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How To Show Employee Appreciation This Holiday Season Despite COVID

By Laura Pokrzywa, HR Consultant, East Coast Risk Management

Holiday Party During COVIDThis year has been hard on employers and employees alike.  Your remote workers probably feel a bit disconnected while employees who have continued to show up at their regular worksites may be feeling insecure and overburdened. If ever there was a year to make sure your employees know they are appreciated, this is it.

Since many states and municipalities have strict limits on the number of people that can gather in one place, the traditional end-of-the-year company party is not be a viable option for most employers. So, it’s time to get creative.

In case you might need some help with that, we have gathered the following list of ideas that may help you express appreciation to your employees – from a safe distance. These are in no particular order, but #1 may be the most popular option this year! Here you go:

  1. Cash bonuses for all employees. This option is one of the easiest to administer and usually one of the most appreciated.
  2. Give employees extra paid time off. This can be an unanticipated shut down with pay around the holidays or extra time in their PTO bank for 2021.
  3. Send a gift to each employee along with a thank you note. The value of each gift is up to you. We have found lots of ideas such as electric mug warmers, plants, gift cards to local restaurants, do-it-yourself dinner boxes, food baskets, cozy throw blankets, charging stations, fitness equipment, etc.

You can combine any of those options with a virtual gathering if you choose. This can be a casual get-together or a more structured event.  Here are some ideas we found for jazzing up your virtual party:

  1. Before the scheduled event, send each employee a gift basket of items to be enjoyed during the party. This could be a selection of fun snacks and soft drinks or a wine glass/beer mug with an appropriate bottle from a local vineyard or brewery.
  2. Plan a virtual cocktail party by sending appropriate gift cards along with recipes for cocktails and mocktails that can be enjoyed during the party.
  3. Host a virtual ugly sweater contest.
  4. Plan for a group game such as BINGO, a trivia contest, or charades.
  5. Hire a professional to host your virtual party. This might be a professionally organized group game, a cooking lesson with a professional, or some other planned group activity or special guest.

If you decide to gather your employees for a virtual party, consider the timing of that gathering. Many of your employees are sharing their internet connections with homeschooled kids and family members who are also teleworking. Depending on your workforce, an after-hours call may be easier. Then again, planning the call during work hours would give your employees an extra break from work duties while preserving their after-hours time.

If your organization simply does not have the budget to implement any of these ideas, consider sending a simple note of appreciation to each employee. For even greater impact, make that a handwritten note sent via regular mail, if possible.

Whatever you do, we encourage you to do something special this year. Your employees will appreciate ending this crazy year on a positive note.


If you are an employer with questions about anything relating to human resources, safety, or workers’ compensation, contact East Coast Risk Management by calling 724-864-8745 or emailing us at

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