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9 ways to keep employees motivated and productive during the holidays

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Dec. 3, 2014
HR experts and business leaders share their strategies on how to ensure employees are productive between Thanksgiving and just after the New Year.

At, a marketplace for local florists, for example, they have a Paintball Day just before Thanksgiving, where they take the entire team to play paintball. It's a great way to have fun and bond, says Farbod Shoraka, cofounder and CEO, also sponsors an Arcade Night for employees, another opportunity for employees to have fun and bond with coworkers -- and feel good about the company.

3. Give out awards. "During the weeks between Thanksgiving and right after the New Year, begin a tradition of handing out weekly employee recognition awards," suggests Spinks. "This will encourage employees to continue to work hard and will motivate them to go to the office to see if they are an award recipient," he says. "Management can take it a step further by talking up the awards and sending out company-wide emails to encourage some friendly competition."

4. Provide free food. "Never underestimate the power of food, especially when it's free!" states Karen Miller, senior vice president, People, at food delivery service GrubHub. "The holidays are an opportunity for organizations to showcase that they care about their employees. And one way to do this is by offering perks like food in the office," she says. Indeed, "the 2014 Seamless Corporate Accounts Food in the Workplace survey found that 57 percent of respondents said food-based perks make them feel more valued and appreciated by their employers, and 50 percent said food in the office makes them feel more satisfied with their employers."

5. Sponsor a volunteer day. "Give the team a day or half-day off to volunteer at a charity of their choice or as a company," says Susan Wojtkowski, founder, TalentKey HR. "It will promote fellowship and good will."

6. Pamper your employees. "Every year, we hire a massage therapist to come in and give the team back massages," says Shoraka. "This helps everyone to feel rejuvenated and give one last big push to finish the year strong."

Also consider bringing in a yoga and/or meditation specialist into the office. The need to de-stress "becomes especially important around the holidays when stress levels tend to be high," says Jeremy Smith, cofounder & COO, of SpotHero , an on-demand parking app that helps drivers find parking and reserve a spot. "Having someone come to the office makes it very easy for employees to take a break from their busy schedules and find a moment to relax."

7. Have staff engage in friendly competitions. "This holiday season, I purchased FitBits for everyone in the office for a healthy walking competition amongst the teams," says Alex Debelov, CEO, Virool, a video marketer. "Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, everyone will be competing for the most number of steps taken. The winner will receive a year-long gym membership to kick off a healthy and happy 2015."


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