14 Ways to Recognize Employees at Year-End


With the holidays around the corner, presents and vacation are top of mind for children and adults alike. However, tasked with planning a company celebration, HR may not be as excited as the rest.

Holiday celebrations can be fraught with HR nightmares, but they don’t have to be. The end of the year is the perfect time to recognize employees for their hard work and bring everyone together.

According to a recent study by Bank of America, 76 percent of small business owners are planning to celebrate the holidays with their employees. Beyond the classic holiday party or year-end bonus, many employers have found innovative ways to recognize employees and raise excitement for the upcoming year.

How can you take your year-end celebration to the next level? We talked to 14 companies to hear their best ideas and get inspired.

1. Weekend Getaway

Flash Europe, Contern, Luxembourg

700 Employees

With multiple offices across Europe, many of Flash Europe’s employees have only met colleagues virtually. Every year, the company hosts an event in a different European city—like Vienna or London. All employees are invited to a weekend celebration of the firm’s success.

2. Employee Awards

Big Sea, St. Petersburg, Florida

25 Employees

Big Sea hosts “the Core Awards” at their annual holiday party. Employees vote for individuals who best embody the company’s core values, and winners receive this feedback from their peers at the party, along with a personalized piece of art.

3. Winter Swag

Study.com, Mountain View, CA

100+ Employees

In addition to a festive holiday party, Study.com gifts all employees and their families with a variety of winter swag. From Patagonia fleece jackets to zip-up hoodies, they make sure to provide a range of styles that will keep their employees warm all season long.

4. Personalized Gifts

MonetizeMore, Victoria, BC, Canada

90+ Employees

Each full-time employee receives a personalized gift. The company hires experts to research each team member and come up with a gift that is unique. The company also hosts holiday parties in various parts of the world and executives share videos to thank the team.

5. Bring the Team Together

MyCorporation, Calabasas, CA

50 Employees

MyCorporation holiday parties combine an act of community service with an engaging team activity—always followed by a dinner outing. This year, the team plans to deliver gifts they purchased for a family in need and then complete an escape the room challenge together.

6. Give Back

DialMyCalls, Jupiter, FL

10 Employees

This year, instead of buying gifts for the team, this company decided that giving back to the community would be the most rewarding gift. Each team member got to sponsor a local child who was in need of some holiday cheering up. The company paid for every employee to pick out presents for their sponsored child.

7. Family Celebration

Talent Plus, Inc., Lincoln, Nebraska

130 Employees

Talent Plus hosts two holiday celebrations, including one just for the children of employees. Hosted at the office, there are craft projects, holiday treats decoration, as well as festive snacks. Mr. and Mrs. Claus even make an appearance and have a gift for each attendee!

8. Holiday Trip

elMejorTrato.com, Córdoba, Argentina

134 employees

This year, the company will take all staff to the mountains in Bariloche, Argentina for a week. The goal is to bring the team together outside of work and start the new year on a high note. In 2017 the team grew by 204 percent, so this holiday is designed to help integrate new team members.

9. Quarterly Christmas

Museum Hack, NYC

60 Employees

As an entirely remote team, “Quarterly Christmas” encourages department leads to send small gifts to employees four times a year. Previous gifts have included company totes and notebooks. This quarter, employees will receive an at-home movie night gift kit, including movie-rental codes, snacks, and other small treats—perfect for a cozy evening at home.

10. Personal Thank-You

Black n Bianco, El Monte, CA

25 Employees

At the end of year, this company brings employees together to celebrate the year’s milestones and bond with colleagues. At the celebration, the CEO, Lisa Chu gives out handwritten letters to each of her employees, recognizing their unique contributions and achievements.

11. New Year’s Party

SEMrush, Philadelphia, PA

500 Employees

SEMrush throws a New Year holiday party for all employees. This big event take months of preparation and even includes fireworks. Employees have the opportunity to get to know colleagues from different departments and enjoy food, refreshments, and of course, a gift.

12. Experiential Perks

Blueboard, San Francisco, CA

20 Employees

Blueboard’s entire business model revolves around helping employers reward their employees with incredible experiences—like glassblowing classes, surf lessons, a relaxing spa day, or even a trip to Iceland. Internally, this is no exception. In January, the team will head to San Diego for their annual company retreat, to kick off the new year with a trip employees won’t soon forget.

13. Holiday Auction

CBS Medical Billing & Consulting, Exeter & Portsmouth, NH

32 Employees

Throughout the year, employees have a chance to earn “CBS Bucks” in a number of ways—be it a simple act of kindness or answering a difficult question. At the holiday party, the CEO wraps up a myriad of gifts, ranging from a bag of onions to Bluetooth speakers. Employees can bid on them based on their wrapped appearance. No one leaves empty handed, and all share the excitement of outbidding one another for a surprise!

14. Extended Time Off

Community Health Charities, Alexandria, VA

55 Employees

In addition to their annual holiday party, this company closes their office the week before New Year's, to give team members time to travel and be with family. Employee wellness is a top priority, so this ensures that everyone enjoys the season and comes back rejuvenated.

The end of the year is a great time to remind employees why they love working for your company. Be sure to show them you value all the hard work they’ve done and bring them together to welcome in another great year.

How can you make your employees feel appreciated all year? Download our free guide to the elements of an effective reward system.

Topics: Talent, Employee Engagement, Performance Management

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