Well, the holiday season is upon us. Before you dole out a holiday bonus or send your assistant to fetch more knick-knacks, slogan-wear, or fruit baskets, you might think about what will be more meaningful to your employees. Based on our recent research, we learned that fulfillment was in short supply. Over 80 percent of employees sought more fulfillment in their lives. And because work was first or second in importance to fulfillment for most people—they spend 50 percent or more of their non-sleep time at work—their job and employer influence their fulfillment a great deal.
We also know from our research that fulfillment leads to more productive employees. Highly fulfilled employees we interviewed talked about being more engaged at work, eager to take on new challenges, and often volunteer for special projects both at work and in their communities. In short, the more fulfilled people were more aligned, capable and engaged at work.
Here are six ways to gift your employees this holiday that will increase their fulfillment:
1. Recognize People. Recognition is one of the most powerful forms of motivation. Who doesn’t like to be thanked? Most of your employees have worked hard during the year to make the organization more successful, and yet too often, that effort goes unnoticed or unrecognized. Even in tough years when the company is struggling, your people are doing their best to make the company successful. Thanks should come from both the immediate manager and from senior management. That could be in the form of an all-employee video or personalized letter to your people, a bonus, or small gifts that say, “I recognize what you do.” But gifts without a recognition ‘thank-you,’ will not increase their fulfillment.
2. Celebrate. While recognition is important, celebration brings about team or department good will and camaraderie, leading to closer working relationships in the future. There is so much to celebrate, even in down years. Most organizations have invested in good talent, overcome obstacles, reached hurdles, built new products, acquired new customers, and many other achievements. Parties, lunches, or toasting are fine but they should include messages about accomplishments during the past year. Or you might think about something quirky—going to a winery, bowling, snowmobiling, boating—that signify something is special and different from the norm. Celebrate and get the New Year off to a good start emotionally.
3. Remember Employees’ Families. Your hard working employees are often bolstered by great families—persons or groups that enable your people to manage their work and non-work lives. Your employees have varied and rich lives outside of work that are often overlooked. We are finding at the Metrus Institute that great leaders not only understand the challenges of work and home, but get to know their contributors in deeper ways. They know who has elder care issues, who is going to school, who is dealing with child-rearing challenges, and who might be alone at the holidays. Engaging your employees beyond the work brings about stronger bonds and loyalty. At Metrus, we include spouses or significant others in our holiday party. You might send a gift home with an important message to the family. Or, perhaps create a fun event—carnival, movie night, concert—in which employees and their family and friends can participate. Try it, you’ll feel rewarded by it.
4. Remind People About Your Company’s Mission and Vision. All employees want to work for an organization that has a purpose. When employees have options, they want to be affiliated with a company, non-profit, or agency that is making a difference. A compelling mission and vision are key requirements to the alignment mentioned above which drives fulfillment.
5. Tell Employees How They Will Grow in the Future. The end of the year is often a time when employees take stock of how they have grown over the past year. If they have been denied access to training, not been stretched in some new way, or don’t see development in the future, some will be searching for a new role, and others will simply be less motivated. End the year discussing some new opportunities for your people to grow next year. Give them something to look forward to.
6. Give Back.The most fulfilled people in our research talked about giving back and valuing employers who give back to the community in one form or another.
Try a few of these year-end gifts. The more you enable your employees to have greater fulfillment in their lives, the more your organization will be rewarded in their greater commitment and energy.