It is that time of the year – the holidays. The general tone of the workplace shifts during the last month. Vacation plans emerge, work slows down. Hence, this might actually be the prime time to show your employees some much-needed appreciation and close the year on a high.

Remember – it need not be a grand or expensive appreciation. The little things, like just saying thank you, make all the difference. Research has shown that grateful feelings enable people to savor positive experiences, cope with stress, and strengthen social relationships. It is also associated with higher levels of well-being and increased positive emotions.

Here are some creative ideas for expressing appreciation:

  1. Encourage people to take a break. If possible, for at least a week. On their own, employees might worry about taking leave, thinking they’ll become redundant or that they won’t be able to catch up on work. But, a study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior shows that people experience increased work engagement when they return from vacation. Quite the benefit, right? So, assure people that it’s okay to not work this holiday season! It’s an act of generosity.
  2. Initiate a mail trail. There is nothing more heartfelt than a personal appreciation. Can you initiate a team activity where each person sends a short note of personal gratitude to every other person in the team? It could even be a handwritten note. Keep it short, say 50 words, and specific. Personal notes activate our brain’s ‘reward center’, making people feel accomplished. It also activates the Law of Reciprocity which says, “If you make me feel good about myself, I will find a way to make you feel good about yourself.”
  3. Bring in their family. Choose a day when you ask your employees to bring in their family to the workplace – kids, spouses, parents, and maybe even pets. Organize a ‘social hour’ where they get to meet each other and see the workspaces. Plan a potluck meal, arrange onsite baby sitters, or organize some games. This is a wonderful way to show your people that their personal lives matter.
  4. Offer a remote working week. If a vacation is not possible, let people work from their homes for a week or 10 days. Save them commute time. Open up the possibility of their being able to work from a more relaxed space. The message this sends out: we care for your ease and are willing to cater to your needs. This can allow people to travel to places where their families are, without feeling guilty about leaving work.

It might feel easy to get wrapped up in the hustle-bustle of holidays with our families. But it’ll go a long way to keep in mind the work family we have. How else can you make your teams feel special? Tell us.

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