The Christmas season is upon us! It’s a time of year to reflect on our good fortune, seek out opportunities to give to others, and to spend time with family. Naturally, people want to bring some of that Christmas cheer into their workplace. Here are a few things employees want from work at Christmas.

Time off and flexible schedules

Between trips to visit family, children’s holiday plays, and other seasonal adventures, people want their employers to give them some flexibility. Whether that means manager approval to take time off for a few weeks or simply skipping out early on Christmas Eve, employees will appreciate whatever time you can give them. Many non-retail businesses experience a seasonal lull around the holidays. Therefore, giving employees a little more flexibility in their schedules probably won’t significantly affect business but will show them that you value their personal time.

Christmas party

Whether your holiday party is an informal gathering during the work day or a dressed-to-the-nines event for the whole family, co-workers will enjoy spending a few hours relaxing with one another. The nature of a Christmas party should reflect company culture—informal or formal? Low-key or revelrous?—and can even be an opportunity for employees to give back to their peers. Some people enjoy baking desserts for their co-workers or preparing their own small gift bags for their work friends.

Appreciation and recognition

If you’re unsure of the best way to give back to your employees, thanking them for their hard work is a good place to start. You can recognize them in a company announcement or send them a personal note thanking them for their contributions. During the holiday season, consider sending each employee a company Christmas card with a personal note that outlines why you’re glad to have them on your team. However you do it, demonstrating you are thankful for your team members will brighten their day.


Many companies offer employees a quarterly or annual bonus. Bonuses are unexpected compensation you give in appreciation of your employees. It’s a simple way to share in the profits of your team’s work. Especially during the gift-giving season, people will appreciate having a little extra money in their pockets. Allocating a set amount of profit toward employee bonuses and equally dividing it is the simplest way to set bonuses. However, some companies choose to allocate bonuses based on management’s discretion, seniority, or other factors that can be fairly applied to all employees.

Physical gifts

Company swag such as coffee mugs, sweatshirts, and other apparel are common corporate Christmas gifts for employees. You may also have a raffle for high-dollar items such as new smartphones or gift cards to nice restaurants. Gifts give your employees something tangible as a sign of your appreciation for their good work. Alternatively, instead of buying gifts for everyone, you can set up a Secret Santa gift exchange, letting employees choose gifts for one another. Maintaining a list of employee wish lists will help employees find appropriate gifts that their co-workers will appreciate.

Charitable donations

Giving to charity is a common alternative to physical gifts. If you know of a specific cause your employees care about, consider making a donation in their name. Donating to an employee’s favorite charity demonstrates that you took time to understand a cause they find important and wanted to show your support. Oxfam Gifts is another option: they let you donate on behalf of a person, and then notify the person that they need to choose how to allocate the donation. This gives your employee options without you having to understand precisely which charitable cause is most important to them.

Volunteer opportunities

Also consider organizing a volunteer opportunity in your community. Find out what local causes your team members care about, and reach out to relevant nonprofits to see if they would like your company to dedicate a few hours to helping them during the holidays. Many nonprofits have more volunteers than they need during the holiday season, but may need a helping hand throughout the rest of the year. Therefore, consider either planning ahead to schedule something during the holidays or plan on volunteering earlier in the year when nonprofits need your help the most. Volunteering is a good team-building activity, as you get to work toward a common goal as peers instead of people who report to one another in an org chart.

Make a great place to work all year round

Create an account for Insight and you’ll have access to our entire leadership development toolkit. It includes employee engagement surveys and a playbook full of specific actions you can take to increase employee engagement. Send a survey in moments, analyze employee feedback, and read industry-leading leadership advice tailored to your employees’ needs. Send an employee engagement survey with Insight, and we’ll show you exactly how you can best support each team member based on what they care about most.