Thanksgiving is almost here. There is, of course, no better time to thank all those people who help you run your business—from your employees or independent contractors to your strategic partners, vendors and clients, to the friends and family members who give you moral support. How can you thank them this holiday season?
Time is of the essence around the holidays. As we head into the busy season for people’s personal lives, give the gift of time.
- Offer employees flexible schedules so they can attend school events, spend time with family or just get some shopping done.
- Reward employees with paid time off such as one comp day during the holidays to be used whenever they choose.
- Give everyone an afternoon off to get their shopping done. One company I know hosts an annual holiday brunch, then lets employees take off right after.
Money matters. Everyone’s got bills and presents to buy, so think of ways to help your employees out financially.
- Cash gifts are more appreciated than just about anything else. If you’re on a budget, save the $25 you might spend buying each employee’s gift and give them cash instead.
- Gift cards are the next best thing to cash—just make sure they’re for fairly generic businesses that you know everyone patronizes. Otherwise, employees end up with things they can’t use. Consider bartering for gift cards with local small businesses.
Eat it up. Who doesn’t like food? Ease the holiday stress and show your gratitude by bringing in food at the holidays, whether you institute a Friday pizza lunch or bring in breakfast.
Start fun traditions. Think outside the traditional holiday party with creative events that not only say thank you, but also encourage team bonding.
- Host a holiday bake-off where everyone competes to win prizes (and gets to taste and judge the entries).
- Do a lot of your employees have children? Host a kiddie party where parents bring their tots for the afternoon. Provide treats and a small gift for each child.
- Think company picnic, but with a winter theme. A snowman-building party, afternoon at an ice-skating rink or, if you live in a warm climate like I do, a beach bonfire where you build snowman sand-castles. All are fun alternatives to the traditional holiday party.
Business Partners and Clients
It goes without saying you’ll thank them with business gifts, but build more lasting bonds by holding events.
- Invite clients and strategic partners to your company holiday party. They’ll gain new appreciation by interacting with your team.
- Host a special thank you lunch or dinner for clients, customers and partners. If space allows, consider catering it at your home for an extra-personal touch.
- Plan for the new year. Your “holiday event” doesn’t have to be held during the holidays. Consider holding a post-holiday event—clients and partners will welcome having one less commitment on their plate during the busy holiday season.
- Get personal. Take your best clients or customers to a special, one-on-one lunch to express your gratitude for the relationship this year—and discuss new ideas for the new year.
Family and Friends
Your outside support system deserves a thank you, too.
- No matter how busy you are, block out time to spend with family. (Time spent answering emails on your smartphone doesn’t count.) Your undivided attention is the best gift you can give them this time of year.
- Write a letter to your biggest supporter—whether that’s your spouse, your best friend or your significant other—thanking him or her for all the love and support.
How will you thank everyone this year? Share with the community in the comments below.
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