The holiday season is a reflective time, and as company leaders look back on the past year of challenges and accomplishments, it’s important that they show gratitude to their employees – and not make it a rare occurrence.
Research has shown a strong correlation between employee recognition and employee retention. Specific to the holiday season, one survey found that about 60% of employees would be more likely to stay in their job if they received meaningful holiday gifts from their employer. As the “Great Resignation” sweeps the country, employers should be mindful of making the holidays the “Great Appreciation” for their best employees and making it a habit. says Michele Bailey, ForbesBooks author of The Currency of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures into Powerful Business Results.
“As leaders reflect, those who haven’t made gratitude a core value of their organization should strongly consider it going forward into next year,” Bailey says. “The current context of workers leaving in droves basically demands it. And the holidays are the perfect time for leaders to set a new tone and show they are sincere about showing appreciation on a consistent basis.
“This really benefits everyone in an organization; led by the leader, everyone is influenced to show gratitude for each other. When you make gratitude a habit and recognize the value of the contributions of your colleagues, you encourage them to strive for greater results. And your business will inevitably grow as your team members champion your brand.”
Bailey offers five ways leaders can express gratitude to employees during the holidays and make the practice a regular feature of their organization:
- Prioritize mental health. The nearly two-year-long pandemic has added anxiety for millions of workers, and every holiday season many people experience increased stress and depression. Therefore, Bailey says it’s vital that company leaders keep these factors in mind and check on the mental health of their employees. “Lots of employees feel burnout this time of year, and remote workers can feel more isolated,” she says. “Make sure to check in with your people one-on-one and in small groups. Let them know that you care.”
- Give praise. “By publicly praising an employee or team who has done an outstanding job, you make them feel valued,” Bailey says. “This can boost their confidence and their enthusiasm for the company. A personal handwritten note also goes a long way with an employee. The holiday season is an ideal time for the leader to champion their top people and energize them going forward into next year.”
- Make gifts meaningful. Bailey says leaders should put a good amount of thought into gift-giving as a reward for employees, showing a personal touch and making it something useful and memorable. “They don’t have to be expensive,” she says. “The value is in the thought. And along with material gifts, consider experiential gifts, which allow the recipient to have an experience that ties in with their interests.”
- Give paid holiday leave. “Extra time off during the holidays to be with family is a bonus in itself,” Bailey says. “As work-life balance becomes more important to employees nowadays, this is the time of year when employers should show they’re sincere in making that happen.”
- Survey your teams on what they need for next year. This is a way of paying your gratitude forward, Bailey says. “The holiday season and end of the year are a great time to tune in to your teams and listen to how you can help them do their jobs better next year. Being heard and having their thoughts turned into action by management help your employees feel appreciated.”
“If your work culture is not operating with gratitude,” Bailey says, “not only will the holidays feel a bit empty, but your potential as a company will remain unfulfilled.”
Michele Bailey is the ForbesBooks author of The Currency Of Gratitude: Turning Small Gestures Into Powerful Business Results. She also is founder/CEO of The Blazing Group, a brand and culture agency born of her strategy-first approach to business and desire to enhance employee wellness in pursuit of business goals. She is also the founder of My Big Idea®, a mentoring program designed to propel individuals toward their personal and professional goals. Bailey has been recognized for contributions to women and entrepreneurship with honors such as the Bank of Montreal Expansion & Growth in Small Business Award and the Women’s Business Enterprise Leader Award in 2020. Bailey is a popular speaker and is also the author of a previous book, It’s NOT All About You, It’s About the Company You Keep.