The entire scope of employer-employee relations has been severely stressed coping with all that COVID-19 has brought to us. Many employers are questioning how they can reward employees during the holidays which are quickly approaching and large company parties & gatherings are a pandemic no-no. 

Nevertheless, it’s important that the holiday season bring good feelings to employees and an expectation of a reward for working towards achieving corporate goals and closing off the end of the year on a good note. This is especially true now while working diligently during these tumultuous times.

Traditionally hosting a lavish end of year event would provide employees a feeling that the employer values their work while also allowing social contact between employees who may not get to interact on a frequent basis on items other than work. These gatherings also helped to generate a cohesive team building experience where employees could socialize and not just focus on day-to-day workplace tasks. This year with social distancing, mask mandates, and attendance limits on inside events, holiday parties cannot be the same as in the past.

Previously, holiday parties for many companies have included sizable gatherings where a large budget provided food, beverages, entertainment, and often a gift, bonus, or both.  Gathering sizes are limited at this time due to the virus (and in some states not allowed at all), but employee appreciation efforts cannot be ignored especially given the constraints many workers have had to endure.

Even though this year the social aspect won’t be present, most employees will understand and appreciate management’s acknowledgment of a job well done if handled with care and kindness.

Companies now have to be innovative when it comes to acknowledging and celebrating the hard work of their teams, and many items that worked pre-covid no longer apply.

Corporate Holiday Celebration Suggestions for 2020 


In lieu of having a large holiday party/gathering host a Zoom Party instead! Not just a regular zoom video meeting which can be misconstrued as more work, but carefully thought out games can be played, meals planned and delivered in advance, a virtual gift exchange, or an online wine and painting party can lighten up the mood and allow for some real fun. These types of gatherings offer the safety of home-based entertainment while still providing social interaction among employees. 

Pro tip: Normally in-person gatherings are around 4 hours long, but for virtual gatherings that is way too long! Try and keep virtual events between 1 – 2 hours to prevent burnout, boredom, and too much idle time. Create a timeline to ensure a smooth flow during the virtual event.

Company Gifts for the Holidays


Provide a well thought out corporate gift! These gifts can include items/services employees can use more than once. Since many employees are still working from home, it can be a good idea to gift items they can use to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Also, gifts that focus on wellness and mental health are much more popular this year than ever before!

Gift Ideas include:

  • Cozy items like custom blankets, pillows, mugs, robes, and even plants!
  • Virtual classes included fitness, wellness, yoga, dance, cooking, meditation, etc.
  • A paid subscription to media entertainment such as Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, etc.
  • Gift certificate for a future experience to a spa day or local restaurant.
  • A few days of extra vacation days away from the job, especially around the holidays would be an excellent show of appreciation.
  • When in doubt bonus checks and gift cards are usually very appreciated by employees.

Another Pro Tip: When you can always shop & support local! 

Final Note: These times of working while juggling Zoom meetings, homeschooling children, and all the additional unexpected tasks like more cooking and cleaning are taking a toll on just about everyone.

What we all need now is TIME; time to take a deep breath, collect our thoughts and relax. 

Need more ideas or Human Resource support? A qualified and knowledgeable HR Consultant like Tammy Klein can help you decide on an appropriate means of rewarding employees while staying within HR guidelines.


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