No Holiday Party? Are You Losing Out on Employee Engagement?

December 23, 20158:43 am987 views

A well-run holiday celebration can be just as effective at improving employee engagement as a small cash bonus, according to CEB, a best practice insight and technology company.  However, effective end-of-year communications trump both.

Well-written and thoughtfully delivered communication from senior leaders thanking employees for the contributions they have made over the last year can improve employee engagement by more than 11 percent.

Engagement is critical in a world where employee willingness to go above and beyond at work is at the lowest level in four years. And while employees are unlikely to quit over the holidays, this is the time of the year when they make decisions about whether staying at their company is in their right long-term interests or not.

“Second only to their birthday, employees are most likely to make career decisions around the holidays as they spend time with friends and family,” said Brian Kropp, HR practice leader at CEB.

“From mid-December to mid-January employees reflect on the past year and make decisions about what they want to achieve in the next one. With seven-in-10 employees reporting that they are unhappy with their career opportunities, we may see more people making the choice to move on.”

Party Plans Still Pay Off

Forty-one percent of companies globally are planning to have a holiday party this year, which remains an effective strategy for boosting employee engagement at the end of the year and beyond. Not only can a company-sponsored party improve employee engagement by eight percent around the time of the event, but it also has a positive effect for the entire year following.

See: How to Solve the Employee Engagement Problem

To prevent disengagement, retain valuable staff and improve productivity, managers should spend time with each employee discussing the following things before leaving for the holidays:

  • How this year went: Managers must be able to effectively balance positive and negative feedback during any conversation. Simply sharing the positive or over-focusing on the negative doesn’t work; managers need to highlight both.
  • What next year will look like: The top driver of employee turnover is lack of career opportunities. Ensure employees have a clear picture of the opportunities for growth that will be available to them next year. Additionally, it’s important to discuss objectives for the coming year so that expectations are set appropriately.
  • What employees learned: Employees likely learned a variety of new skills and abilities in 2015, but may fail to realize it. When discussing the experiences and capabilities that helped them grow over the last year, employees are more likely to acknowledge and appreciate the investment the company has made in them.

“Spending time reminding employees of what they achieved, connecting their work back to organization goals and explaining what the team will aim to accomplish next year sets a valuable foundation for future success,” Kropp added.

“Now is the perfect time to deliver those messages, provided leaders communicate before any planned time off so that these themes are fresh for employees as they reflect over the holidays.”

Also read: Poor Employee Engagement Costs Companies Billions: Do You Agree?

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