8 Meaningful Holiday Gifts to Improve Employee Morale and Engagement

Be a Giving Organization, Show Appreciation, and Make a Difference

The holidays are here, and everybody’s mind is on the rising cost of living. The ones feeling the squeeze the most are likely your frontline workers, as inflation disproportionately affects lower-income earners and families.

Consider these issues your employees are facing: rent is higher, gas prices are higher, and food is more expensive. Lower-income earners are spending a higher proportion of their paychecks on these essentials. Likewise fixed-wage workers are feeling the crunch. If inflation is 7%, these workers’ wages purchase 7% less than they did when they signed their contracts.

Frontline workers are your essential workers. They are the ones who have direct contact with your customer. They are the face of every business. And they need more support now than ever.

At a time when everybody’s talking about the economy and the rising cost of living, be mindful about the challenges of all workers. Here are 8 gifts you can give your employees this holiday season, and year ‘round, to help ease the burden of inflation and increase engagement.

1. Give financial security. This is critical for any employee to be engaged with work. Identify key financial stressors of employees (housing, food insecurity, childcare, health), and tailor a financial wellness strategy around your employees’ needs. Take care of your employees. Pay them a living wage.
2. Give health. Provide your employees with meaningful health benefits – both mental and physical. This means access to annual pap smears, birth control, and mammograms for women. Make corporate wellness an organization priority.
3. Give flexibility. Gas prices are through the roof right now. With the holidays, traffic is a real problem. Consider staggering entry times to allow employees to avoid congestion. When possible, provide workers with the opportunity to work from home (and avoid using the car all together).
4. Give family. The holidays are a time for school plays, family visits, and lots of activity. They’re also a time when kids are out of school and parents are working. Partner with a local YMCA, Boys & Girls’ Club, library, or other program to provide low-cost childcare during the holidays.
5. Give growth and opportunity. We don’t advise you to begin a rigorous training program in December, but you can be strategic about developing talent and skills in your employees for the new year. Meet with employees and ask about their personal and professional goals for the upcoming year. Come up with a calendar of MOOCs, training sessions, and workshops. When employees have something to look forward to and can improve their skills, this makes them more marketable and valuable.
6. Give community. Building meaningful workplace connections is a key piece of employee engagement. Be mindful about creating spaces where employees connect and share. This differs depending on the organization and even within different departments. Set up the staff room with board games, puzzles, scrapbooking materials. Form a book or movie club.
7. Give employees a voice. Conduct a yearly employee engagement survey to understand your organization’s unique needs and challenges. Make action plans based on survey results, communicate them, check in, and improve.
8. Give UP the gift exchange. This is something we’ve discussed many times, yet it bears repeating. Stop having people buy random gifts for people they don’t know in an effort to connect. Every dollar counts right now. Don’t burden employees with another thing to buy or do this holiday season.

Things are rough right now for millions of families. Be the organization that eases the burden and gives the holiday gifts that make a difference: financial health, wellness, time, connection, and opportunity.

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