The Top Six Ways to Show Employee Appreciation Besides Bonuses During the Holidays

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‘Tis the season to celebrate your employees and show appreciation for their hard work and commitment. Not every organization has the means to offer bonuses to their entire staff, nor do some companies wish to reward their employees solely on a monetary basis. Plus, year-end employee gifts or forms of recognition usually come from a supervisor’s own pocket and not the company. For those employers looking to do a little extra for their team, we made a list of ways to show your staff that you’re thankful for them during the holiday season.

1. Write a Handwritten Note or Send a Thoughtful Gift

Often, the majority of communication happening in your office occurs through email or instant message. Show your employees that you care by sharing words of praise, thanks, or encouragement with pen and paper. Amp up your letter by highlighting specific qualities and skills your staff exemplify to make your note more personal and descriptive.

Employers can also purchase thoughtful gifts for staff as a way to express gratitude for the team’s efforts and commitment to the organization. A thoughtful gift should be something that shows you pay attention to your employee’s likes and interests (give a mug to the employee who loves coffee!). Your workers will appreciate that you thought of them and took the time to pick out something special, no matter the size or monetary value.

Note: as a manager buying gifts for subordinates, it’s important to get a gift for everyone on your team, not just a specific few.

2. Offer Free Time or Extra Paid Time Off

Your team is dedicated and puts in the hours they need to help your organization succeed. Reward them by letting them leave early the day before an office-wide holiday break or by encouraging them to take a long lunch break on a slow afternoon. As an employer, you can also provide additional paid time off to a team of hardworking individuals so they can start their holiday break early or come back to the office a few days later than planned.

3. Take Them Out to Dinner

If you have a small team, you may consider taking your employees out for nice one-on-one sit-down dinners. This gives you and your employees time to discuss professional development and goals, while leaving time for you to chat about topics unrelated to work. Often, employers and employees don’t get as much face time as they should, so this opportunity provides a chance for you and your workers to collectively reflect on their career paths and more.

4. Reward Them with a Gift Card

Much like a thoughtful gift (as stated in point one), using your own funds to buy a gift card to your employee’s favorite restaurant lets them know that you pay attention and care enough to show it. Similarly, you can give your employees tickets to a sporting event to see their favorite team in action. Experiences make excellent gifts for valued staff.

5. Host a Holiday Luncheon

Infuse your office with the holiday spirit by hosting a staff luncheon. Serve turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pie during the holiday season to celebrate with your entire staff. This is a great way to bring your team together and have fun alongside colleagues, plus everyone appreciates a delicious meal. This is often a more cost-effective way to show your team you care, versus taking everyone out to separate meals.

6. Offer a Free or Inexpensive Holiday Party

Managers on a budget can host an in-office ugly sweater party and encourage their employees to come dressed in a silly sweater. This is a completely free way to have some fun with your staff and break free of the day-to-day norm. You can offer the winner with the best sweater your prime parking spot for the day, too!

Similarly, employers can host a cookie exchange, potluck, or white elephant gift exchange—these are often inexpensive for both supervisors and employees but do require your staff to contribute.

What’s your favorite way to reward your employees during the holidays? For more information on employee appreciation, visit our Human Resources page at

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.


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