By Nikki Carlson, co-founder/co-president of ChicExecs Retail and Strategy Firm. She has over 21 years experience in PR/marketing.
During normal times, the holidays are a season of joy and festivities at the office. But during the Covid-19 pandemic, odds are that the annual holiday party has been postponed until 2021. According to recent research compiled by Gallup, as much as 62% of the US workforce is working remotely. It’s now harder than usual to foster team spirit. How can you engage your employees from behind a screen during the upcoming holiday season?
It’s not easy, but creative managers can still engage their employees and spread a little holiday cheer — social distancing style. If you’re scratching your head over remote employee engagement, try these five tips to safely spread some cheer for the holidays.
Lead a virtual give-back initiative.
Social responsibility programs can increase employee engagement by 7.5% and reduce turnover by a whopping 50%. ’Tis the season to give back, after all. Engage your employees with a give-back project they can safely participate in from afar.
Invite employees to film a short video about a cause they passionately support. They can share the video on their personal social media as well as your corporate one. Once it goes live, make a $100 donation in their name to the employee’s charity of choice.
If you’re seeing low participation in your existing give-back initiatives, gift employees the power of choice. They get to participate in a cause they care about, and you get to make the world a better place. It’s a win-win.
Host a gift exchange over Zoom.
If you normally host a fun gift exchange during the holidays, who says coronavirus has to stop you? It’s completely possible to host a gift exchange party via Zoom. Remember, always make gift exchange parties optional. Your employees might not want to participate for various reasons, so don’t be a “mandatory fun” kind of manager.
Let employees sign up, and give them the name of a co-worker for the gift exchange. Set a dollar limit like usual, but this time there’s a twist. Set a deadline for employees to mail off their exchange gifts (you’ll need to cover postage and packaging).
When it’s time for the big day, have everyone come together on Zoom and open their gifts. You can add a little fun to the event by asking people to guess their Secret Santa before the big reveal.
Invite employees to an online class.
Teams bond when they share a common experience. You can’t ask employees to meet in person for the foreseeable future, but you can still create shared experiences remotely.
What can you do together over Zoom? Host a baking class or crafting workshop. You can mail employees all materials or ingredients to do something together. Either ask an employee to lead the class, or hire an outside facilitator for extra fun. Consider kid-friendly activities if your employees work from home with small children.
Remember, whatever class you want to do, schedule it during work hours. Your employees are already stressed to the max with the pandemic, home schooling and managing their lives. Give everyone a half day on Friday to take the class together.
Send holiday goodies to their front door.
The holiday season practically screams sugar. But when everyone works remotely, there are fewer opportunities to bond over fruitcake or candy canes.
It’s not the same, but you can still engage employees by mailing goodies straight to their door. If you’re an avid home baker, whip up a few batches of cookies for your employees. But if that’s not your cup of tea, there’s nothing wrong with delivering Godiva chocolates through the mail.
No matter where you land, try to make this a little personal. Include a hand-signed card or even treats for kids and pets. Personal touches will show employees you care about them during the holidays.
Provide employees with monetary bonuses.
We get it: Business was probably rough this year. Not every leader can afford generous holiday bonuses for their employees right now. If that’s you, don’t feel bad. Use the other four tips in this guide to engage employees during the holidays.
But if you can afford it, give your employees a holiday bonus. You have quite a few options for calculating these bonuses, including by individual performance, companywide performance, full-time or part-time status, or a flat bonus for everyone.
Just make sure your bonus system is fair. And don’t forget the typical end-of-year financial to-dos, like the cost of living increases and annual raises.
Acknowledge the bottom line.
The holidays look different this year. Instead of festive company parties and gift exchanges, your team is scattered to the winds, working remotely through 2021. Boosting employee engagement in this environment is no picnic, but you can still spread a little holiday cheer by committing to one or two creative ideas.
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