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Employee Engagement over the Festive Period

Coinciding with the end of the year, Christmastime can be a time of heavy workloads, looming deadlines, shrinking budgets and personal and social responsibilities, all of which can accumulate to make it a time of stress and distractions for employees. Here we look at ways that companies can go about effectively engaging their employees throughout one of the busiest, and in comms terms nosiest, times of the year.

At a time when creativity is at a seasonal high, with brands getting more creatively entertaining with their communications to compete with the cacophony of Christmas messaging, to get employees attention you need to get creative, think differently and play into the spirit of the festive period.

It's the one time of year you can go all out and have fun with your internal campaigns without anyone questioning why! It can be a great time to take a risk and embrace innovative tech. The gamification of your comms can be a fun way to give team members a break from their routines and reboot energy levels (Reindeer Racer - The fun, festive AR game lets you design your own reindeer and train him up ready for daily reindeer races. It is available on Apple and Google devices, along with the downloadable AR marker).

Relevant Messaging

One of the keys to effective internal comms over the Christmas season is that people feel listened to not spammed. This can be as simple as avoiding the generic festive comms that can feel tired and recycled or like spam at the end of the fiscal year, and personalising the Christmas message to engage employees in a more meaningful way.

IC is not one size fits all. Personalise it to your brand and make sure that you are engaging with your audience, listening to their needs and their feedback and reacting to it appropriately and authentically. Get management involved in delivering messages to smaller groups, and work to plan more intimate, team led social events. This can be a great time to spark new, relevant conversations ahead of a new year.

It can be tempting to follow the flock at Christmas, but it's important to stay true to your brand even as you push creative boundaries. Comms should align with your company tone and objectives whether it's Christmas or not.

Reviewing the Year

As Christmas signals the end of the year, it's a great time to get people talking, reflecting about the year gone and looking to the challenges ahead.

While classic Christmas messages can be used to achieve this, at DRPG we use this time to review the year as a team. Engagement is a two way street and we find it a great time to get input and feedback from the whole company, giving everyone the chance to have their say. For this reason our 'Christmas Party' is more than just a festive do, it is an interactive experience where everyone is involved in the conversations about successes, improvements and predictions for next year. This way we avoid letting the individual get lost in the crowd and give everyone a voice.

The Power of Recognition

Looking back at the year mustn't focus solely on the business, it's time to recognise your people and celebrate personal successes.

As well as using it as a chance to look back and forward, we also make the most of this whole group gathering to celebrate our people individually. We hold an internal awards ceremony at our Christmas Conference including our bloopers #DripAwards. Awards be a great way to show team members you value their hard work throughout the year. They can also instil a little healthy competition which can spur people on to great heights and set the standard for all others to rise to the following year, so they are an important tool for motivating best behaviours.

One of the best ways to make these awards meaningful and not just a pat on the back for the golden few, is to get team members involved in the nominations. This is a chance for the team to celebrate each other's successes at all levels. They don't have to be a lavish end of year staff ceremony. They can be an informal, department-only initiative, as long as there are a range of good categories and you are being creative, innovative and meaningful, you'll reap the rewards in recruiting and retaining staff.

The Christmas Party

A collective hair letting down exercise is a great way to bond and socialise outside the working environment and if executed correctly should be a safe space for staff to relax and have a bit of fun. You need to think creativity about how you can turn the event from a party and into an experience. If you get this right, they'll thank you for it and be back next year for more of the same!

Another aspect to consider when thinking about the Christmas party is context. Don't go overboard, spending lavishly or posting all over social, especially if you've had a tough year financially. This can really set the wrong tone for a celebration.

It is important to consider all sections of your workforce and bear in mind what might be entertaining for one team is not appealing to another. Make sure you are engaging all your staff with an experience that everyone can take part in and enjoy.

Festive Fun

Christmas is a great time of year to have a little fun with your comms. It's when everyone's inner child makes an appearance, demanding to be entertained and engaged as often as possible. Keeping comms light-hearted and humorous can help you get key messages across in a fun, digestible way that stands out.

As with any initiative where humour is the driver, there's a degree of risk attached. You need to know your audience and the broader context, so you're not caught laughing to yourself. As with all comms, getting buy-in is crucial so run it by senior teams and show that you've mitigated risk and planned for anything that may occur.

While Christmas can be a stressful time, it is also provides a great opportunity to engage with your team on a less formal, more personal note and a little fun and humour can be exactly what is needed to help end the year on a positive note and encourage a strong start to the new year.

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