The holidays are an opportunity for employers to show their employees how much they appreciate their hard work year in and year out, and what shows appreciation better than a gift? There are plenty of employee gift guides out there that offer ideas of what to get employees, but they often don't include the things employees really want.
Luckily, we have the data that reveals what employees really would like for the holidays. While the results aren't necessarily surprising, they can help employers give a gift that boosts morale among employees and spreads some genuine holiday cheer. Forget the knickknacks and tchotchkes for decorating desks (although those are nice too) – here's what employees really want for the holidays.
A holiday bonus check
It should come as no surprise that many employees really want a holiday bonus. While it might not seem the most personal or thoughtful gift, you can be sure your employees consider it highly meaningful. In a day and age where almost 80 percent of employers offer a holiday bonus, many employees might even be expecting it. If you're not offering a holiday bonus, other gifts run the risk of falling flat against an employee's expectations. After all, what's better than the gift of some more liquid cash? If you can afford to cut your employees bonus checks this year, they're sure to appreciate it. [Looking for more gift ideas? Check out our list of inexpensive gifts your employees will love.]
Additional paid time off
It's no secret that many employees like to save their paid time off (PTO) for the holiday season, when their families are traveling for vacation or to see distant relatives. In a 2017 survey of workers conducted by Randstad, 70 percent of respondents confirmed that more time off around the holiday season was their top priority, and 62 percent of respondents planned to submit PTO requests. Unfortunately, 52 percent of respondents also noted their company gives no additional time off during the holidays, leaving their wish for more vacation days unfulfilled. If you're looking to give your employees a gift they won't forget and might not even expect, consider throwing a few no-strings-attached PTO days their way.
A company holiday party
Company holiday parties might not seem like the most important part of the holiday season, but research shows they do have a sizable impact on employee morale. In a 2017 BizBash survey, 7 out of 10 subjects said office holiday parties are important for boosting morale. Company parties are a great way to bring the team together in a more informal setting. If you really want to go the extra mile, consider renting out a venue so your employees can enjoy the party outside of the workplace. If you feel a little team-building is in order, a company party is a great opportunity to host a Secret Santa so your employees can show some appreciation to their co-workers as well.
Contribute to the public good
Today's employees, especially millennials, are concerned with working for a socially responsible employer. While this is a year-round effort that demands ethical processes and conscientious planning, it doesn't hurt to bolster your bona fides as a caring organization during the holiday season. There are several ways to do this, including organizing donation drives or volunteer opportunities through your company. Not only is volunteering or donating to a good cause a positive thing to do, but it also boosts employee satisfaction and builds team cohesion, as it requires employees and employers to band together in pursuit of a common goal outside their job descriptions.
A handwritten, personalized thank-you card
"It's the thought that counts" rings true when acknowledging your employees' hard work and sacrifices. A personalized, handwritten card from a manager or employer can go a long way to make employees feel respected and honored within the company. It's easy, especially in large organizations, for employees to feel like a number, more of an asset than a human being. Showing them that you recognize their personal efforts and individuality is a simple yet powerful way to thank your employees for another hard-fought year. A note of gratitude can easily be coupled with any other gifts or perks you offer at the end of the year to make it that much more meaningful.