4 Ways to Keep Employee Morale High through the End of the Year

Smiling employee with high morale happy to be at work.

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Many companies feel pressure at the end of the year because they’re rushing to meet deadlines and other objectives. In addition, the teams who are working to meet their goals may be worried about Thanksgiving and Christmas time off getting in the way of their work.

According to a 2020 study conducted by YouGov America, 52% of people reported that the holiday season is the most stressful time of year. This is why companies need to do what they can to keep employee morale high. No one wants to start their holiday vacation and the new year burnt out! 

How to keep employee morale high

To help, here are some tips managers can use to ensure their teams are happy and healthy through the end of the year.

1. Change up the morning commute

Keeping employee morale high with special coffee breaks
Catered coffee or tea is a wonderful perk that can help keep employee morale high.

For companies based in cities with large mass transit systems, such as New York or Chicago, the morning rush can make or break your workday. To change things up, create a commute buddy system. Employees pair up to meet for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat near the office before coming to work. This can be done by pairing two people per group from different departments and helps workers better understand other roles in their company, as well as allowing them to gain knowledge about different workflows.

Those with offices based in smaller towns, reach out to your local coffee shops and have them cater with coffee carafes and other breakfast essentials. Encourage your workers to come early to socialize and wake up with some of your area’s best local coffee, freshly brewed!

Not only are you supporting small businesses, but it’ll open up your teams to become new patrons of those cafés.

Create commuter goodie bags for employees

Management can also score major kudos from their teams by making a commuter goodie bag with must-haves for those who ride the train or bus to work. This can include masks, hand sanitizer, gum, breath spray, or even breakfast granola bars.

Put yourself in your workers’ shoes and think outside the box. For example, team members who wear glasses have to deal with foggy lenses from wearing masks. To help prevent foggy glasses, consider throwing some anti-fog spray in their goodie bags so they can see clearly and they can have smooth sailing getting into the office. 

2. Spice up your employees’ lunch hour

Filling out holiday cards

Now that you have the morning hours figured out, it’s time to spice up lunchtime for your workers. Catered lunches are always a crowd pleaser everyone enjoys, plus employees don’t have to worry about packing a lunch for the day. Think about going beyond normal lunchtime activities with some of these suggestions this season!

Decorate cookies together

Stock up on sugar cookie decoration kits and have your workers craft some visually appealing treats! These are kits made for every holiday ranging from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It can get people in the break room chatting with each other while also providing a sweet treat afterward.

Do some good

The holidays are a time for caring, and a great way for employees to decompress during the lunch hour is by getting them involved in some philanthropic efforts. This can both be mentally pleasing and make them feel better about their efforts.

For example, have your company partner with local senior living facilities and task your employees with writing out greeting cards that can be mailed to lonely seniors who need some extra love this holiday season. Or, you can send care packages with cards to those serving overseas to give them a little holiday cheer as they’re most likely not going to be home for the holidays.

Holiday Cards for our Military is a great organization that’ll send cards overseas on your behalf! They even have a wonderful resource page that provides prompts and suggestions for what to write in your cards. Definitely worth checking out.

Are you the creative type? Creating your own holiday cards is also an option with this service. If you’re up for some DIY card making, you can first create your own cards, then use their service to send notes to your friends and family members.

Spend time with pets

Here’s another way to keep employee morale high: ask if your local dog shelters can bring over some pups to play with during lunchtime!

Research shows that dogs can help lower stress and anxiety. It’s a great way to show off dogs who are ready to be adopted, have your workers decompress, and maybe even add to their families. Just be mindful of pet allergies; it may be better to host the pups outdoors or away from work areas.

3. Allow time for employees to exercise

Employees getting

Although employees are allowed a lunch break, that’s not always enough to keep them going throughout the work day. Fatigue can come at any point of the day, so allow your employees to take 15-20 minute breaks to help them remain sharp and finish the day strong.

Some easy ways to take a break include taking a walk outside and doing some laps around the block. An article from Men’s Health reports that spending at least 20 minutes outside a day can boost cognition, increase memory retention, and improve overall well-being.

But, these benefits can only be achieved by prioritizing time outside on during breaks instead of scrolling through a phone. 

4. Shake up the usual happy hour

Themed holiday drinks
Themed happy hour is a great way to keep employee morale high during the holiday rush.

Company happy hours provide a great opportunity for everybody to mingle and unwind after a long day of work. Happy hours encourage staff members of your organization to network and get to know each other on a more personal level. 

Consider hosting a themed happy hour to further cement higher workplace morale with your employees. GrubHub suggests planning these around major sporting events, such as a local home game, or of course, themed around the different winter holidays.

For example, have your team come dressed in their ‘finest’ ugly holiday sweaters and host a competition to see who has the best ugliest sweater in the company.

Other ways to keep employee morale high

Here are a few other ideas for using happy hour events:

  • Design a trivia game during happy hour to strengthen team building. Make sure you throw in decent prizes, such as gift cards or other company swag to increase motivation for your workers to sign up and play.
  • Host a karaoke session or explore other team-building activities. These can help employees break out of their shells to have a little fun together! 

The end of the year is a hectic time, but implementing these tips can help your team stay motivated and prepared to finish the working year on a high note. Burnout can be unavoidable sometimes, but providing your employees with the necessary resources that focus on their well-being will help keep morale high through the end of the year.

For additional tips, see our article on Holiday Advice for New Managers. It’s packed with practical pointers from members of the TimeForge team.

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