12 ways to give back this festive season

It's almost the first week of December, which I think means that the festive season is [pretty much here. In amongst the end of year sales, strategising for 2018 & loving (or loathing) Christmas carols now is the perfect time to think about giving back. Today I'm sharing 12 different ways to give back this festive season; to your community, your customers and your employees.

To the community

  • Donate to a local food drive or bank: There are so many that run over the festive season to ensure everyone has delicious food during the holidays.

  • Volunteer: There are so many different places that need help during the holidays; visiting the elderly, wrapping presents for children in need or helping out with food preparation for the homeless.

  • Clean up your local park: If you’re in Australia, the festive season falls in summer. This means a lot of holiday parties happening outdoors. So why not head out with some plastic bags (and gloves!) and tidy up a local park ready for the joyful hoards of revelers.

  • Bring treats to emergency workers: The holidays are the busiest time for people in the emergency services. For most of us, the festive season is a joyful time to spend with family and friends. Many people, however, are alone or don’t have good family relationships, and sadly that can lead to tragedy. Lucky for all of us we have our police, firefighters, paramedics and hospital staff ready to help people over the holidays. Taking them treats (sweet or savoury), flowers or even just paying for their coffee can go a long way to showing our appreciation.

To your customers

One thing I don’t recommend doing as a way to give back to your customers is offering discount codes. The holiday season is filled with enough consumerism - it’s not especially giving to encourage more spending during the holidays. Instead - try these suggestions:

  • Say thank you: It’s the perfect time to send a thank you to your clients or customers for the year. The important thing is to make it personal. It doesn't matter if it's an email or a card, don't send one generic thank you out to everyone. It might take a little longer to write something for everyone, but it will be worthwhile.

  • Donate on their behalf: Oxfam offers an incredible service where you can purchase a cow, or clean water, or a school kit. You get a card which you can then give to the person you donated on behalf of. Imagine sending one of those cards with every purchase made in December?

  • Have a meetup or event: If you mostly work with local clients, it’s a great way to bring your clients together and celebrate the year. I would suggest organising some activities or games if none of your clients has met before to avoid awkward silences.

  • Offer a free service: Whether it’s gift wrapping or cheap express shipping, find a way to make the customer experience just that little bit easier during the festive season.

To your employees

I’ve tried to come up with suggestions that work regardless of whether you have a team working with you or it’s just you hustling every day.

  • Treat them to a day out: Not just a Christmas party (though you can also do that) but an actual adventure. Go for a hike and a picnic, or a spa day, or to a museum exhibition. Do something fun and interesting

  • Reward them for a year well done: Have a day where you give out awards for the year that are appropriate for your business. Preferably try and give one award to each employee, and make sure it includes some little prize like a gift voucher. Also, make sure to spend some time talking about the wins in general for the year. There is always plenty of time to review what didn't work during the year, so make sure to spend at least one day celebrating what did work.

  • Consider introducing flexible hours: The holidays are busy for everyone, and having a policy where everyone gets 5-10 hours of “free” time in December could help them get all their errands complete.

  • Turn off: If you’re closing down during the festive season, you need to take it seriously. No sneaky emailing, no “I’ll just send one message in Asana”. If you are taking time off - make sure it is real time off for you and your employees. Allow your employees the freedom to spend time with their family and friends without wondering if they’re going to have to nip out to handle an email.