The time of year affectionately referred to as “the holidays”, spanning from Halloween to New Year’s Eve, encompasses every welcome excuse for a good time. The changing of the seasons and the meanings behind each holiday inspire celebration, giving, and caring. However, the uncertainty created by COVID-19 will make the holidays challenging in 2020. Visiting a pumpkin patch as a team or baking cookies for the office is no longer practical. We’ve all adapted to new circumstances amid the pandemic, but the holidays will require special attention and intention to bring connectedness to the remote workplace.
Employers and managers have an opportunity to keep teams engaged and connected, as well as build team (holiday) spirit. At HiringThing, we’re a 100% remote company, so we’re experts at celebrating at a distance. Here’s how we do it!
It must be acknowledged that people may celebrate different holidays than you, or celebrate them differently. Don’t assume your employees celebrate Christian American holidays. Strive for inclusivity by focusing your festivities on activities that are not culture-specific or based in religion. If you do acknowledge one holiday, be sure to properly acknowledge them all.
So how do you create the warm, fuzzy feelings associated with the holidays during these unique times? Here are four tips to reach beyond the virtual happy hour and establish new traditions:
Though physical closeness isn’t in the cards, you can still host virtual events to bring colleagues together. Try games that foster team building and encourage engagement, or host a structured party that shows appreciation for accomplishments, such as a year in review celebration. Here at HiringThing, we also create Spotify music playlists that everyone contributes to, bringing a little bit of one another into each other’s workspaces.
As a 100% remote company, while we don’t physically meet often, we get to know each other on a personal level with Slack channels to talk about shared interests. In our channel called Mandatory Happy Fun Time, regular prompts invite everyone to share stories or photos, such as the latest vacation or our families and pets. One holiday season, we got to know the amazing humans we work with by connecting around our hobbies and interests. Drawing names, team members would drop in on a co-worker through Slack throughout the season to create moments of joy, whether that was sending a kind message or sharing a great article they knew would make them happy. Times are tight, and these no-cost celebrations are cause for celebration as well!
Giving is a great way to show appreciation and get to know your teams, either by giving to your employees directly or hosting an exchange. Make gifts work-appropriate like food delivery gift cards or a stipend for professional development courses. We host an annual gift exchange each year where participants are given a person to shop for based on that person’s specific likes and interests. Setting a limit makes it an even playing field. Note that not every culture engages in gift giving, so be mindful that gifts are inclusive.
A socially-responsible way to show community support and spread goodness is donating time or money to charity. Consider instituting a volunteer program to allow employees to volunteer a few hours on company time to a local food bank, community center or finding ways to thank and honor essential workers.
“We encourage our team to give back by volunteering time to causes that are near and dear to our hearts.” – Becca Noland, HiringThing’s HR extraordinaire
VolunteerThing, our volunteer program, invites HiringThing employees to volunteer in their community for a day each year, all while being paid. Alternatively, you can make a difference for someone in need by donating funds on behalf of the organization to causes that align with the company values.
In a time defined by distance and uncertainty, it’s important to be intentional about showing your employees recognition, care, and appreciation this holiday season. Be purposeful by engaging your team with jovial social activities and demonstrations of giving back. Moving to a remote work strategy does not mean we lose our work relationships – it’s important to start planning now to bring joy to everyone this holiday season!