How to Keep Your Employees Motivated Through the Holiday Season

Happier employees mean better customer service and higher sales.
Host an office party and give employees a chance to get in the holiday spirit. (Photo: Pressmaster/Shutterstock)


“Take time to thank each [employee] personally for the contributions that he or she has made to the business during the year. Remind them that you appreciate them.” -Kevin Mulcahy (Photo: Kevin Mulcahy)

The holiday season is, in theory, a time of peace and joy. But for retail employees, between working extra-long shifts and dealing with rushed and cranky customers, the weeks between Black Friday and New Year’s can be some of the most challenging.

Yet providing outstanding customer service is more important than ever during this critical shopping window. It’s what sets small business apart from the chains and big-box stores and helps build a base of loyal patrons.

So aside from adding more staffers at peak periods to handle the crunch, try these strategies to keep the smiles on your employees’ faces.

Give the gift of time. Your employees are just as eager as your customers to finish their holiday shopping and errands, noted Kevin Mulcahy, co-host of The Future Workplace Network, a membership community for human resources executives. “Some employers encourage a two-hour lunch break or let employees pick a half-day or full day off to get their chores done,” he said.

Give presents. A surprise $25 or $50 gift voucher to a popular store is a much-appreciated gesture. Given early, it will also help your employees buy gifts for their loved ones or items they can use for their holiday entertaining. Slip the vouchers into a holiday card you’ve signed with a personal message of appreciation.

Decorate the workplace as a team. “Invite people to participate, and if your business has a holiday tree, invite your employees to bring in or place an ornament on it,” Mulcahy suggested.

Make time to have a private party. “Create a space for your business to acknowledge the holidays for employees,” said Mulcahy. Close the doors for a few hours and hire a temp or two to field phone calls; restaurants can have a get-together before or after normal service hours. “Customers will forgive a ‘Closed for the afternoon to celebrate the holidays’ sign, and employees will appreciate the gesture.”


An office gift swap can help motivate and connect employees. (Photo: viki2win/Shutterstock)

Hold a secret gift swap. Follow the “secret Santa” tradition of having each staffer choose a name from a hat and buy a gift for that person (set a low price limit). Do the gift exchange during a staff party. Or, as an alternative, hold a gift swap with the staff of a neighboring business.

Do good as a group. Pick a worthy cause, such as a local food bank or children’s charity, and arrange to volunteer as a team for several hours on one of your less-busy days. It’s a good way to help everyone on your team, including yourself, remember what true holiday spirit is all about. Embracing corporate social responsibility can also be good for business.

Want to make even more of an impression on your employees? Mulcahy said he knows bosses who’ve provided and paid for lunch every Friday and Saturday in December, who’ve paid the entry fees for employees who wished to participate in local charity runs and who’ve donated $100 to each employee’s favorite charity.

But if you don’t have deep pockets, no problem. Even a few well-chosen words can brighten your staffers’ mood.

“Take time to thank each one personally for the contributions that he or she has made to the business during the year,” advised Mulcahy. “Remind them that you appreciate them.” It’s an easy way to give back — and give everyone a morale boost.

Want A Demo?

Sign up for a POS demo from NCR Silver today.

Let’s Connect

Have a direct line of communication with NCR Silver and get the latest news on the social media site of your choice.