The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, but it can also be a season of unique challenges for those tasked with keeping colleagues engaged and motivated. Help your co-workers end the year on a high with these creative holiday comms ideas.

The world around us is always evolving, and with the ongoing impact of global events, it’s not uncommon for individuals to be grappling with various forms of stress and blues. Your mission as a communicator remains consistent: how can you lift spirits, spread happiness, motivate, and engage employees, regardless of the challenges they face?

Whether it’s the desire to finish the year on a high note or to spark enthusiasm for the year ahead, the holiday period is the perfect time to bring everybody closer together (even if it’s virtually) to celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and more.

This time of year provides a wealth of opportunities to inject fun and inspiration into your internal communications. By tapping into the following festive engagement ideas, you can help to keep colleagues engaged, motivated, and excited through the holiday season and beyond.

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.

14 steps to creating an effective comms strategy

Build a hybrid workforce comms plan that engages dispersed employees.

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.

Unsung heroes of the year

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’.

14 steps to creating an effective comms strategy

Build a hybrid workforce comms plan that engages dispersed employees.

Get social

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 intranet 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 knitwear

‘Tis the season of questionable knitwear, and if your organization can commit to a dedicated festive 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.

14 steps to creating an effective comms strategy

Build a hybrid workforce comms plan that engages dispersed employees.

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. A substantial 82% of employees think it’s better to give someone praise than a gift. Take this opportunity to indulge in a bit of employee recognition give your staff the gift of gratitude with personal tokens of thanks.

Ask line managers to write a single sentence about each team member on a festive card; or, if you have the resource, consider adding personalization via 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 the past 12 months

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 the year’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 of 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 holiday song 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.

Don’t be afraid to ask employees what kind of comms or engagement activities might help make their holiday season a bit brighter. There is so much untapped potential in employee ideas and your organization could gain some additional kudos for listening and understanding their needs.

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.

Marking this celebratory season with themed and fun-filled communications can really help to maintain productivity levels and get people feeling motivated for January’s fresh start.

There’s no knowing what next year will bring, but connecting and engaging your colleagues with communications that resonate will be essential for starting the new year on a high. One thing is for sure, and that’s that modern intranet software will continue to be a powerful tool that allows you to reach every employee, and gives everybody an opportunity to be heard, no matter where they’re based.

However you choose to celebrate in your organization, we wish you and your colleagues a happy holiday season, and a prosperous and productive New Year!

14 steps to creating an effective comms strategy

Build a hybrid workforce comms plan that engages dispersed employees.