What’s the best Christmas gift for your employees this year?

What’s the best Christmas gift for your employees this year?

It would be easy to write off a year when everything changed but nothing much seemed to happen. Yet this is a year that’s touched all of us one way or another. If nothing else, it’s a year that’s made us rethink our priorities, change our ways of living and working and be grateful for things we may ordinarily take for granted. No one has been immune. Everyone has done their bit.

So, how can you show gratitude to your employees as this turbulent year draws to a close?

The gift of listening

According to a recent McKinsey article, 75 percent of employees in the United States and close to a third in the Asia–Pacific region report symptoms of burnout. European nations are reporting increasing levels of pandemic fatigue in their populations. Many people have experienced sustained anxiety about jobs, health, family, friends and the future in 2020. It’s impossible to ignore but not always easy to talk about.

Things are looking up. But despite good news about the vaccine, mental and emotional energy reserves are in short supply. Disillusionment is a natural, cognitive reaction to this pandemic, which is leaving some feeling depleted as the year draws to a close. 

Now is a time for authentic listening. 

Listening makes people feel noticed, involved and understood. You may need to ask twice to open people up and move beyond the perfunctory “I’m fine”. And listening may start with personal disclosure. But leaders who authentically share how they feel first, create a psychologically safe platform for others to do the same – “it’s ok not to be ok”. 

The gift of stories

Authentic storytelling works alongside authentic listening to help people ‘accelerate to acceptance’.  

Storytelling provides reassurance, connection and hope. Through stories, we uncover the strengths in our team and reinforce the benefits of leading with compassion and empathy. Through stories we convey the attitudes, behaviours and choices that we want to carry forward into 2021. 

It’s important to be optimistic but it’s not about giving false hope that we are soon to return to normal. The gift many will appreciate this year are the strategies to think positively, stay resilient or seek help. Through team storytelling we learn more about the support people need and are able to offer realistic and practical tools to manage uncertainty as well as feeling like we’re in it together – that together “we’ve got this”. 

The gift of recognition

2020 for many has been a year when they have not been able to achieve the goals they optimistically set at the start of the new decade. Yet while personal ambitions, team targets or company KPIs have fallen off a cliff, we’ve seen ingenuity, resilience and compassion rise to the fore as businesses have reinvented themselves, leaders have chartered choppy waters and teams have adapted, helped and innovated.

Now is a good time to reflect on the individual part your team-mates have played in the collective effort to get through this year. And thank them. 

Even in more normal times, positive attention is 30 times more powerful than negative attention. And this year people really need recognition because they are more vulnerable than they have ever been. Yet, even though it may be obvious to you, it may not be clear to individuals quite what a difference their personal contribution and flexibility has made this year. So thoughtful, personalised words and a heartfelt ‘thank you’ will go a long way.

For most of us, our 2020 party season will be a bit more fizzle-out than fizz. There’ll be no mingling beneath the mistletoe or secret Santas to be sanitised. The bonus budget may be busted but that doesn’t mean we can’t spread a little joy to our teams and show how much we care. 

After any more recommendations? Hit the connect button and we will be happy to help! Read more from David here.