Project Management Professional (PMP)® Articles - Celebrating the Holidays: Six Ways to Empower and Recognize Employees During the Holiday Season

Celebrating the Holidays: Six Ways to Empower and Recognize Employees During the Holiday Season

The U.S. holiday season is looked at as the finish line for most workers. Only a few weeks separate holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. However, while this is a time of celebration, the holidays can also bring about new stresses.

For example, maybe this is the time of year where you are tying up your last projects or trying to meet accounting and expense deadlines. Closing things out can be daunting, which can contribute to feelings of burnout.

A great way to keep your employee's spirits high as you move into the last part of the year is by recognizing them. Recognition heavily matters to workers. According to a study by SurveyMonkey and Bonusly, 63 percent of recognized employees are very unlikely to look for another job.

Additionally, in a survey distributed by OGO, 40 percent of employed Americans said they would put more energy into their work if recognized more often. Therefore, recognition not only benefits your employees, but it can also have positive impacts on your turnover rate and overall workplace productivity.

Everyone stands to benefit when you empower and recognize your employees, and the effect can be even more significant if you make this a priority during the holiday season.

Therefore, if you want some practical ways that you can begin to build this into your workplace strategies, take a look at these tips:

Commit to Having a Recognition Strategy

Like you have a marketing, sales, and operations strategy, you should also have a recognition plan for your employees. If you don't work to create a framework for this, it will be challenging to make this a consistent activity. A recognition strategy can include ideas, processes, and opportunities for ways employees can earn recognition.

You also want to use this process to determine times for individual acknowledgment and when it is appropriate to recognize your team as a whole. Again, recognition not only benefits your employees, but it can bring advantages to your entire team and company. So, to make this a staple in your workplace operations, you need to set aside time to create an effective recognition strategy.

Create a Spotlight System

While you definitely want leadership to have a huge hand in employee recognition, you also want to utilize the power of colleagues. A great way to build camaraderie and drive teamwork is to allow employees to highlight their co-worker's excellent work. This action could be in the form of a workplace "spotlight" program.

With it, workers can submit names of individuals that they have seen go above-and-beyond their duties to better the company as well as the team members around them. Not only does this make recognition a more equitable process, but it allows your team members to have some power in recognizing others, which creates a feeling of ownership.

Let Them Try New Ideas—And Compensate Them For It

This step is more on the empowerment side, but it is still a powerful form of recognition. Let's say that you have an employee who has been doing a project on the side to help out the company. They could be trying out a new skill they have learned and are experimenting with it. A great way to recognize these efforts is to offer a promotion that incorporates these new skills, provide a pay raise, or even offer a certification.

You want to encourage them to continue to learn and develop— and acknowledging any extra work they are doing is a good first step. So, look at ways to incorporate that into a system where they can be compensated for additional work or for extra roles that they take on. This step creates an environment where innovation is valued and rewarded.

Recognize Them Publicly

This stat may shock you. But did you know that 70 percent of workers who responded to a survey said that meaningful recognition "had no dollar value?" The professionals cared more about the recognition itself than money. As humans, we are wired to care about what other people think about us. When we receive positive feedback about our work, it is empowering and meets our need to be accepted and validated.

So, one of the best ways you can recognize your employees is by doing it publicly. You can use the holidays as a way to do this. Are you having a virtual Christmas gathering? Are you developing any blog posts or articles for an end-of-the-year newsletter? If so, consider acknowledging workers who have contributed their all throughout the year. Use it as a time to publicly recognize the excellent work of your team. They will appreciate it.

Have Goals That You Track for the Entire Year

The end of the year is a time for reflection, and what greater way to recap the entirety of the year than to see what occurred regarding your goals? Did you set any productivity, sales, or operations goals at the beginning of the year or even the quarter? Well, you can keep your team engaged by tracking the progress throughout the year and then revealing the final result at the end. You can use this as a way to celebrate your team if you met the goal or discuss the progress you did make.

Revealing the final numbers could be a defining event of a holiday party or end-of-year meeting. You can even raise the stakes by creating a little healthy and constructive competition between workers or departments. Ultimately, if you met the goals, you want to find a way to reward everyone. This action could be in the form of gift cards, an extra day off, or other workplace perks. Again, having a goal that you are tracking for the entirety of the year gives everyone something to look forward to as the holidays approach.

Just Say Thank You

This entry may seem like a simple step, but it is effective. Think about the last time you did something meaningful for someone. How did you feel when they said, "thank you?" Those two words can pack a big punch when it comes to making someone feel valued. It can even increase trust and improve relationship building.

You want to have a way to convey this to your teams. This action can be in the form of a video that is a collection of meaningful moments throughout the year that commemorates the work everyone has done, a personal letter signed by the CEO, or a video message from all of the company's leadership

When doing this, be sure to have specific things that you are thanking your teams for. These things could include goals met or even the way your teams handled a challenging time. It can be easy to forget to say thank you, but these words are an essential part of recognizing and empowering your employees.

A Little Appreciation Goes a Long Way

You never know what your team members are going through. Everyone has challenges that they face daily, and many of your workers are likely setting that aside to do the work that is expected of them.

Additionally, the end of the year can stress those trying to tie up loose ends at work and home. Creating moments to appreciate what they have done will go a long way in making them feel valued and appreciated. This action builds stronger bonds between your employees and your company, making it more likely that they will stick around for the long haul.


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