Tomorrow, many of your employees will sit down with friends and family to celebrate the year and all they have to be thankful for. Our industry has a lot to be thankful for as well. Which means this a great year to say thanks in a unique way to those who have helped your company be successful.

Nobody succeeds alone. You know this. Without great employees and quality customers, there would be no business to celebrate. One of the easiest ways to show them your gratitude is by simply saying, “thank you.” Most leaders will send out emails thanking their teams for the work they’ve done over the past year. Most companies will send an email, or even thank you card, to some of their best customers as a sign of good will. Most companies already do these things (yours may be included – well done!).

But what if you want to do more than “most companies” this year? What if you wanted to step up and exceed your employees and customers expectations and really show them your gratitude? What if you could say thanks in a way that will make them say “Wow!”?

Well, we have some ideas that might just make you the talk of the holiday party this year. Like any of the best ideas, these are not hard to do. These ideas just take a little more effort to execute.

Here are some of the unique ways that we think you could say thanks to your customers and employees, and make them feel extra special this holiday season:

Say Thanks with Video “Thank You” Cards

You may already send out holiday emails to your customers and staff. That’s great! Because all it takes to change people’s reactions from “that’s nice” to “that was amazing!” is a small tweak to the way you deliver your message.

Recording quick videos has never been easier. You may already have everything you need in the palm of your hand. By using your own phone’s video camera, and a simple editing app like iMovie (for iPhone users), you can quickly record, edit, and publish a more personal thank you message.

Not an iPhone user? Here are some video editing apps for Android users, too.

Want to take it a step further? Use the actual names of some of your best customers when you say thanks in your video. That tells them you’re not only grateful for their business, but that you specifically remember who they are.

Seeing a notable company leader, like your CEO or President, talking directly to them, adds a level of trust and personal connection that your employees and customers will really appreciate. This elevates your message and helps your company stand out in your industry.

Say Thanks with Some Unique, Local Art

A lot of companies will invest in gifts for their employees as a way to say thanks during the holidays. Some companies will even go an extra step to give their employees something truly memorable, which can work really well when unique gifts match unique companies.

But for most businesses not working in a niche that offers obvious novelty, one way to stand apart and say thanks with unique gifts is by turning to your local art scene.

People love having unique art in their homes. It makes them feel like they are also unique. They will be able to display something that their friends can’t just run out and buy at the local furniture mart. And it can serve as a conversation piece for their guests during holiday parties.

By gifting local art your company accomplishes three things:

  • You infuse the spirit of your local community into the homes of your employees, giving them a stronger connection to where they live.
  • You help support local artists over the holidays who are trying to support their own families with what they create.
  • You show your people that you care so much about what they have contributed that you are willing to go the extra step to say thanks. That extra level of appreciation will go a long way towards increasing employee satisfaction.

Take a little time to look up local galleries and studios in your area. Find out who the artists are that have work they can sell, then choose a few to purchase from. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on large pieces of art. Small paintings and sculptures still offer tremendous value to the people you give them to.

Want to take it even further? Invite some local artists to set up an “art fair” for your employees. You can give them a stipend, or a spending limit, to purchase something for their homes. It’ll be kind of like a “white elephant” party where they get to pick their own, unique gift.

You create an event where your employees can bring home truly unique gifts, while also connecting to local makers and artisans.

Say Thanks by Paying for Online Learning Courses

This may sound like a strange gift. But, more and more, employees are looking for opportunities to learn and grow while on the job. Online education courses are a great way to help your employees improve their skills, and expand their knowledge in in areas of interest. You can even encourage them to learn something new that has nothing to do with their jobs. By supporting your employees’ education goals, you help them become better versions of themselves.

Ask your employees where they want to develop, and give them access to those learning tools. Demonstrate that you are willing to invest in them, and they will invest their best in you.

Places like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and Lynda.com are great platforms for online courses. You can get many of the courses for $20 or less. So the investment on your company’s part is not high, but the return will be immeasurable for your employees.

Say Thanks by Creating Agents of Charity

‘Tis the season for company sponsored donations and toy drives. These are a great way for businesses like yours to give back to the community each year. And like many other companies, yours probably already does something like this. That’s fantastic!

But, again, what if you want to do something extra special, say thanks in a way that really stands out? One way you can take it to the next level is by turning your employees into the agents of charity for your company.

What does that mean?

Many of your employees love opportunities to give back to their community in ways that are more engaging than just writing checks. Organizing toy drives is one way they express that desire. It’s more direct, more hands-on. But you, as a company, can actually help enable them to have even more agency in community efforts to give back.

A number of companies have created programs in which they provide the resources for employees to give back in more active ways. For example, they allot a certain amount of money that employees can donate themselves, or they sponsor events in which employees come together to help out.

Here is how two companies have turned their employees into Agents of Charity:

NVIDIA – Project Inspire

Every year, NVIDIA invites their employees to participate in giving back through this program in lieu of a holiday party. They donate the funds for their holiday party to causes such as, cleaning up schools in Oregon, or refurbishing computers in North Carolina.

Since NVIDIA’s operations are not limited to the United States, German employees contributed by helping revitalize a youth center in Berlin. NVIDIA’s charitable contributions become an international effort simply by engaging their employees in the process. As they say on their website:

“Employees and their families volunteer side by side with other community members to bring new life to local schools and other nonprofit organizations.”

Bell Bank – Pay it Forward

Bell Bank gives their employees money every year for the express purpose of redirecting that money to charitable donations or activities ($1,000 for full time employees, $500 for part-time). Each employee can decide how they want to use the money that the bank gives them:

“Each Bell employee decides how to Pay It Forward. Many choose individual gifts, while others pool their funds through formal and informal efforts with their colleagues.
Some employees even partner with outside donors, businesses and foundations to further extend the program’s impact.”

The benefit of this level of direct agency is that you give your people stories that they can live into. And in this age of social media, these kinds of stories are invaluable for your company’s exposure. After all, when your employees are taking selfies, who is being featured in the background?

 

Take these ideas as suggestions to spark some creativity in your company this year. You can always keep doing what you’ve done. But if you want to take a new step, invest just a little more time and resources into your people, you can say thanks in more surprising and personal ways.

When you connect with your employees and customers on a more personal level, you show them that you care about who they are as people. You tell them that their value is greater than simply what they do for your business.

You are writing new stories into the world, together. And that is something worth celebrating this holiday season.

 

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