12 Ways to Engage Your Employees This Holiday Season

Towards the end of the year, it can be tricky to keep employees engaged. With most of us excited for our upcoming holidays and the thought of a New Year, we’re giddy! Add that to the warmth of hot cocoa in our bellies and the brilliant twinkle of fairy lights, it’s really no wonder we’re a little detached from our typical work mode.

With a little effort and holiday spirit, however, it’s actually not so hard to keep employees engaged if you’re a manager.

To give you more insight, we’ve compiled a list of 12 fun and easy ways to engage your employees this holiday season.

1. Join Christmas Jumper Day! 

Each year, Save the Children puts on Christmas Jumper Day in December, a UK-wide festive celebration for charity that aims to fill the bellies of kids all over the United Kingdom.

The idea is simple: donate £2 to Save the Children and wear your most fun and festive holiday jumper at your home or work office.

If you want to spice things up and get more people involved, you can even hold a playful competition for best or worst dressed, or simply make the day more of an Ugly Holiday Jumper Day for a laugh instead.

All in all, it’s a great way to get people involved for a good cause and a good time!

2. Holiday Decorating 

You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you decorate for the holidays, whether it’s putting up a tree, a wreath, or a few twinkling lights?

Why not bring that feeling to the office and engage your employees by encouraging them to decorate their desks or surrounding office areas to spread a little holiday joy?

Even if it’s just a few funny-looking paper snowflakes or a poorly constructed snowman, you’re sure to see a smile on everyone’s face.

3. Holiday Party 

An end-of-year holiday party is a fantastic way to keep up employee morale and keep people engaged - and it doesn’t have to be expensive either!

Make it as simple as an afternoon with finger foods (can anyone say potluck?!) and soft drinks in the office and maybe pop on some festive tunes, and you’ve got yourself and your team a great time with good company.

If your organisation can afford something a little more swanky, however, it’s worth investing in if your employees are comfortable getting together in a larger group at a restaurant or other similar venue.

We all deserve a little fun after a difficult many months.

4. End of Year Award Ceremony 

We all love a little appreciation and recognition, right?

That’s why it’s a really good idea - either at your holiday party or, say, during a festive-themed lunch - to organise a silly end-of-year awards ceremony that’s sure to prove to be an entertaining event!

You can even get your entire team involved by creating a survey for who should be given which honour. Websites like SurveyMonkey, for instance, are free and simple to use.

If you’re stuck on what light-hearted awards to give out, a few examples include:

  • The Always In a Meeting Award
  • The Super Snacker Award
  • The Best Dressed Award
  • The Coffee Connoisseur Award, or
  • The Always Almost Late Award

5. Secret Santa 

For those now back in the office full-time or enjoying a hybrid working model, this fun little game of anonymous gift-giving tends to be a fan favourite.

If you’re unfamiliar with how it works, each person on your team or in the office (you’re ideally looking for an even number here) is going to choose a name out of a hat or through an automated online generator to buy a small gift for.

Typically you’ll choose your name in early December and exchange your holiday gifts on a specified day in-office. Usually, the rule is that the gifts don’t exceed £10 to £20, generally making the gifts funny, practical, and sometimes sentimental.

6. A Fun Holiday Competition 

Most employees enjoy a little friendly competition, especially when it benefits everyone.

That being said, holding a baking competition is always a welcome opportunity to keep employees engaged and a far cry from hangry. The prize could be an extended lunch or even a small voucher for a coffee shop or bakery, such as Greggs or Costa. 

We say that’s a recipe for a sweet - or even savoury - experience.

7. Gift a Holiday Card 

This one is simple, straightforward, and really just a nice thing to do.

Handing out holiday cards to each of your employees may be old fashioned and even a little cheesy, however, showing your gratitude during the festive season helps end the year on a high note - especially since employees often feel overlooked in their roles when it comes to recognition from their mid to senior leaders.

It’s often the little things that make the biggest difference.

8. Allow Staff to Leave Early 

This one might be tough to clear with upper management and HR, however, if you can make it work, we recommend implementing this incentive to your team as an award for a job well done.

For instance, if your sales or marketing team has hit or exceeded a set goal or target, then giving them a half-day off of their choosing (within reason) is a great way to show your appreciation.

9. Splurge on a Holiday Voucher 

If your organisation has a holiday budget to burn and you want your team to feel particularly spoiled over the holidays, sending through a few generic online vouchers (think Amazon or Etsy) is always favourable.

This allows employees to treat themselves to a little something on the company’s tab, helping them to feel like a valued part of the organisation.

10. Holiday Quiz 

Over the course of the pandemic, online and virtual quizzes became more popular than ever, so during the festive season, it makes sense that a holiday quiz is a great way to keep the employee experience positive.

It’s also an ideal option for both in-office and remote workers since everyone having access to their PCs and laptops grants each employee the opportunity to take part in the experience.

11. Promote Wellness 

Mental health is a major priority for HR teams and senior management alike and during the festive season, it's even more important for management to promote employee wellness, ensuring that the necessary health and wellbeing resources are known and available, both inside and out of the office. 

For many, this time of year can be difficult, lonely or stressful and it's vital we take this into consideration, showing kindness and support where we can. For anyone struggling in or out of the workplace this Christmas, helpful contacts include: 

Relate: provides support with relationships and Christmas

Samaritans: 116 123 (freephone)

Shout: Text SHOUT ON 85258

Stand Alone: for those who are estranged from their family during the festive season

12. A Positive Review Before 2024 

Perhaps one of the best ways to engage your employees this holiday season is by hosting an end of the year meeting that focuses strictly on the positive moments and business results from 2023.

By veering away on anything too heavy (i.e. redundancies, turnover, etc.), this meeting will act as a sort of pep talk, one that will get employees ready and motivated for the New Year, knowing that their organisation is looking forward to a fresh start as much as they are.

It wouldn’t hurt to have a few sweets on standby either!

Remember that engaging employees all year round is important, but it can be especially tricky during the winter months.

So, put your best foot forward and remain flexible and adaptable for your employees this season - believe us, they’ll thank you for it!

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