It's the end of the year, and employees have plenty on their wish list: Some want relaxed work hours, others want gifts, and several are pining for a rocking office party. So what does it take to be a good boss during the holidays?

Inc. asked a handful of companies from our  2017 Best Workplaces list to see how they celebrate the holidays with colleagues. Here are some of the best responses from 12 companies across industries like advertising, energy, health, and IT services.

1. Fewer working hours and more time with family.

Most of the survey participants said they recognized the importance of family, and gave employees time off to spend with their loved ones. 

Button, a New York City-based partnership platform for mobile commerce, said it gives employees a $1,000 vacation allowance for families ($500 for individuals), and encourages them to use those funds during the holidays. "One of our core principles states that family is P0, being the number one priority of our employee's lives," Button told Inc.

2. Pop the cork with colleagues.

Several companies said they've hosted celebratory dinners or parties during the winter holidays to thank their staffers.

"No matter how large we've grown, we still bring every one of our remote employees in for a Christmas party," said Rich Smith, vice president at the Omaha-based Atlas MedStaff, which recruits and places traveling nurses.

Denver-based Diablo Media, which operates an affiliate network for cost-per-action marketing, said it takes employees on an all-day outing that involves catered food, an open bar, and transportation home for those who plan to drink. The following day is a company ski trip, or a day off for those who don't take to the slopes.

3. Treat yourself by fulfilling a personal goal.

Acceleration Partners has a more personalized approach to employee gifting. Based in Needham, Massachusetts, the digital-marketing services company is helping each of its team members achieve a personal goal. One employee, for instance, said she wanted to guest lecture at a university. Founder Robert Glazer ended up arranging the opportunity at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Another wanted to learn how to play guitar and was given lessons.

"In turn, we'll be working very closely to advance these requests for employees as a way to motivate them going into next year, and help provide some balance for their own goals and life ambitions," said Glazer.

4. Employee swag that employees will actually use.

Button works with an internal team to brainstorm and create a gift that is unique to the business. Last year, staffers got noise-cancelling headphones. 5, an energy products and services company based in Irving, Texas, offers similar company-branded gifts like wine, hoodies, and golf shirts.

"Giving and receiving gifts is the best thing ever," said Mobile Solutions, a SaaSS company based in Centennial, Colorado. "To be recognized for hard work by a company that treats its employees like family is just one more way we are able to invest in one another."

5. Office decor to get everyone in a festive mood.

Study.com, an online education company based in Mountain View, California, encourages staffers to decorate a fresh, ceiling-high Christmas tree in the office. The company said there is "always a buzz around the office" on the day of the festivities.

Buzz Franchise Brands, a Virginia Beach-based company that builds franchise brands, created a Sanity Control Committee that recruits employees to help with decorating. 

6. Philanthropy to donate the gift of giving.

Buzz Franchise Brands, 5, and Azzur Labs, a private equity enterprise that works with companies in the health industry, all give employees opportunities to support local charities and fundraisers during the holidays. Treeline, a recruiting company based in Wakefield, Massachusetts, also works with a local charity that donates living essentials to families.

Published on: Nov 29, 2017