Appreciate your employeesYour employees invest a lot of time and mental power (let’s hope) into making your company successful, so it’s always a good idea to let them know you’ve noticed.  Of course there are things you can do throughout the year to show your appreciation, but there’s no time like the holidays to let your employees know just how grateful you are for their honest day’s work…or months, years, decades…you get the idea.  Even when you’re closing out the year on a tight budget, there are inexpensive ways to give thanks.

Here are some ways to avoid looking like the Grinch who stole [enter whichever holiday gathering you were planning to cut this year]:

Trick or treat

Although it may seem a bit juvenile, costume days are a great way to enlighten everyone’s mood.  Designate a day around Halloween for your employees to get dressed up.  If you include a prize for best costume, you’ll be sure to get some participants. The prize can be cash, gift cards, or something simple like a candy goody bag.  Note: make sure you set some ground rules so that everyone dresses work-appropriate.  Top it off by putting a big bowl of candy in your office.

Give thanks

November is a great time for a Thanksgiving luncheon.  If you don’t have it in the budget to fund a luncheon for all of your employees, turn it into a potluck luncheon.  You provide the meat (can be as simple as sliced turkey cold-cuts, or there may be a local restaurant that has affordable options for turkey and stuffing) and ask anyone interested to bring a side dish to share.  Make sure you post sign-up sheets to avoid 25 sides of mashed potatoes.   Remember – everybody gets a little sleepy after a big turkey dinner, so make sure you have coffee available.  Or give everyone the afternoon off and watch your productivity go up the next day.

Company bonding charity

With the recent economic conditions, there are a higher number of people who will sadly not be able to put food on their tables.  Giving to those in need is a great way for your company to bond and feel like they’re making a difference in someone’s lives.  There are so many charities you can participate in as a company, and in doing so, you’ll have a chance to work together and give back to the community.  Look into local food, coat and toy donation charities for starters.  Many places will also accept money or volunteer hours.

Hold a holiday party

It may seem logical to eliminate the holiday party in an attempt to make ends meet, but there are plenty of ways to chop costs for your company’s holiday celebration without cutting the fun.  The party doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it is important to end the year on a positive note with your employees.

Venues, food and guest lists play heavily into the holiday party expenses, so play with your options in those areas for starters.  If you can’t afford to rent a ballroom and caterer, or a room at a restaurant, you can instead  have a holiday-themed dessert party on-site.  Not in the budget to invite spouses and children this year?  Consider having a gathering during working hours convenient for the majority (perhaps close an hour or two early to ensure attendance). Decorate for your on-site parties, or hold a “department decorating competition” earlier in the week to add to the spirit.  If you usually give token gifts to everyone, perhaps you can instead have a raffle and only give a few gifts.

There are plenty of ways to save money while still being festive; and showing employee appreciation will add to your company morale.  Your employees know that funds are tight, but they’ll also see that you did the best you could given the circumstances – and that’ll make an impact.

Nothing boosts morale like free sales leads!