Holiday ideas that bring employees good cheer

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Thanking and recognizing employees for their loyalty and hard work is in order year-round, of course. But the opportunity to do so couldn’t be better timed than now, during this holiday season.

I remember that in the early days of my corporate career, employers gave out nice year-end bonuses and threw a "Shut down the office!" holiday bash. But I’m reminded we live in a different world today. Dealerships likely have a more diverse workforce and they may see holidays and gifts differently. So how best to bring some holiday cheer to the team?

I believe it’s good to thank employees for getting the job done as the end of the year approaches. While cash is always king, it’s not the only thing. There are other good ways to send the message that their contributions to the success of your dealership are valued and appreciated.

Here are some to think about:

1. Time off: Recognizing the importance of family time, give employees time off to spend with their loved ones. Perhaps they receive a “get-out-of-jail card(s)” they’re invited to “play” any time they choose. Or give employees a “vacation account” with a set amount of money they can eventually draw out when they’re about to take their next vacation.

2. A festive party: Not your old stale office party! Create an event, such as a casino party. Give each employee an allotted amount and let them try to grow it at the local casino. Or since local breweries and craft beers are big these days, go to a local brewer for a brewing “class” experience and party. Depending on dealership size, arranging a special employee/spouse holiday dinner in a first-class club or restaurant or inviting everyone to your home for dinner and drinks could be a special time.

3. Personalized gifts: It’s not hard to learn about each employee’s off-the-job interests, hobbies or wishes. Then a carefully and personally selected applicable gift, or an appropriate gift card, would say “thank you” long after the holiday is over. I’ve heard many dealers refer to their dealership team as “family.” To give something selected just for them, to recognize their hard work, invests in each dealership family member. Perhaps one employee wants to learn to play guitar? Give a certificate for lessons. Another likes golf. Get some driving-range credits. The ideas are as wide-ranging as the employees.

4. Health and fitness: Speaking of investing in family members, how about that most-often-made New Year’s resolution? Answer: losing a few pounds and/or getting in shape! Odds are it won’t last very long — unless there’s some help, that is. So a corporate membership at a local gym that any employee can choose to use might be really appreciated. And people in good shape are also usually better performers, so it’s a win-win idea.

5. Philanthropy: In addition to a year-end or holiday bonus, allowing each employee to designate a local charity they have a passion for and sending a donation in their name advances the gift-of-giving idea. It gives employees an additional recognition directly from you and from the charity they’ve chosen.

6. Gift cards and fun: You name it, there’s a gift card for nearly everything these days, from the movies to the currently popular Escape Rooms. A collection of low-cost gift cards that are for local fun activities or entertainment outlets can make a memorable employee recognition gift.

Bottom line: Dealership employees are a huge part of your business’s success story. So it’s understandable that you’d want to make them feel appreciated. A special and memorable gift is a great way to show your thanks for all they do. Take advantage of the gift-giving season to wow your team with some clever employee gifts.

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