Each year, companies large and small are faced with the dilemma of how to celebrate the holidays with their employees and their customers.

Benjamin says gift cards and gas cards are usually a hit with her staff. (Pat Wellenbach/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Bhile companies tend to focus strictly on the bottom line when it comes to these types of decisions, they should also consider how it will affect their workforce and their customers.

At Benjamin Enterprises, we understand the importance of employee and customer recognition and how that recognition, or the lack thereof, can impact overall morale. It could also have a financial impact on the employees if they were counting on that holiday bonus or gift to help them make ends meet. As a result, we are maintaining our previous levels of recognition for both our employees and our customers for the 2012 holiday season.

We currently recognize our customers and employees during Thanksgiving with gift baskets and Christmas with hand-written personalized cards. It’s delightful to go to a customer’s place of business and see our card posted in a prominent location. Each year, we have found this inexpensive token of appreciation to be a great way to say thank you and gain positive space in our customers’ mind.  

Another welcomed incentive includes our annual giving of gas cards for employees and our all-day customer and employee open house. At our open house, a five-minute presentation informs our customers and employees of the new products or services which will be available for the New Year.  Throughout the year, our customer evaluations allow for nominations of exceptional workers in the delivery of service.  Our open house is the time to recognize our top employees for a job well done by giving awards and monetary incentives.  We have learned that it is important during this time to acknowledge the successes that we have achieved as a team and to continue those successes into the New Year.

If you are still contemplating what to do for your workforce, ask them for ideas. Not only will that ensure that you are addressing their needs and wants, but will also make them feel included in the overall process. Here are a few cost effective ideas that have worked well at our office in letting employees feel appreciated:

Handwritten card: Personally handwriting a card to each employee thanking them for their contributions can go a long way to making them feel good about their efforts and the company.  This could be either a holiday card or a thank you card.  

 ●Allow holiday music: Let your employees play a variety of holiday tunes during the day. Of course, you may need to do this in moderation, both from a quantity and a volume standpoint. This can help put your employees into a festive and easygoing mood which will permeate throughout the team and to your customers.

 Gift card: Depending on your location and employees, this could range from a gas card to a card to the local coffee or sandwich shop. These don’t have to be large amounts to make an impact on your team.

 ●Team outing: Take the team to a movie or lunch and then close the office for the rest of the day. Not only will this give you time to strengthen your bonds as a team, it gives your employees additional time off at no cost to them. Let’s face it, who couldn’t use a few more free hours to get all of that shopping, baking and decorating completed?

Before you make the decision on what you will do for the holiday season, think about how that decision will impact your employees, customers and your company overall. By making the right choice, you can ensure that you are ending this year and beginning the New Year on a positive note.

Michelle Benjamin is founder and chief executive of Benjamin Enterprises, a New York-based firm that manages facilities and maintenance for companies.

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