Tips to Build A Strong Company Culture Through The Winter Holidays & Beyond

The winter holidays are often a time to disconnect from work, spend time with family, and appreciate the year it’s been. However, now more than ever, companies are looking for ways to build momentum and keep culture strong during a time of global disconnect. While it’s not always easy, it’s certainly possible to maintain—and even build—culture through the holiday season. It takes a thoughtful approach and an extreme focus on communication, so we’ve got some company culture examples and tips below to give you a strong start. 

While some companies may be tempted to completely disengage, it can be a risky option. With Gallup reporting nearly 70% of employees are disengaged at work, it’s more important than ever to foster culture. By engaging your team around the holidays, you are spreading some cheer and building connections with coworkers on a personal level in ways that will reverberate throughout the year. Ultimately, you’re choosing to build a more happy and loyal team.

Some Strong Company Culture Examples as a Baseline

While the holidays may be the happiest time of the year for some of your team, it can be a stressful and lonely time for others. It’s important to keep this in mind and work with your team to make sure everyone is included and feels taken care of. Here are some company culture examples to keep in mind around the holidays to make sure you maintain your baseline culture through all of the craziness. 

Build an Approach That Celebrates Diversity

This might be an obvious one, but try to avoid solely relying on phrasing that is specific to one religion or culture. We’ll dive into this more later, but there are many holidays that fall around wintertime. So, this can be an opportunity for everyone to share their culture with the rest of the team. This could mean sharing family traditions, broader community celebrations, or simply the space to acknowledge the fact that it’s an important time of year for many different reasons. Creating space by acknowledging a range of experiences can help build trust. If you want more ideas, we loved these company culture examples from Gather.

Look For Signs of Distress

The holidays can bring on extra stress for people due to finances, family relationships, weather, or simply the craziness of it all. Also, seasonal depression is a very real phenomenon that touches all parts of life, including the workplace. Be on the lookout for signs of distress or burnout and step in to help where you can. A bit of time to relax, a message to check in or a friendly conversation can go a long way especially if you reach out early.

-Take Time To Recharge

There’s no perfect science for figuring out work schedules around the holidays, but be thoughtful about your plan and communicate it well. If you’re able to give a whole week off and shut down operations for a bit—great. If you have to keep working, consider work-from-home options or canceling some calls to free up a bit more time to relax. The important thing is to make sure your team is able to refill their metaphorical cup before the grind of a new year. 

6 Fun Ways to Build Culture Through the Holiday Season

Workplaces tried to hit the ground running with the abrupt shift to remote work, but most of us are still running a bit behind in finding the full toolkit we need. If we felt that gap in culture before, we’re definitely going to feel it in the holiday season. This might be the right time to consider some new tools and ways to connect! For example, go async with a video messaging platform to give your team the choice to engage on their own time while protecting their time off. Check out our full suggestions below.

1. Celebrate In Style

A holiday party is a great way to celebrate the year that has passed as well as an opportunity to spend quality time together outside of a work setting. In the wake of a pandemic, holiday parties look a lot different. Rather than skip it when it’s needed more than ever—bring it online! There are plenty of great resources online for ideas to create a really wonderful, engaging, and festive virtual gathering.

More than anything, it’s a chance for your team to spend quality time together not talking about work. Opt for async activities if coordinating everyone’s schedules becomes too challenging or if people REALLY can’t handle another Zoom session.

2. Goal Setting Workshop

With a new year right around the corner, help your team reflect on the past year and look forward to the year that is coming. Running a reflection/goal-setting workshop is a quick, easy, and productive activity for everyone. This workshop doesn’t have to be about professional goals alone—help your team think about how they want to grow as a person and ask questions about how they envision their future.

Again, try an async option here to adapt adeptly to holiday schedules. Post a short video with instructions, prompting colleagues to post their own. By helping your team through this activity, you cultivate a goal-oriented culture and a team that’s excited about the year to come. 

3. Learn About Your Team’s Holiday Traditions 

Use this season to learn more about your team and offer opportunities for people to share how they celebrate. Whether it’s sharing some information about their culture, religion, or family traditions—you can give everyone the chance to come closer and bring more of their whole self to work. This can be an important start to building better understanding and a more religiously-inclusive workplace in the long run.

Prompts to get folks sharing about their own unique culture and heritage can happen year-round, especially since many religions’ most major holidays happen during other parts of the year, but since workplaces in the US usually have breaks that align with winter, take advantage of this time as a conversation starter.  

4. Look For Ways to Give Back

Do you want to build a culture of service and gratitude? Look for a way to live up to company values and give back around the holidays. Maybe it’s a company fundraiser, or a canned food drive, or a chance to share skills with your community. It could even build into a flexible process throughout the year. This equips your team to give back in a way that fits with their life.

Whatever it is, look for something that will make your team feel proud of your company going into winter. Pride in a company is the single biggest driver towards engagement, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Prompt teammates to share their giving activities in short videos to boost pride and inspiration exponentially.

5. Show Your Team They Are Appreciated

While everyone appreciates an end-of-year bonus or a nice gift around the holidays, it’s not possible for everyone—and that’s okay. There are plenty of other ways to show your team they are appreciated! Try handwritten messages, a sincere “thank you”, a bit of extra time off, or a light-hearted “office awards” ceremony.

Employee recognition is strongly correlated with loyalty and job satisfaction so invest in making your team feel like they matter. Once again, async short video kudos can be especially effective and inclusive of different teammates’ preferred style of recognition. (Please don’t surprise the introverts with attention at large public gatherings!)

6. Connect…but Not Just About Work

Nobody wants to feel weighed down by work (and extra Zoom meetings) around the holidays. Rather than adding to that frustration, find a way to connect about other things by going async with video messages. With so many of our workflows doubling down on async, take advantage of this shift with your company culture as well.

You get to see a friendly face but still protect your time during this hectic time of year. By using video, you are building connections that go far deeper than a written note. We suggest creating a weekly theme like “holiday traditions” or “holiday decorations” (or “holiday nightmares” if you’re feeling sassy) and encouraging your team to share videos.

 

Share Your Favorite Company Culture Examples Throughout the Holidays

While the holiday season can present challenges for some employees, it’s also a phenomenal opportunity to solidify the culture you have spent the last year building. Don’t let your culture fizzle out and rebuild it in January. Use this time to focus on employee connectivity and support. By creating a thoughtful approach and communicating all of the information early, you can build a stronger team than ever. 

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