Holiday comms ideas for ending 2021 on a high
Intranet software has proven critical for keeping organizations connected and engaged through the challenges of the last two years. What better way to utilize your intranet to end the year on a high with these creative holiday comms ideas perfect for hybrid, fully remote, and full-time office-based workers?
The holiday season is an exciting time in any business, with the milestone of another year-end approaching, colleagues taking a well-earned break, and, of course, a festive party with the company footing the bill. However, this can also be the season of declining productivity, with more likeliness of sickness, absenteeism, and people becoming mentally checked-out as they turn their minds towards what the holidays have in store.
This year, those issues could be more pronounced than usual. After a quiet holiday season last year due to pandemic-related restrictions, 2021 promised a return to normality, when in fact is has been anything but that. Not only have many had to adapt to hybrid working, they may be feeling exhausted from another rollercoaster of a year, and will be looking forward to the holidays being slightly more normal than last year. Internal communicators will be looking for ways to improve employee engagement and motivation to help end the year on a holiday high, while also getting everybody excited for 2022.
Fortunately, the holiday season provides plenty of opportunities to inject some festive fun into comms that will inspire and motivate colleagues to end the year on a positive note, and hit the ground running in the new year.
Here are twelve holiday comms ideas to help make this holiday season a happy, productive, and inspirational time for your people:
Holiday trivia with a twist
A festive pop quiz is a common way to celebrate the holiday season with your colleagues, so why not host one that places the spotlight on your workforce? The questions can cover anything company-related (within reason), such as significant events, customer wins, funny moments, snazziest dresser, best Zoom background, or even the person who spends most time not realizing they’re on mute.
Gathering intel from across the organization is a great way to make everybody feel included, and it gives people the opportunity to think back and reflect on all the great moments they had with their co-workers over the last 12 months. The quiz can take place in person, online, or both if you’ve switched to hybrid working. However you choose to host it, the quiz will provoke some friendly competition while instilling a sense of belonging and generating engagement.
Twelve months of accomplishment
Put your own spin on the Twelve Days of Christmas and celebrate twelve months of ‘us’ by identifying a dozen amazing things your organization achieved this year. Summarizing those achievements in a campaign broken down into 12 parts allows you to spread the celebrations and congratulations out over a few weeks to really bring out the positivity in everyone throughout the holiday season — especially those who spend all or most of their time working remotely and may be feeling a little disconnected from the business. This can be a far more exciting and engaging replacement for the traditional end-of-year corporate newsletter.
This is a great opportunity to call out the individuals, teams, and projects that helped your organization thrive through uncertain times. Not only does provide gratification for those who were involved in making those goals happen, it can also be inspiring for others, and demonstrates your organization’s behaviors and values in action.
Share an inspirational customer story
Most folks know the nativity story, but do your people know about your most impressive customer stories? When attention is hard to capture and hold, compelling storytelling is another effective way to drive engagement. A customer story can be particularly compelling for your people because it helps them to understand the impact that their contribution has made, and that’s something that doesn’t always filter through.
For those who are non-customer facing or working behind the scenes, this is hugely important. It also answers that all-important question: why am I doing this? What’s my purpose? Again, this is particularly important at a time when those working remotely or struggling to adjust to hybrid working may be feeling a little unclear on how they fit in with the organization and its goals. If you can get the customer to tell the story of how your organization has impacted them in their own words or capture it on video to share internally, even better.
Goodwill to all
The holiday season is a time for charitable goodwill and giving. Why not make the most of that mindset with a commitment and campaign around a festive cause? There are several different options out there, from food bank donations to ‘buy an extra gift’ drives to ensure every child has something to open on Christmas morning.
If staff donations aren’t the way you want to go, why not give the gift of time? Refuge and homeless shelters, soup kitchens, community projects, and more, are all in need of extra hands this time of year. Offering staff a free day or even a couple of hours to give to a good cause as part of your CSR strategy is an invaluable way to give back. Capturing and communicating the experience internally is a feel-good way to share the holiday vibe.
Sing the praises of the unsung heroes
Just like the way everybody has come together to recognize healthcare workers during the pandemic, now is a perfect time to shine a light on the unsung heroes in your workforce and shout about those who make your organization the success it is.
Reach out to line managers to nominate those staff members who go the extra mile, live your company values, or do the behind-the-scenes work no one normally hears about. Share their stories on your intranet software or internal comms channels; get leadership or even your employees to vote for their MVPs. It gives those individuals valuable recognition and their peers an opportunity to say, ‘thank you’.
Your colleagues will often be undertaking their own festivities at home — whether that’s by decorating their desks, coming up with the best festive Zoom backgrounds, or holding virtual departmental drinks. Why not ride on the comms they’re already putting out on social media by getting them to add a dedicated festive hashtag?
Adding an incentive — such as a prize for the best #tagged holiday photo — will drive up engagement and adoption. Follow their efforts and retweet, repost, or share on your company social channels, or pop the best up on your intranet to share company-wide. It’s a quick and easy win to use ready-made content, engage your employees, and unite your organization.
Break out the Christmas sweaters
’Tis the season of questionable knitwear, and if your organization can commit to a dedicated Christmas sweater day, why not tie it in with an important message? It could be to raise funds for your chosen charity or perhaps raise awareness about a cause your organization cares about.
A physical or virtual selfie wall to showcase the weird and wonderful winners of the day is a great way to get everyone involved while ensuring your message is seen and heard.
New year, new focus
The end of the year is always a time for looking forward, planning, setting new goals or objectives, lining up budgets for the year ahead. The danger is that staff may be doing the same: As the spike in turnover in January shows us, those goals don’t always include your organization.
Help deter the ‘new year, new me’ mass exodus by giving everyone something to look forward to and work towards in the new year. For an inclusive and fun spin, have senior leaders communicate the organizational ‘resolutions’ or goals for the year ahead. Then, ask your staff to chip in with one resolution apiece that can contribute to achieving those big goals. If you publish the organizational goals on your intranet software and just ask everyone to comment, it makes for a low-pressure yet inclusive approach — while also focusing staff on the coming year.
Give the gift of gratitude
For many organizations, the end of the year means bonus time: the big payout as part of structured incentive programs or packages. However, and at a time where the economy looks perilous, this may be difficult to fulfil. 82% of employees think it’s better to give someone praise than a gift. Take this opportunity to give your staff the gift of gratitude with personal tokens of thanks and recognition.
Ask line managers to write a single sentence about each team member on a Christmas card; or, if you have the resource, consider an interactive version with a clickable present in an email. If you do physical gifts for staff as standard, couple them with a personal note — it will prove far more effective at boosting morale and engagement.
Gather and share highlights from 2021
You’ll want everybody to end the year in a positive mindset. Given that we trust the word of our peers more than that of the organization, tapping into your employees for positive feedback is a sure win for this one. While this year had some definite lows, it may be worth sharing some memories of your culture’s positive moments and why the organization is a great one to work for.
Whether it was a team working closely together from their individual homes, the running commentaries on 2021’s most popular Netflix shows, a reawakened love of baking — ask your staff to share their favorite moment or highlight of the year. Keep it light-hearted and fun, encouraging staff to share the funny and informal alongside the business-related bits.
Boost engagement with a festive competition
When attention and productivity are in danger waning, why not increase the fun factor through your intranet software with a festive competition? There are so many weird and wonderful options, from cupcake decorating competitions, to guessing the missing word from the Christmas lyrics, or even TikTok style dance routines. And if you have some necessary evils to communicate over the festive period (who to contact for IT support when the entire support desk is on leave, for instance) this may be a way to get the message out with a more light-hearted approach.
You could even consider a virtual treasure hunt, ‘hiding’ the answers within your intranet for staff to find with the help of some crafty questions. Or perhaps an advent calendar of clues (or answers) to incentivize everyone to seek out the information in return for a prize.
If all else fails… let it snow (with treats)
If competitions (no matter how friendly) aren’t really in line with your culture, or your staff shy away from the idea of a festive knit, then that’s entirely understandable. You can’t go wrong with holiday treats to motivate your people. Get attendance up for the end-of-year town hall wrap-up, or encourage employees to attend the (otherwise dry) departmental debrief by sending some festive goodies to your tired workers.
If there are important messages to share, or you simply want to ensure everyone receives well-wishes from the leadership team before they sign off for the holidays, seasonal treats can be a great motivator for getting everybody to tune in.