The holidays can be a great time for organizations to use their intranets to improve that all-important employee experience (EX). With a packed holiday season now stretching from October to January, however, it’s no surprise that engagement and employee experience suffer as people hit “festive fizzleout”.


For internal communications teams too, delivering multichannel messaging while also organizing timely, relevant campaigns can make it a tough period to increase employee engagement when their inboxes are already groaning like Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve.

From Halloween to New Year, the holidays should provide inspiration for communicators who want to create engaging content that will resonate with their colleagues. But for many workers on the receiving end of these glad tidings, the holidays can be difficult due to increased sickness, short deadlines, end of year targets, demanding customers, and a slew of distractions that cause a well-noted productivity slump.

Research suggests that up to 40% of employees report reduced productivity by mid-December.

Harvard Business Review

And it isn’t just making Thanksgiving dinner or shopping for Black Friday deals that’s keeping workers occupied. In one survey, the extra financial strain of the holidays has been reported as the chief reason that 88% of Americans now see the holiday season as the most stressful period of the year.

Keep internal comms fresh with 101 Employee Engagement Ideas

Increase employee engagement and improve your employee experience with creative internal communication ideas for every occasion.

Given the events of the past 18 months, the holiday season in 2021 will also present some unique problems. First, there’s the matter of communication saturation. In 2020, Ragan reported a 100% increase in email volume to employees, with an overwhelming 300% increase in the healthcare space. In the context of this hyper-communication, getting people to read content let alone respond can be a challenge. 

Additionally, 2021 will be the first year after the pandemic’s initial wave that the digital employee experience (DEX), remote, and hybrid working will combine with reopened public celebrations. How well communicators will be able to encourage positive employee engagement against this background of noise, stress, and physical barriers to interactions between colleagues is yet to be tested.

Plan internal comms campaigns: stay relevant and organized

Get your free holidays idea board for communicators.

For communicators too, the holiday season brings its own set of challenges. Just how many events can you plan? Which events are most relevant to your workforce? What are the best ways to mark them? What virtual employee engagement ideas can best suit your in-person and digital workplace tools? 

Well, we can’t solve all those challenges, but there are maybe two we can support you with. The first is our handy 2021 holiday planner for internal communicators. You can download it at the previous link, and it features some of the notable public holidays and popular marketing between October and New Year. To add to that though, we’ve also come up with some ideas on how you can use your intranet platform to celebrate any kind of holiday with employees.

1. Be inclusive and increase employee engagement

The holiday season can mean very different things to different people.

Thankfully, more and more workplaces are recognizing that the holiday season can mean very different things to different people. If we take the example of October 11, Columbus Day was mandated as a Federal Holiday for decades, but it now considered by many people to be problematic and in need of reassessing. To better mark Columbus’ impact on the indigenous peoples of the Americas, several US cities and states, including Alaska and Oregon, have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Keep internal comms fresh with 101 Employee Engagement Ideas

Increase employee engagement and improve your employee experience with creative internal communication ideas for every occasion.

Whether your organization chooses to mark either day, similar types of events don’t need to be simply forgotten but can be important for raising better awareness around diversity, equality, and inclusion issues. If you want to use your intranet for DE&I campaigns around holiday days, you can create content hubs containing interactive event calendars, blog posts from your own employees or external contributors, provide lists of educational resources, and create original content such as how-to guides on best cultural practices. Don’t forget that having a place where remote or hybrid workers can connect in shared Communities can also foster a better employee experience and increase employee engagement.

2. Think about the best intranet designs

Your intranet may support intranet design themes that will improve any digital workplace.

There’s no need to stick to plain text email messages when your employee experience platform can support adapted intranet design themes that will improve any digital workplace. Although the extent of your holiday decorations will vary, when your users access new color schemes, updated logos, and intranet design themes, it can give them an extra reason to get engaged with your messaging.

Ideas might include changing background images to align with holidays, refreshing top menu and text color schemes, making logos holiday-themed, and much more. 

Some companies go all out with holiday logo redesigns. Source: Smartz

3. Reduce stress with multichannel communications

Use multichannel communications channels to reach and engage every employee during the holidays.

As has been mentioned above, the holidays can be a stressful time. For retail companies and other organizations whose busiest period also overlaps with the final quarter of the year, new sales or product launches can result in a distinct lack of holiday spirit. 

Using the widest range of multichannel communication tools available to you as part of your employee experience platform or intranet will mean everyone stays updated and engaged. Take the stress out of Black Friday sales with centralized campaign launches that tell everyone what the key dates and actions are through notifications, mandatory reads, and other communications. They’re busy on the shop floor? No problem, use SMS messaging or Digital Signage to drive attention back to the content that will keep them best informed and least stressed. 

Keep internal comms fresh with 101 Employee Engagement Ideas

Increase employee engagement and improve your employee experience with creative internal communication ideas for every occasion.

You might have a phenomenal holiday season sale planned, but if your workforce are using out of date documents and communications then it can lead to inefficiency and poor delivery. Support them through continually updated cloud-based documents which they can access through an easy, fast search tool rather than endless data repositories.

4. Increase employee engagement by celebrating unsung heroes

Shine a light on your organization’s unsung heroes during the holidays.

Holidays are a perfect time to shout about those who make your organization the success it is: so, shed light on the unsung heroes who may otherwise be less visible. Appeal to line managers to nominate those staff members who go the extra mile, live your company values, and do the behind-the-scenes work no-one normally hears about. Share their stories on your intranet or internal comms channels; get leadership or even your employees to vote for their top heroes. It gives those individuals valuable recognition and their peers an opportunity to say thank you. 

Crucially, this doesn’t have to be about company performance. If one of your colleagues has done critical work in helping to raise employee wellness issues, why not celebrate their contribution as part of World Mental Health Day?

5. How far have you come?

What has your organization done to affect positive change this year?

The annual nature of holidays means that they represent perfect moments to look back on what you’ve accomplished in the last 12 months. Let’s say your company has intranet communities for Hindu, Sikh, or Jain employees and you marked Diwali last year. Diwali 2021 might be a good moment to assess what your organization has done in the intervening months to promote discussion of religious and cultural difference. 

Celebrate the present, look forward to the future

While the holiday season can pose challenges for internal communicators, it also offers the chance to give employees a positive experience at a time when they can be stressed and experiencing a productivity slump. 

One of the best ways to do this is by monitoring your holiday-themed output to see what worked and what didn’t. By using content analytics, such as intranet pageviews and other traffic metrics, you can check whether there’s broad enough interest to continue the effort needed for creating employee engagement campaigns. 

Whatever days you choose to mark, and however you mark them, we wish you good luck and a happy holiday season.

Keep internal comms fresh with 101 Employee Engagement Ideas

Increase employee engagement and improve your employee experience with creative internal communication ideas for every occasion.