in times of unprecedented change. Or you could invest in a companywide subscription to a food-delivery or housecleaning service to make your employees’ lives away from work a little easier. Your employees will appreciate the benefit, and your company will earn loyalty for being kind during a year of hardship.
Looking for more ideas on how to support your employees during tough times? We've created a guide with concrete ideas to enhance employee morale at your workplace.