Finding the right words for loved ones around the holidays can be tough. It can be even tougher for executives trying to get the message right for their corporate employee holiday cards.
I see this firsthand as CEO of CardSnacks, where we hear from our customers asking for advice on what to do for their holiday cards. It’s clear how much these executives care about their employees and want to honor their contributions. The best executives know that employee recognition should be a year-round event, but the holidays are a time when that holiday cheer calls for something a little more special and you don’t want to get it wrong.
So, what makes the perfect holiday message? Here are some elements every holiday greeting to your employees should include:
One of the biggest mistakes some executives make regarding holiday messaging is that they think it’s just about the holidays. These cards, though, are not just about holidays but rather about your appreciation and recognition for your team. This isn’t just the season of giving, we should think of the season as a chance to show how grateful we are for how employees contribute to us each day.
For example, you can say something like, “With the holidays here, we wanted to reinforce how honored and privileged we are to have you on our team. We thank you for all you have done to contribute to our shared success this past year.”
Reinforce the Culture
Once you have shown individual appreciation, it is also important to reinforce the culture of your company. At minimum, it’s worth creating custom cards or ecards that reflect your brand standards, including your logo. Pivot your message off of your own mission statement or company slogans.
This is a great time to remind your colleagues that they are part of a team, and that team is united in a common vision and shared values.
Make It Personal
There is nothing worse than something that looks like a generic greeting. Since you’re spending the time to find the right words for all of your employees, also remember that this is a personal connection point between a company or executive and the rest of the team. It’s always a good idea to include a photo or some image that reflects the teamwork or the contributions the team has made. Better yet, speak directly to the team. If you create an electronic greeting card, you can include voice or video, where you’re directly expressing how you feel about the team and the company. Hearing from the CEO directly, outside of company email or Slack, is a great way to personalize a message.
Reward Good Work
A holiday card can also be an opportunity to show appreciation with a small gift as well. Sending the same gift to everyone can reinforce that everyone is part of the same team. If you are sending physical cards, you can include a company T-shirt or even a winter hat as part of the card. With ecards, you can include a gift card to everyone. Even a small amount can add to the holiday cheer. For example, you can say “Have a hot chocolate on us,” and include a $10 Starbucks gift card.
If you’re a small company you can even go one step further and customize the greeting by adding a gift card tailored to the interests of each employee. So the New York Jets fan can get an NFL Shop gift card, while the crafts guru can get a Joann’s gift card. You can also use gift cards to provide an experience – send the movie buff a Fandango gift card or the golf fanatic a TopGolf gift card. By sending the same gift card amount to everyone, but customizing the retailer, you can get the best of both worlds: you can reinforce that you are all part of the same team while also showing that you care about them as individuals too.
It’s tempting to dedicate your corporate holiday card as a look back to the prior year. After all, the holidays are a great moment in time for reflection, both individually and corporately. Yet, these cards are also an opportunity to look ahead. You can elegantly reinforce your priorities for the coming year in these cards, in a way that doesn’t ruin the moment. For instance, you could talk about new markets, new customers, or important initiatives. Don’t go overboard – this isn’t a letter to shareholders. But it would be a mistake to not use this as a way to rally your team about what’s important to the company and setting them up for the future.
At this time of year, it’s important to remember that your team is a gift to you. No matter how you recognize them, they will no doubt appreciate the sentiment. But there are a few simple considerations that can make your business holiday cards really shine and make employee loyalty and their feeling of appreciation last the whole year.
Mark Wachen is the CEO of CardSnacks. He also is the Managing Partner and Founder of Upstage Ventures, a firm that advises and invests in consumer internet and interactive marketing companies. Wachen was the founder of the Dreamit NYC accelerator program, which he ran from 2011-2013. Prior to Dreamit, Wachen was the CEO/Founder of Optimost, the company that pioneered multivariate testing and optimization on the Internet. He served as CEO for the company up until its acquisition by Interwoven in November 2007 for $52 million. Wachen also worked for seven years at Sony, overseeing a wide variety of Internet initiatives. Wachen graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College and has an MBA from Harvard Business School.