7 Ways to Keep Your Employees Engaged Over the Holidays

Author: Kristina Proffitt

7th December 2018

The holiday season is well and truly here. Cue the never-ending stream of Christmas songs, gingerbread lattes, and questions about whom you’re spending the holidays with.

While all of these things are inevitable, this time of year can lead to a drop in productivity, too. Employees are preoccupied with secret Santas and trying to decide whether to have turkey or beef with their Christmas meal. The last thing on their minds is work.

That’s why it’s important to create an atmosphere that both welcomes the festive period but also encourages employees to engage with their everyday tasks.

As the year winds down it’s a time to reflect on what happened – good and bad – and what can be improved for the year ahead. It’s also a good time to wrap things up ready for a fresh start in the new year.

So how do you keep your employees engaged over the holidays? Here are a few ideas.

Embrace the holiday spirit

For most people, the holiday season is a time of fun and job. Embrace it by letting employees decorate the office however they see fit. This gives them more control over their environment, increasing their agency and making them feel more at home in the office.

You could also have holiday-themed team-building activities, buy some festive foods for the office, or have an office get-together where everyone brings in their favorite foods.

Make sure everyone is given the chance to take part in the festivities, too. Leaving employees out makes them feel isolated and like they’re not a valued part of the team.

Get their opinions on activities, and be sure to invite everyone – even the less-popular team members.

Give them time off…if they want it

Most employees want at least some time off during the holiday season.

If your office requires someone to be around at all times, come up with a system that works for everyone.

First-come-first-served systems aren’t always fair and can become like The Hunger Games of paid time off.

Instead, find out who’d like to be out of the office during that time, then build the schedule from there. You may find that you have team members who don’t want or need the time off and can cover for those that do.

Accept not everyone wants to celebrate

For some people, the holiday season is a time of bad memories, not good ones.

Other people simply don’t want to celebrate because it’s not their thing.

Accept that, and don’t force them to take part in activities if they don’t want to. By all means invite them so that they don’t feel left out – you still want them to feel like they’re a part of the team – but don’t force them to take part in something they don’t want to take part in. Festivities should be optional, not mandatory.

Don’t overplay the Christmas songs

I went into a shop in mid-November and it was already playing Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas album on repeat. It’s still playing Christmas songs now. I feel for those poor employees, stuck listening to those songs over and over and over.

There are only so many times you can listen to Mistletoe and Wine between now and Christmas. For the sake of employees’ sanity, don’t overplay Christmas songs.

Alternate who’s in charge of the music choice instead. That way, there are different styles of music playing throughout the day and no one style of music – or one particular song – is overplayed.

Have an inclusive Christmas party

What one person sees as a fun activity another person may not. While you’ll never please everyone, get buy-in from as many people as you can on the venue, food offerings, and any activities that are planned.

Don’t forget that employees with mobility issues will find some activities difficult, while those with dietary restrictions such as coeliac aren’t going to want to eat somewhere that doesn’t understand the importance of avoiding cross-contamination.

Eradicate tedious tasks

Nobody wants to waste time on tedious tasks over the holidays. Make employees’ lives easier by embracing automation.

Meeting room bookings, interview scheduling, training session scheduling…all these tasks and more can be automated to give employees more time to wrap up their end-of-year tasks.

This helps to put everyone in a great position to start in the new year. It also means they waste less time on tedious tasks in the new year and have more time to fulfil their objectives.


Take some time to reflect on what happened in the last year. What have you learned, both as a team and individually? What would you do differently, in hindsight, and what difference could that have made?

When you’ve reflected on the past, look forward to the future, too: what’s your plan for the following year? What obstacles might you need to overcome? What do you have to get excited about?

Planning for the future helps you to avoid any obstacles that may arise.

Forward planning also gets employees excited about the new year and what’s to come. And what better way is there to engage with them than to let them know what they have to look forward to?


The holiday season can be great fun for everyone if you embrace the fact that we all celebrate in different ways.

Just because employees are at work that doesn’t mean they need to forget that Christmas is almost upon us.

So long as you find the right balance between celebrating the holiday season and getting the work done, you and your employees can enjoy the festivities while still meeting deadlines.

Avatar of Kristina Proffitt

Kristina Proffitt

Date: 7th December 2018 | Category: HR Tech