Your Team’s Secret Holiday Wish List

Culture

December 14, 2022

Margaux Morgante

X min

5 min

Company swag and forced fun is out. Time to disconnect and regular recognition is in.

Woman receives a gift she loves for the holidays.
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Table of Contents

Currently, half of today's employees and managers are burned out at work, according to Microsoft's 2022 Work Trend Index. Between the ongoing pandemic, looming recession, and the usual stress this time of year brings, chances are your team is exhausted, overwhelmed, and in dire need of some downtime. Why is it, then, that along with weekends and weeknights full of holiday parties, shopping, and travelling, life at work feels busier and more demanding than it has all year?  

As HR teams, social committees, and culture clubs congregate to make some last-minute holiday plans, why not try something new this year? Rather than sticking to the old approach, here's an inside look at what your team really wants, and how to make it happen:

1) Instead of a virtual happy hour, offer time to disconnect

The urge to organize a virtual happy hour may be strong, and for some people, they are still a holiday dream come true! But with 80% of U.S. remote workers reporting some level of 'Zoom fatigue,' chances are, zooming in to party might bring out a few inner Grinches. Instead, give your team a clear choice by including one simple (compound) word: non-mandatory. Make it clear that your team can choose to attend or take the time to log off and recharge.

2) Swap out company swag for flexible gift cards

Sure, everyone loves a free t-shirt/hoodie/coffee mug, but is that really the best you can do? Between inflation and layoffs in the news, people are worried about personal finances – S&P Global reports that consumer holiday spending is expected to pull back compared to last season, for example. With that in mind, rather than delighting your team with (non-re-giftable) company swag, why not give them the gift of choice with a flexible gift card? Relieving the burden of holiday spending is a great way to show your team you have their back.

3) Ask yourself – can this wait until 2023?

Sometimes, what you don't give has the most impact. While the idea of starting 2023 off ready to go, with planning, budgeting, and reports complete, consider if it's worth your team's sanity and peace of mind. On top of that, with stress at an all-time high this time of year, the quality of the work will undoubtedly suffer. Pushing some deadlines to a week into January and giving your team a chance to breathe this December will put a smile on your team's face that a holiday ham could simply never.  

4) Pair your performance reviews with much-needed recognition

"I love performance review season," said no one ever. For some people, performance reviews bring anxiety, insecurity and significant discomfort. Unfortunately, this year risks being even more stressful, with many organizations freezing salaries and stalling promotions. Ensuring your team knows their work is appreciated is more critical now than ever. Announcing a 2023 implementation of a recognition platform, like Kudos, is a relatively inexpensive way of showing your team that you value their contributions. The bonus – a recognition platform is the gift that keeps on giving since your employees will continue to receive meaningful recognition all year and, if you choose to use points, a catalog of world-class rewards.

5) Give your team the right to disconnect

Finally, all this talk and effort leading up to the holidays is pointless if there is no actual time to celebrate and recharge. Time off can mean something different to everyone, including your managers. Some expect their teams to be accessible despite being "off." Have your leaders sign off on a "right to disconnect over the holidays" policy with guidelines on what is expected in terms of checking in with work and contingency plans. This will give your team the freedom to delete their work tech apps off their phones (no offence, Slack & Teams) and eliminate the need to check their email obsessively. Add some fun by suggesting some of these funny out of office messages. Your team will be delighted and will come back refreshed and ready to tackle 2023's challenges.


Changing how you've always celebrated the holidays can feel risky or uncomfortable, but the payoff is significant. When you see the joy in your team's eyes from getting what they really want, your own heart might just grow three sizes!

"And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!" –Dr. Seuss


About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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