employees holidays digital rewards

How to Bring Employees Together for the Holidays – Even If They’re Far Apart

The holidays are a time for togetherness and wrapping up the year with joy, but doing so has gotten trickier in the business world. Employees working remotely – often in other states, if not countries – has become significantly more common of late. With the holiday season quickly approaching, many organizations are scratching their heads in regard to how to best bring their teams together despite the vast distances separating many of them.

Maintaining a sense of unity and company culture in remote and hybrid environments poses certain challenges. Even the most highly optimized and modern companies can only get so far with chats, emojis, and virtual meetings. Tricky as it may be, it’s more important now than ever for companies to put in the work to get it right, and year-end gifting presents a perfect opportunity to strengthen bonds and foster a sense of togetherness.

But how can companies best overcome physical distance to accomplish this? One option, of course, is to make a special occasion of it and pay for travel so employees can enjoy a holiday party together. It is a straightforward approach but also an expensive and logistically challenging one that may not necessarily be on the table for all companies.

Rather than work against the digital direction of the business, it’s often best to lean into it and focus on weaving the company’s culture through the virtual channels that employees occupy on a daily basis. For example, fun holiday-themed virtual events, online gift exchanges, or even holiday movie nights can all be done digitally and do wonders to add a festive touch that makes this time of year feel special for the team.

One of the safest bets for a strong year-end impact for the whole team, backed by research, is making use of digital rewards and e-gifting. Studies by the Incentive Federation have shown that gift cards are the most popular type of corporate gift, and it makes sense – they provide a simple, easy way of showing an employee that you care. Not to be underestimated, gift cards have been shown to be even more effective than cash bonuses at boosting morale, building loyalty, and even increasing productivity, up to a 46 percent boost over those who were offered cash bonuses.

This is partly because gift cards, as with other non-cash incentives, can be tailored directly to an employee – such as being relevant to a hobby of theirs or maybe even just treating them to one of their favorite restaurants – which in turn makes them feel seen and fosters a culture of appreciation.

These digital rewards are particularly effective at year-end, though they needn’t be constrained to the holiday season. Over the last year especially, many companies have been using this approach to show support and appreciation for their teams in a way that both acknowledges workplace challenges – such as a nice treat for a project well managed – and helps to alleviate the real-world economic pressures they’ve been faced with, such as sky-high inflation and soaring gas prices.

Implementing digital culture at an appropriate scale can take time, but there’s no time more important or appropriate than year-end to try it out. This holiday season, get experimental with digital culture and find a way to end the year with enough cheer to last your team well into next year. Your team will certainly appreciate the effort, and it may surprise you how much your business can benefit as a result.

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