Make the Holidays Sweeter for Employees by Connecting Them with Their Community

Posted by Michelle White on Dec. 10, 2018

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays… everywhere you go.

For a lot of us this means lengthy to-do lists, congested commutes and throngs of shoppers at every turn. But the holiday season also brings a glimmer of magic, increased hope and opportunities aplenty to give.

For employers it’s the perfect time to invest a little extra in the Employee Experience… to show them their efforts are appreciated and provide them with opportunities that make their season a little more joyful.

The holidays bring an increased desire for belonging. For a sense of community. People yearn to feel valued, needed and part of something bigger than themselves. And believe it or not, giving that to your employees may be easier than you think.

Opportunities to strengthen community ties exist just about everywhere you look – especially during the most wonderful time of the year. 

Here are a few things you can do:

Arrange Opportunities for Employees to Give Back to the Community

According to research by Monster, workers overwhelmingly want their job to mean more than just a paycheck. So it makes sense that 93% of nonprofit employees are engaged at work – a rate triple the national average.

But just because your company is for profit, doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for workers to feel connected to a higher purpose at work.

Many worthwhile giving initiatives have a global reach. But often, the most meaningful experiences happen right within the communities where we live and work. It’s one thing to donate money to a national charity, it’s quite another to know you helped provide warm clothing and a gift or two for a family down the street.

School Drive-1Our company, Access Development, organizes multiple opportunities for employees to contribute to the community, particularly during this time of year. We’ve provided shoes for low-income students at a nearby elementary school, collected food for the local food bank and participated in Sub-4-Santa drives for neighborhood kids.

In our case, the benefits of these efforts don’t just impact those in need. They lift the spirits of the employees who participate and build camaraderie around the office. The food drive provides a great opportunity for a friendly competition among departments and turns into a wildly successful team-building experience.

Help Employees Save Money When They Support Local Businesses

Shopping local is about more than just convenience. It’s great for the economy and helps provide jobs for many of our neighbors. On top of that, it feels great to support the “moms and pops” that make our communities what they are.

But no matter where you shop, no one likes to pay full price. This is especially true during the holidays when shopping lists are a mile long. In addition to buying gifts, many families spend more on groceries for family dinners and at restaurants as they are out and about shopping and enjoying holiday festivities.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that employee discount programs get used a ton during the holiday season.

And while discounts at national online retailers are great, only 9% of last year’s retail spending happened online. The remaining 91% took place in brick-and-mortar stores within our local communities. In fact, 80% of consumers’ discretionary spending occurs within 20 miles of their home.

Providing discounts to your employees will be abundantly appreciated – as long as they’re the right ones.

Hook them up with relevant deals so they save on lunch at restaurants near the office or at the dry cleaner around the corner, not to mention on all their Christmas shopping. Then if you really want to impress them, throw in the discounts for their online shopping and it’s just icing on the cake.

Partner With Community Organizations to Provide Employee Perks

In my very first job, working at a mom-and-pop creperie, my manager would arrange trades with the ice cream shop next door. We’d make them crepes and they’d bring us ice cream. It was a tiny gesture that cost next to nothing and absolutely made our day.

Cartoon-CommunityThe holiday season brings ample opportunity to show your employees some extra love. And typically, one needn’t look further than the nearby community for solutions. Because real life is local.

When deciding which perks employees will appreciate most, look for things that cross items off their insurmountable to-do lists.

Consider bringing in professionals that’ll do oil changes right in the company parking lot. Bring in a barber so employees can get their hair cut without leaving the office. Turn to local businesses to find quick and simple ways to make your employees’ lives a little easier.

I'll Be Home for the Holidays

Often, we think we need to go big and bold in order to make an impact. When in reality, the things that usually mean the most are those that hit closest to home. And that’s never more true than it is during the busy holiday season.

Employees want to feel connected to the community. When employers help make that happen, they reap a deeper connection with the employee as well.

For other insights about earning employee engagement during the holidays, check out our article The Risks and Rewards of Corporate Holiday Gifts and Bonuses.

Topics: holidays, Employee Engagement + Loyalty, Employee Benefits

Michelle White

Written by Michelle White

Michelle White has held a variety of roles with Access over the last 15 years that focus on both member and employee loyalty. She loves books, the piano and peach snow cones.