6 Ways to Maintain Employee Engagement During the Holiday Season

Paige looking at smartphone with holiday season scene outside windowWith increased personal and family obligations, preparation and travel logistics, and unpredictable circumstances like winter weather, employee engagement often takes a dip during the holiday season. Consider these six strategies to help keep your employees engaged as the holidays roll around. 

  1. Promote wellness initiatives. Although holidays can be exciting and joyous for many, the festive season adds additional stress to your employees’ lives. For some, the holidays feel overwhelming, adding financial pressures, travel hassles, and potential grief, loss, and loneliness. Engagement requires personal well-being. Use your internal communications to highlight wellness and mental health resources employees can lean on throughout the holidays. Feature benefits like a meditation or yoga series or tele-therapy services.
  1. Offer more flexible scheduling. During the holidays, schedule flexibility is more important than ever. To help employees keep up with their personal commitments and stay engaged with their work, offer more flexible hours or remote options during the holiday season. Consider flexible Fridays, additional PTO days, or an early release schedule before company holidays. With more flexibility, employees can more easily fit productive work into their days. If you need employees to work synchronously, consider instituting a defined set of core (inflexible) hours, a designated day and period of time when all employees must be available (e.g., Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST – translated across time zones).
  1. Recognize your employees. According to QuantumWorkplace, when employees believe they will be recognized, they are 2.7X more likely to be highly engaged. Although recognition is always critical to employee engagement, the holiday season provides an excellent opportunity to express gratitude and reward employees for their hard work and achievements. Such recognition efforts could include financial rewards like bonuses, verbal or written praise like company-wide meeting announcements or personalized thank you notes or other tangible rewards like spa or restaurant gift cards or additional time off.
  1. Foster an inclusive environment. Because not all holidays apply to everyone, take care with your holiday messaging and foster inclusivity and respect.  Be mindful of religious and cultural holidays and accommodation requests (e.g., leave for religious observance).  Help employees appreciate other perspectives and appropriately consider requests in accordance with all applicable laws.
  1. Organize charitable opportunities.  The holiday season is an excellent time to organize and coordinate philanthropic activities, which often foster a sense of community and belonging for employees. Typical initiatives include toy and clothing drives, Angel Tree programs where employees can purchase wish list items for participants, or hot meal preparation in partnership with a local food pantry or community center.
  1. Plan company holiday activities. Of course, a common way to engage employees is with your holiday party or gathering where employees can relax and enjoy each other’s company. During these events, leadership can express their appreciation, and people leaders can organize activities that bring employees together to foster social connections and build camaraderie.  It’s important to consider how you can include remote and hybrid employees in your planning. To avoid overscheduling and protect your employees’ personal time, consider planning these events during the workday.

To keep employees engaged during the holiday season, promote wellness initiatives, offer flexible scheduling options, recognize employees for their achievements, foster an inclusive environment that respects diverse backgrounds, organize charitable opportunities, and plan festive holiday activities with accommodating scheduling. 

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