Taking a GLIMMER Approach to Thanking Employees at Year’s End


After a year of hard work and initiative by your staff, it’s time to say thanks. Meaningful year-end thanks is the best way to show appreciation for what has been accomplished over the past 12 months and to give everyone incentive and enthusiasm for setting goals in the New Year.

While executives, managers and department heads have good intentions, it’s not always easy to know how to effectively show gratitude across a large or dispersed workforce. In preparing to wrap up 2020 with a round of applause that will still be heard and felt as we begin 2021, you might consider the GLIMMER approach to thanking your employees this year.

GLIMMER Explained

G – Globally thank people on a broad scale for their contributions to the organization’s achievements over the past year. Whether via conference call, Microsoft Teams or social media, take the opportunity to highlight the organization’s successes over the last year and the teams that made it possible. For multi-national companies or geographically diverse organizations, thanking the entire team drives home the message of “one company – one team.”

L – Locally thank the teams and people in your region, business unit or work group through in-person gatherings. Highlight the specific projects that contributed to the overall company achievements, attempting to instill the sense of community that has been difficult to maintain in 2020.

I- Individually thank the contributors through one-on-one meetings. This level of engagement has been vital over the last year as the pandemic left people feeling isolated in insecure. The end of the year is a perfect opportunity to provide informal, all-important feedback. Authentic expressions of gratitude go a long way toward building strong relationships that will survive this and the next crisis.

M – Map out accomplishments. In whatever format you choose for a year-end recap, use the power of storytelling and journey-mapping to inspire an emotional response that allows you to connect with people, showcasing their role in corporate performance. If appropriate, call attention to the heroes and individuals who drove success over the last year, but stay focused on not alienating teams.

M – Messages of appreciation. The science of human behavior tells us that people are both rational and emotional. The emotional side of the brain is wired to respond to appreciation and positive reinforcement. It’s this side of our brain that connects us to people, teams and organizations. This is vital in creating the psychological contract and a sense of security.

E – Expressions of authentic gratitude. Be open, transparent and real with communications. People can sense your sincerity and value it highly. Whether you do this through hand-written notes, virtual one-to-ones or social media posts, a genuine, heartfelt thank you to the people that make your organization what it is effectively demonstrates what the company values.

R – Recognize and reward outstanding outcomes. Budgets for year-end gift giving probably depend on how many employees you have and how hard this crisis has hit the bottom line. A gift card substantial enough to buy a family a turkey or ham is a nice way to provide recognition while not breaking the bank. Other typical gifts today include time off, cash, tools for the remote office and symbolic gifts that remind people of the company’s identity. Don’t forget the tax benefits of gift giving. You can currently take a deduction up to $25 per person in the United States. See IRS publication 463 for more details.

If you start with a GLIMMER approach, it can quickly evolve to spark engagement and inspiration for the New Year. Whether it’s with a small gift or personal thank you, make your employees feel valued by creating a bonding experience that enhances a sense of belonging to the team and the company.

Photo Courtesy of Stock Photo Secrets

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