Showing Appreciation for Your Employees on a Tight Budget
The holidays are almost here, and at this time of year, managers, directors, and company owners start thinking of ways to show their hard working employees how much they’re appreciated, not just as workers but as people. During flush years, this is the time to throw lavish parties if you run the office or own the company. And if you manage a team or even just a single assistant, this is the time to present your dedicated underlings (or underling) with thoughtful gifts and a bit of warm, personal recognition.
But what if this isn’t a flush year? What if you’re barely able to make your payroll each month? Even worse, what if you’re facing the threat, or the reality, of layoffs and cutbacks? Aside from sitting your employees down for a heart-to-heart chat about absent bonuses, what can you do to avoid canceling the holiday spirit altogether and letting grim reality wear away at office morale?
First, navigate the tricky issue of gifts. Office gift giving can be awkward anyway, even during the best of times. Instead of straightforward gifts this year, organize a Pollyanna or Secret Santa game. A little structure can help set price limits and make sure each person doesn’t feel obligated to buy more than one item.
Next, scale down the party. But do so gently and discretely. If you don’t know how, get help. Talk to a professional event coordinator and be clear about your budget. Depending on your starting point, a fun but relaxed venue, light refreshments instead of dinner, and plastic instead of glassware can go a long way. Raise the feeling of ceremony with a few pre-planned and heartfelt speeches.
Finally, ease up. If you have to throw the event at a fire hall this year instead of a convention center, be dignified, but humble. Watch your speech and demeanor at the party. Warm up and open up to your employees on a level consistent with your company’s reduction in circumstances. Don’t stay stiff, distant and judgmental. If you want to keep your employees and their respect, accept reality and be willing to bring yourself down a notch. Your grace and flexibility will be remembered when the good times return.