Boost Employee Engagement With Some Holiday Cheer


Has the COVID-19 quarantine and rise of remote work made it harder for companies to celebrate the holidays?

Decades ago the holiday office party was a staple, an event where staff got to know each other outside of work, have a few drinks, and exchange presents. Companies also got to give their employees gifts or bonuses to say thank you for 12 months of hard work.

It’s unclear whether these parties will ever come back, yet according to a new study the exchange of holiday gifts had already been on the decline for years.

While holiday parties give everyone an opportunity to unwind and bond, they’re also the perfect venue for employee recognition, which research has shown keeps staff happy, engaged, and productive.

READ: How Recognition Improves Employee Engagement and Company Culture

Discover the importance of a little holiday cheer in your office:

The Benefits of Gifts

New research from Snappy, an all-in-one gifting platform, found that 72% of employees didn’t receive a holiday gift in 2020. In fact, 34% of those respondents have never gotten one.

This new research indicates that office traditions have been shifting. More emphasis has been put on productivity and gains, and less on employee culture and engagement. In some cases, gifting may have been axed years ago to save money or boost profit margins.

Not spending money on gifts seems like a smart business decision at first, but over time it could erode a company’s sense of community. 

We now live in a world where employees only stay at their jobs for about four years and millions of frustrated workers quit their jobs as part of a trend coined “The Great Resignation.”

Holiday gifts or bonuses could be one tool to improve employee engagement and retention. Six out of 10 employees would be more likely to stay at their job if they received meaningful holiday gifts from their employer, according to Snappy’s research.

But, it turns out there’s something more powerful than material goods, and that’s appreciation.

Good Culture Starts With Recognition

Ask anyone who has quit their job during “The Great Resignation” why they did it. A few may say they wanted more money or a senior position, yet the vast majority were tired of feeling like automatons dealing with higher workloads and no support. Effective recognition is the key to boosting employee engagement and retention. It helps create a sense of belonging at work, which has tremendous implications for employers.

Research from BetterUp, a behavioral science consultant firm for large companies, determined that employees who feel as if they belong are 167% more likely to recommend their company to others. Companies with employees who felt this way also experienced a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% decrease in turnover, and a 75% reduction in sick days.

And what did Snappy have to say about employee recognition? It turns out 52% of the workers they surveyed were more interested in receiving recognition than end-of-year gifts.

READ: How to Show Gratitude to Your Employees

Implementing Employee Recognition Strategies

Snappy’s research is good news for companies without a huge budget to invest in holiday gifts. Recognition is just as effective and it’s free. Managers can express gratitude to their employees by sharing timely praise on a task, being specific with what they did well, and communicating in a sincere tone.

Studies have shown that some managers aren’t providing the type of feedback that resonates with employees, and others avoid it altogether. Focusing on giving more feedback is free, but it requires some managers to work hard at shifting their mindsets. They’ll need to stay vigilant about observing behavior and getting to know what works for individual employees. These cultural changes work even better if they’re companywide, with a priority on employee engagement, recognition, and inclusion that runs from the top-down.

Holiday Season Kick-Off

There’s no doubt it’s been a hard year for everyone. The holiday season is a great time to boost your employee engagement with gifts or establish a new recognition program.

Interestingly, many companies turn to gift cards over the holidays but employees see it as impersonal. Many of them also forget to use gift cards. It may take more time or effort to pick out a unique gift for employees, but if “The Great Resignation” has taught us anything, it’s that employees are no longer accepting the status quo.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk for Pexels

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