Rocking Employee Holiday Rewards

Did you know that 70% of employees say that motivation and morale would improve “massively” with managers saying thank you more, and that 83% of employees say they would feel more appreciated, work harder, feel motivated, and have more loyalty towards their company if they received a holiday incentive*?

This doesn’t mean you need to drain your company bank account to throw a lavish party, but it does mean it’s worth understanding what is meaningful to your people.  And there is a thoughtful way to thank your team no matter what your budget is.

Whether you decide on a party, a gift, or a charitable contribution in your team’s name, the bottom line is that showing that you are thinking about your team members as individuals and taking the time to recognize them in a meaningful way is what matters.

Here are some suggestions to really rock your employee holiday rewards:

  1. More time with family and friends.  We live in a fast-paced world where we seem tethered around the clock to either our smart phones or computers.   Consider giving your team more time off during the holiday season as a thank you. This, paired with a nice handwritten note and encouragement to turn off during the holiday season, can go a long way.
  2. Throw a Party. Heck, I love a party…many people do.  An evening event, or lunch, or group activity can be a great way to celebrate the end of a year together.  Getting people into a social setting where they can relax and enjoy each other’s company is a great way for your team to bond. Just keep in mind that parties are not for everyone. Something too big or too forced can alienate people who feel uncomfortable in those types of settings. Think about the the people on your team, and choose something that will suit as many personalities as possible.  If a large and confined social setting is not ideal, how about taking everyone to a play or a movie, or choosing an outdoor activity like walking through a holiday light display, or going skating.
  3. Charitable Giving or Volunteering. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on gifts and/or a party, you could spend a day with your team volunteering for a charity, or make a charitable contribution in everyone’s honour. This is another great way to bring your team together in a non-work environment and make a positive impact as a team.
  4. Branded Gift. If you want to promote employee health in the New Year and decide that the best way to do so is to buy everyone a branded water bottle – by all means, go for it.  But while it’s certainly easy to order 100 logo-branded water bottles and call it done – the gift would carry more weight if you took the time to write a note linking the water bottle to a thoughtful intention (less plastic waste, or better health in the new year) and sincerely expressing your appreciation for their hard work this year.
  5. Individual Gift and/or Handwritten Card. Nothing says “I pay attention to what you like, and think of you as valued individual” more than a hand-picked gift. Pair it with a thoughtful note that says why you truly value this person, and you’ll be a rockstar in my books!
  6. Invest in your team for next year. For many companies, the magnitude of the budget line item for an office Christmas party or gifts is significant.  What if you invested that money back into your employees next year instead? Could that fund a benefits package, a monthly team lunch, employee development, a weekly yoga class, or new office furniture with a focus on ergonomics? Could you reduce your holiday spending and do more for your team throughout the next year? Start a group conversation about this and see how your people would like to see the money spent. They may still want a party – but at least you’ve given them a voice.
  7. Don’t forget that praise, recognition, and rewards should come all year long. While it’s easy to make rewards and thanks a priority at this time of year, ideally it should flow year-round.  Find genuine and regular ways to implement rewards and recognition programs throughout the year. And if you don’t know where to start, get in touch!


No matter what you decide to do, if you want to rock employee rewards, what’s important is to think about the individuals that work with you, and to acknowledge what would they like, what you value about them, and how you can you express this to them in a meaningful way.

*(Source: Reward Gateway and

Crystal Roche

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