It’s no secret that the economy is rough right now and budgets are tight. Monetary holiday bonuses for employees and volunteers might not be in the cards for many business owners, managers and volunteer coordinators. However, there are many other ways to make hard workers feel appreciated.
Several local employers and volunteer group leaders recently shared their favorite methods for thanking those who keep their operations afloat.
• Plan an appreciation day
Julie Martin, secretary of the Dorchester Village Civic Center Board of Directors, said her group is planning a volunteer appreciation day for those who have worked on the civic center’s renovation or donated goods and services.
“We will invite all of our volunteers, donors of money and goods, etc., to come for an open house with food, entertainment and so on. We haven’t really ironed out the details yet ... but we have been so truly blessed with volunteerism that we want to say thank you,” Martin said.
• Host a holiday meal
Drew Cole of Uncommon Grounds coffee shop in Hinesville said he likes to spend time with his employees outside of work, in a more relaxed setting.
“Our employees are like an extension of our family,” he said. “Spending a day outside of the work environment together, sitting down to a nice dinner and just enjoying each other’s company is what the holidays are about. We are fortunate to have a group of people who get along together like that.”
• Have a “secret Santa” or “Yankee swap” gift exchange
City of Hinesville spokeswoman Krystal Britton said some of the department leaders at city hall got together, bought gifts and placed them under a Christmas tree. All the employees gathered around the tree during lunch one day and chose gifts — or had their gifts stolen and replaced, which is the idea behind “Yankee swap.”
“It was a great morale booster and allowed workers to relax for a moment during the holiday season and focus less on the stress of purchasing gifts and preparing for the holidays,” Britton said.
• Let workers leave early
Liberty County Health Department Administrator Deidre Howell said she lets her staff go home early on the day before the department’s Christmas break starts.
“I stay, all by myself, until 5 p.m. and they go home to be with their families right after lunch. I’ve done this every year since I’ve been here and they seem to really appreciate it,” she said.
VIP Office Furniture and Supply operations vice president Barbara Meador said her company also provided employees with a little extra family time.
“VIP gave us a paid day on the Friday after Thanksgiving so [employees] wouldn’t have to take vacation time since we closed that day also,” she said.
• Give gift cards or small presents
Howell said that because of the state’s budget crisis, her employees haven’t had a raise in nearly four years, but she tries to slip them small tokens of her appreciation when she can.
“We never get a Christmas bonus or anything like this,” she said. “[But] I was able to finagle a way to purchase each of them a $50 Visa gift card this year for Christmas from some stimulus dollars we received.”
Meador also gave her employees and the local economy a boost with gift certificates to area retail shops.
“We gave our employees local gift certificates so it would not only help them, but the local economy also,” she said.