The end of the year is a powerful time to thank your people for their hard work and dedication. And having a little fun will go a long way to setting your business up for success in the New Year.

And while recognising and rewarding your staff is serious business – with significant benefits – that doesn’t mean you can’t have a laugh along the way.

Here we’ve compiled 12 ideas to help you say thanks in meaningful, yet simple and effective, ways at the end of the year.

On the 1st day… Handwritten cards

It may seem old fashioned, but the simple act of a thoughtful handwritten card or note to your employees is an age-old gesture that never goes out of fashion. And we’re not talking about a printed message with a signature hurriedly scrawled at the bottom – it needs to be the real deal. Yes, that can be hard when your business reaches a certain size – so call in your leadership team and have everyone contribute. And it’s a really fun way to spend an afternoon.

On the 2nd day… Random acts of kindness

Encourage your people to do something random and kind for a colleague. It might be as simple as buying them their daily coffee with a message on the lid. You could even take it one step further and make it an anonymous undertaking and dial up the sleuth factor.

On the 3rd day… Feed the masses

This is a surefire way to please your people. Host a pizza afternoon, desk drop lunches if people are flat out finishing tasks at the end of the year, or arrange a bake-off competition with prizes. One thing is for sure, free food is always a hit in the office!

On the 4th day… Decorate for the season

Pop up some tinsel, get a tree and decorate the office to bring the festivities to life. Little touches go a long way to creating an environment people want to be in. This is also a great time to be really inclusive by asking your people to bring in something that represents the Christmas culture or tradition for them.

On the 5th day… Family and friends

Host a day of activities for employees and their families. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top – a bbq or picnic in the park will do the trick. It’s about making connections, breaking down the barriers between work and life, and showing you care about your people as more than just employees.

On the 6th day… Free coffees

If your office is anything like ours, people love a coffee break. And if the brew is free-flowing then even better. This is also a chance to support other small businesses in your community or area. Simply arrange for the local cafe to keep a tab, or tick people off the list if you want to control the spend a little more closely, and settle the bill at the close of business. 

On the 7th day… Desk drops

Surprise and delight is a great way to recognise people and inject a little fun into the office – especially at Christmas. Find out their favourite treat, or have a bit of fun with some Christmas crackers or lolly jars for teams. It doesn’t have to cost much, but the turning up at the start of the day to find a little something special on your desk is a great way to build morale.

On the 8th day… Say thanks to your peers

At a recent BRG offsite we ran an activity where we wrote little thank you cards to the people who had made a positive impact on our experience at work, and why. We then took the exercise a step further and presented that note to the person – explaining how they’d made an impact. The energy in the room was incredible and everyone walked away feeling uplifted and appreciated.

On the 9th day… An early knock off

Time is one thing we all want more of, so why not give your people the gift of time to spend with their loved ones. The fact that Christmas falls during summer in Australia is even more reason to treat them to an early mark so they can enjoy the beautiful weather and feel both valued and recharged.

On the 10th day… Values awards

Every company has values – and if you don’t, that’s a whole other conversation! At the end of the year, you can run awards where people are nominated for living those values throughout the year. Public recognition of their contribution will really show their efforts are valued. And we know that what gets recognised gets repeated. 

On the 11th day… Party

Throw a party to celebrate another year. It’s an opportunity to spend time with colleagues, encourage them to let their hair down and enjoy an evening of food, dancing and fun. Getting together outside of work hours is great for building relationships – just make sure you provide your people with ways to get to and from the venue safely.

On the 12th day… Team experience

The team that plays together, stays together. The best way to build high-performing teams is through shared experiences, such as a team activity or an all-company offsite. Make it memorable, fun and available to everyone and you’ll soon see the bonds that are created and the benefit of using experiences as part of your employee reward and recognition efforts.