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Career Advice

Beyond Gifts: 5 Ways To Acknowledge Your Colleagues This Holiday Season

Posted by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer

Career Advice Expert

December 8, 2020

Without a doubt, 2020 has been a challenging year. Managing its many complexities demanded more than your team’s hard, professional skill set; it also required creativity, optimism, patience, resilience, and teamwork. As 2020 comes to a close, you may be wondering how to acknowledge the co-workers with whom you navigated the intricacies of work during this year of upheaval.  

Considering the financial disruptions and health concerns that many have weathered in 2020, it may not seem fitting to take up the usual collections or plan a gift exchange. Plus, with many members of your team working remotely, holiday gatherings will likely be remote this year.

So how do you keep it festive and recognize those who helped you through the wild ride that was 2020? How do you honor their talent and recognize the ways that they kept things running smoothly? Consider these five ways to show your appreciation this holiday season.

A nod to the talent.

It’s nice to know when your co-workers learn something from you. It makes you feel skilled, valued and recognized. Acknowledge your co-workers by detailing how they’ve helped you and what you’ve learned from them in 2020.

This doesn’t have to be reserved for just your manager or someone who has a higher position than yours. Thriving workplace culture is comprised of savvy, inspiring peers. At the end of the year, when you’re writing your holiday cards, take the time to acknowledge tweaks, tips, and insights that you’ve learned from your colleagues.

These can be simple things like:

"I really appreciate the way that you are so cheerful on the phone. Since we’ve been working remotely, I’ve been trying to do that, and it’s really helped my interactions."

"You always try to give co-workers the benefit of the doubt to avoid conflict. I’ve been thinking this way more, and it’s been beneficial as we’ve all been working remotely."

"Thank you for showing me that Excel trick-such a timesaver!"

People love to know how helpful they are; in our work lives, we master small things that we may think that no one sees. Recognize and celebrate those things that your coworkers do brilliantly and assure them that they are enhancing the work that you do as well.

2020 highlight reel.

Whether through pictures, video, or messages, it’s fun, festive, and moving to glimpse the year in review.  Even though your team may have been decentralized for the bulk of this year, focus on those things that tell your group’s story: great shots of team members looking fab in their PPE, best pet and family photobombs from remote meetings, coolest quarantine hairstyles of 2020. 

Showcase those wonderful moments that demonstrate how your team laughed, coped, and came through in 2020.

Toast your team (virtually, of course).

While it’s not nearly as fun to have a remote holiday party as it is to celebrate in person, getting together virtually is better than nothing! Toasting your colleagues virtually is a fun holiday feature. Unlike a roast, which can get a little terse for the workplace, a toast keeps things light and positive.

Focus on a couple of the strengths that each person brings to the team, mentioning some important ways they helped the team navigate this year's complexities. If you’re the team leader, call out a couple of important qualities each member brings to the work they do. Having those contributions mentioned in front of your peers makes everyone feels valued and recognized.

Everybody loves a top five.

Make lists of the top five things that you appreciate about each of your coworkers and read those off at your remote holiday party. If your co-worker writes especially helpful memos, let him know that you appreciate those. If your colleague manages to keep your team meetings organized and on topic-let her know that you see that work. If your co-worker always makes the team laugh, even when the COVID case count is high, and everyone is feeling a bit worried, call that out.

This year, the scented candles and gift cards seem less important than reminding each other of the connection your share. Your strengths and talents help carry each other through the tough times as well as the happy times. Those qualities make professional life better, more harmonious, and more fun.  

Reflect, communicate, and give thanks.

This is a good year to reflect; 2020 has been hard. It’s been sad and scary. It demanded much of us-personally, professionally, emotionally. Celebrate the ways that you and your team pulled together had each other’s back and made it work. Tell your co-workers how much their support enabled you to manage the challenges of 2020.

We need the holidays this year-our opportunity to recognize all that we accomplished and to honor the people who helped us get here. Embrace it with your team. You’ve earned it together. Happy holidays! 

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