Let’s be honest. This year has been tough. With most of us still working from home or unable to visit family for the holidays, reaching out and intentionally forming connections is important. The end of the year or the holiday season is a good excuse to plan something special.
It may not sound like much, but celebrating your team can have a big impact. “Employees feel appreciated when they’re recognized for their hard work and achievements. Recognition plays a large part in employee satisfaction and employers who celebrate wins can improve morale, strengthen teamwork, and make work a much happier place,” reports Indeed.
While most of us can’t have the holiday parties or dinners we’ve had in the past, we can still enjoy each other’s company remotely. Here are 4 tips for celebrating remotely:
The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and with the pandemic, planning ahead is even more important. Be sure to take the time to research different activities, send out a survey or Google Form to see what your coworkers are interested in doing, and set expectations for how the event will go. Take the time to plan little details as well, like a “pre-party waiting room” that has holiday music playing to get people in the festive spirit.
Example – if you plan on doing a virtual cocktail hour, set expectations on event timing, if people can come and go, who else can join, if video connection is required, what people need to bring, and how the cost will be covered.
Bonus: add a theme like crazy hat, ugly Christmas sweater, or dress like your boss – see Wursta’s sales team’s Halloween costume for inspiration.
Show your appreciation
The end of the year usually comes with salary bonuses, lavish dinners, or other gifts that may not be financially feasible this year for some companies.
If it is possible for you to send your employees gifts, anything that provides them with an experience or is something they really love and could use is always my first choice. This shows your employees that you value THEM and are not just checking the “I gave a gift box” with an Amazon gift card. Check out this list of items from TODAY for inspiration. A personal favorite of mine is the YETI Tumbler or noise-canceling headphones for all the virtual meetings we now have.
If financial strains don’t allow you to give as you have in the past, use words of affirmation to show your appreciation for your team. Be mindful that expressing gratitude doesn’t have to look the same for every member of your team. If your team members appreciate public praise, announce their accomplishments on the company chat or in an internal newsletter. If they are more introverted, then a handwritten card could be the way to go.
Also, it doesn’t all have to come from the boss. Invite other members of your team to sing each other’s praises.
Keep it light
Like I mentioned earlier, this year has been tough. We could all use some positive, light-hearted energy. Some of your coworkers might not be able to see their family in person, so coordinating a time to see family and coworkers may not be easy. Finding an activity that people can casually pop in and out of is a way to alleviate that pressure. Also, invite the whole family to join in on the call. Play with virtual backgrounds to add in a little extra fun and organize games that are easy to play remotely, like Werewolf, BINGO, and trivia.
Also, virtual meeting fatigue is real. Get a good pulse on your team’s excitement for hosting a virtual party or if sending photos and notes of appreciation between the team would be more rewarding.
Don’t put pressure on meeting before the end of the year
The ideal time to plan a holiday party is between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with December 9-12 being popular dates for 2020. Most holiday parties fall on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
With 2020 celebrations being virtual, offer creative timing and a variety of options when you’re in the planning stage. Would a festive Sunday afternoon of cookie decorating and cider excite your team more than a gathering of late-night cocktails?
Finally, don’t hesitate to push the event to January. Instead of an EOY celebration, why not get your team excited for a new year with a 2021 kick off in early Q1? After all the holidays are about allowing yourself to take the time you need to rest and recuperate.