Keeping employee morale high during the holiday season can be quite a challenge for any company, as a year's worth of stress and hard work make for an exhausted workforce. To help maintain morale and acknowledge and reward employees' efforts, many business owners offer their team members various benefits or gifts, often in the form of financial bonuses or time off.
These seven entrepreneurs share useful suggestions for holiday gifts that will make your employees feel appreciated for their dedication and commitment to helping your business grow.
Many businesses prefer to focus on offering their employees a meaningful memory instead of material benefits, according to Fortress Consulting Group President Joel Mathew.
"We've found that pushing for experience-based incentives is what gets talked about long term. For example, we will send our design team to a museum or exhibition for a day, or we will send our sales people to a baseball game or golfing," he explains. "Getting teams out of the office opens up their creativity and rewards them for doing great work in the office."
Donations in Their Honor
"People don't want more stuff, especially around the holidays. I challenge business owners to give their teams and clients donations instead of gifts," shares Andrew Thomas, co-founder of SkyBell. Thomas believes that this helps any business stand out as one that wants to make an impact and give to others.
"To me, it signals that you value money and refuse to waste it on another fruit basket or useless gift that will just end up in the ocean," he says.
Additional Time Off
Business owners can never go wrong with offering more time off for employees to spend with their loved ones. "While bonuses and individual gifts may be appreciated, I've found that the one gift that every team member appreciates is additional paid time off," says FE International Founder Thomas Smale.
"Ours is a truly multinational team, and granting additional PTO to allow employees to spend more time with their families -- or simply take care of their holiday shopping or other personal tasks -- never fails to elicit a positive response," Smale explains.
Sometimes it is the more unusual gifts that are appreciated and warmly remembered for years to come. "One year I worked for a company that gave out potted herbs to their employees: basil, sage, oregano, geranium," remembers Nicole Munoz, founder of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.
"It was something that was quite unique and all the staff really appreciated it," she says. "I think what people enjoyed most about the gift was that it was highly practical and thoughtful."
Going the more traditional route of purchasing gifts for your employees should not be discarded. What matters is being able to buy a personalized gift that you know the recipient will appreciate, according to John Rampton, founder of Calendar.
"Whether it is on Amazon or another service that allows people to create a wish list, I like to buy directly from there. It personalizes the gift and I know everyone is getting exactly what they want," he shares.
A Big Event
Other companies are keen on the tradition of staging a party or big event for the holidays. This allows employees to bond and unwind, according to Bell + Ivy Co-Founder Zach Binder.
"My partner and I throw our team a big event every holiday season. It gives us all a night to let loose, have fun and embrace the holidays," he says. "I feel like we are at an age when none of us really need anything, so I would rather share an experience with everyone."
Company-Funded Secret Santa
"Receiving gifts is fun, and giving gifts is really fun," says Passport Co-Founder and COO Aaron Schwartz. "We've found that doing a Secret Santa creates deeper bonds within our team, as it forces each person to think hard about another teammate."
Companies can organize Secret Santa however they see fit, which can make holiday gift giving even more exciting. "We added a twist in the past year by making it company funded," reveals Schwartz. "Every employee gets $100 to spend, yielding gifts like massages, Netflix subscriptions and books. Doing this as a group is truly a joy."