As we continue in the “nothing is normal” year of 2020, employers are challenged with reinventing their holiday season celebrations for remote employees. Here’s a compilation of how some employers are handling seasonal festivities.

Show appreciation for your employees

A survey of employers by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. shows that more companies are rewarding their employees with bonuses this year than last year: “Last year, 34.9% of companies reported they never offer a year-end bonus, gift, or perk, similar to results since 2017. In 2016, 27% of employers responded they never offer a gift. This year, however, just 19% of employers reported they would not offer a bonus. Another 14% said they provide a bonus at other times during the year.”

Some employers are passing on a bonus but giving employees the gift of time. At SHRM, Kylie Ora Lobell  says that employers “recognize how hard employees have been working—both remotely and in person—and want to make sure workers take additional time away from work demands to decompress.” She discusses how employers are using additional time off and other perks to show appreciation and support for employees.

One other way that some companies are reaching out to employees is by having managers schedule one-to-one holiday thank you and check-ins calls with each direct report. It’s more personal than a note or a card and offers the opportunity to connect and get a snapshot of each employee’s well-being.

The virtual holiday party

While bonuses may be in, holiday parties are out.  A survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. shows that the number of companies planning holiday parties has plummeted: “One year after nearly 76% of companies planned to hold holiday parties, just 23% of companies are planning a year-end celebration this year, and 74% of those will be virtual events.”

Some employers are reallocating the budget they’d have spent on in-person entertainment to gifts certificates for local grocery or retail stores, which has the benefit of supporting the local community, too. If you do plan to hold a virtual holiday event,  have an agenda, and use some of the time to thank and recognize people for their efforts. Give out awards and offer prize drawings or contests, such the ugliest holiday sweater contest,  a karaoke contest, the most festive pet contest, etc. For contests, make sure that participation is voluntary.

Here are some other ways that employers are rethinking parties during the holiday season: .


Offer support to your employees over the holiday season

This has been a very tough year for everyone but it’s important to recognize that the holidays may be a particular stress point for your employees. Loneliness, missing families and friends, loss of traditional gatherings and rituals, and pandemic fatigue all combine to make this a time that is particularly difficult for many. In addition to the loss of normalcy, many families are also coping with illnesses or deaths related to Covid-19. Others are struggling with financial worries and job losses in the family.

It’s important to remind your employees and their families of any EAP support benefits available to them and their families. Remind them that counseling, coaching, grief support, stress management, self-help resources, and more are available via a self help-line or online support.

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