New ways to support, recognize and connect your employees this Christmas season

7 min read

The holiday season is approaching quickly, and this time it will be unlike any we’ve seen before. No matter which holiday your employees may be celebrating, the season is symbolic of a time of togetherness, which is made difficult by the physical distance most of us have from our colleagues, families and friends.

While companies would usually celebrate the holiday season with an office party, after-work activities, Christmas lunches and festive decorations around the office, the current work environment prevents most of this from happening. During this busy time, it can be easy for companies to get swept up in financial concerns and end-of-year sales targets, but it is more important than ever that companies pay extra attention to their employees’ needs and keep the festivities going this holiday season.

Employers have a window of opportunity now to show their appreciation and give their employees a little encouragement to help them get through this last stretch of the year, and a chance to boost morale and connections into the new year and beyond. Here are six ideas to support, recognize and connect your employees this holiday season:

 1. Focus on recognizing daily achievements
 2. Take recognition to the next level with monetary awards
 3. Connect your employees with virtual festive activities
 4. Support your employees by putting the spotlight on wellbeing
 5. Empower your people with employee discounts to make shopping easier
 6. Keep employees connected with activities and competitions

1. Focus on recognizing daily achievements

While recognition is always important, it is especially key during these challenging times. Showing your employees that you appreciate their hard work on a regular basis is necessary for keeping morale high and preventing employee burnout as we continue to navigate remote work. 

When employees are recognized by both managers and other employees, this strengthens connections across multiple levels of the company and shows employees that they are truly valued. 

When employees feel appreciated, they will continue to give you their best every day, and this creates a ripple effect across the organization. Encourage your managers and your employees to participate in recognition. For those who are overwhelmed with other tasks, the ability to schedule recognitions well in advance makes it easy to stay on top of recognition even when you’re busy.

If you’re having trouble getting your company on board with recognition, try having a Day of Thanks, where you encourage everyone in the company to send an eCard to someone who has helped them in some way. You can even customize your eCards so that employees will be inspired to send more. Check out some examples of holiday eCards below: 


2. Take recognition to the next level with monetary awards

You can take your recognition strategy even further by rewarding your employees with monetary awards. Digital awards are especially useful right now, as most of us are not in offices and cannot give in-person gifts to employees. With the option to bulk awards, you can save time by sending awards to all of your employees at once, and you can even customize these awards to match your brand or company values.

Learn more about our recognition solution specials to plan for 2021 »

Sending awards this holiday season will show your employees that you appreciate them, and the awards will be more meaningful as employees can redeem them quickly and easily for the gifts of their choice. 

In the past, Reward Gateway client Amtico had a very manual process, which consisted of giving employees physical gift cards. But the organization realized it needed to shift to digital reward and recognition and give its people more personalized redemption options. This led the organization to launch its employee engagement platform “MyAmtico” and switch to digital gifting. 

Modernizing its approach to reward and recognition led to 95% platform engagement on the all-in-one platform. 

And speaking of bulk awards and saving time on administration, Kettle Foods, another Reward Gateway client, uses its employee reward and recognition platform, “Kettle Kitchen,” to improve the reward experience. With a three-tiered approach, the organization is able to reward first-aiders and send out Christmas gift cards to their entire workforce before the holidays. By modernizing its approach to rewarding employees, the team at Kettle Foods can finally rest easy knowing that employees are no longer losing physical vouchers.


3. Connect your employees with virtual festive activities 

We might not be able to have holiday office parties this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still come together to celebrate – there are plenty of fun ways you can help connect your employees virtually and engage remote workers. While happy hours were great at the beginning of remote work, you can take things to the next level now by pairing your group calls with activities. Here are some fun, festive ideas for your next after-work video call:

  • Get creative and decorate gingerbread houses together – whether they turn out beautifully or fall apart, this is sure to bring some laughs.
  • Hold a virtual candle-making session – send your employees kits and they’ll enjoy this gift all season long.
  • Host a trivia game – make it festive with holiday movies trivia or celebrate the end of the year with things that happened in 2020 as your theme.
  • Make happy hour more interesting by making the drinks together – find a few recipes and have employees buy their ingredients or send the ingredients to them.


These are just a few ideas to make your calls more interesting, but there are many more options. Keep your employees engaged and interested in these calls by pairing them with activities, and you’ll help your employees better connect with each other and the company.

4. Support your employees by putting the spotlight on wellbeing 

The holidays can be a time of happiness and connectedness, but they can also be a stressful time for many people and it’s important that employees receive the support they need during this time. With all of these changes happening, both inside the workplace and in employees’ personal lives, we all need to be mindful of the effect these will have on many employees’ wellbeing, and the effect that in turn may have on their attitude towards work. 

It’s important to let your employees know that their wellbeing is top of mind for you. One way you can support your employees’ wellbeing is by giving them a Wellbeing Center, where they can find recipes to try during the holidays, workout videos to stay active even when it’s cold and mindfulness videos to promote mental wellbeing.

You can also support your employees by encouraging an open dialogue on wellbeing in your company – encourage employees to take time for themselves, to spend time with their families and friends and to focus on their wellbeing this holiday season. 

You can even give your employees an extra day of PTO to focus on themselves and their loved ones around the holidays.

When your employees are appreciated, they will be more motivated and focused in the work they do, so give them the time and space to work on their wellbeing.


5. Empower your people with employee discounts to make shopping easier

Another great way to support your employees this holiday season is through employee discounts. Even without a global pandemic, the holidays can be a time of stress – employees may be struggling to make ends meet and feel under pressure to buy presents they can’t afford. Employee discounts are a great way to relieve this financial stress, as you help your employees save money at hundreds of retailers.

In a recent survey, we found that 58% of employees would give up their holiday bonus in favor of more frequent rewards throughout the year, and that more than half of employees prefer ongoing recognition and savings to a holiday office party. 

Saving money on gifts, everyday purchases and entertainment is valuable to your employees year-round, so help your employees relieve their financial stress during the holidays and beyond by giving them employee discounts.


6. Keep employees connected with activities and competitions 

Here are some ideas to keep your employees connected and keep the fun going this festive season:

  • Have a holiday baking competition – employees can choose their own recipes or select from a list and send pictures of the finished products, and the winner receives a new apron, kitchen supplies or a basket of goodies.
  • Encourage employees to dig their ugly Christmas sweaters out of the closet and post them on a social feed to keep the festive fun going.
  • Don’t feel like dressing up yourself? Host a dress-up competition for employees’ pets, and the winner will receive new toys in the mail.
  • Help your employees get cozy this festive season by providing them with the book of their choice.
  • Give back to others by donating your holiday party budget to a local charity to make others’ celebrations better.


These are challenging times, but we still have an opportunity to connect and celebrate with each other this holiday season despite the physical distance. And even though this year’s celebration looks a little different, we can find better ways to use our resources and connect our people. 

Looking for more ways to support, recognize and connect your employees? Get in touch with us, and we’ll show you how we can help your company through the holiday season and beyond.

Talk to an Engagement Consultant »

Kaitlin Howes

Kaitlin Howes is an HR Business Partner at Reward Gateway. Kaitlin loves the dynamic nature of her job and that she gets to wear many hats, but is especially happy when creating a welcoming, fun and supportive experience for RGers. When she isn’t wearing her RG hat, you can find her repelling her sticky-fingered toddler from grabbing her laptop or chasing sunshine that provides the perfect setting for a picnic.

HR Business Partner

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