Don't count on a fruit basket or ham being the ultimate expression of gratitude.
The best holiday gift you can give employees is sometimes less tangible, according to the CEO of Metrus Group, a Branchburg, New Jersey, company focused on consulting, research and skills development.
William A. Schiemann said recent research by the company indicates employees are looking for more fulfillment, including at work, where they spend 50 percent of more of their non-sleep time.
"Their job and employer influence their fulfillment a great deal," Schiemann said in a statement.
"We also know from our research that fulfillment leads to more productive employees," he wrote. "Highly fulfilled employees we interviewed talked about being more engaged at work, eager to take on new challenges, and often volunteer for special projects both at work and in their communities."
With Christmas coming, Schiemann released six suggestions to "gift your employees" that will increase fulfillment:
1. Recognize people. It's one of the most powerful forms of motivation. "Even in tough years when the company is struggling, your people are doing their best to make the company successful," he said. Thanks should come from immediate managers and senior management. An all-employee video or personalized letter to employees, a bonus, or small gifts can accomplish this.” But gifts without a recognition ‘thank-you,’ Schiemann said, will not increase fulfillment.
2. Celebrate. While recognition is important, celebration brings about team or department goodwill and camaraderie, leading to closer working relationships. Even in down years, there is so much to celebrate, such as overcoming obstacles and acquiring new customers. Managers could even think of something quirky, such as going to a winery, bowling, snowmobiling, boating; something special and different from the norm.
3. Remember employees’ families. Your hard-working employees are often bolstered by great families -- people or groups that enable your people to manage their work and non-work lives. At Metrus, spouses or significant others are included in the holiday party. Managers could also plan an event -- a carnival, movie night or concert, for example -- that would include family and friends of employees.
4. Remind people about your company's mission and vision. All employees want to work for an organization that has a purpose. When employees have options, they want to be affiliated with a company, non-profit or agency that is making a difference. A compelling mission and vision are key requirements to the alignment mentioned above, which drives fulfillment.
5. Tell employees how they will grow in the future. The end of the year is often a time when employees take stock of how they have grown during the last year. If they have been denied access to training, not been stretched in some new way or don’t see development in the future, some will be searching for a new role and others will simply be less motivated. Have the kind of discussions that give employees something to look forward to.
6. Give back. The most fulfilled people in the Metrus research talked about giving back and valuing employers who give back to the community in one form or another.