Holiday Gift Ideas Employee Loyalty


And six ideas to increase employee loyalty during the holidays

As a people manager, the holidays can be a time of stress. You are trying to finish the year strong while juggling time off and family commitments. That’s tough already, plus you also have to find time to plan gifts and/or events to show your staff you appreciate their hard work this year.

If you are searching for gift ideas online, you might find some guides that are trying to be helpful, but are actually minefields of bad ideas. Take this one, for example. Their number one recommendation is a gift card. That is perhaps the worst and most impersonal holiday gift idea.

Many managers take the easy path and buy a bunch of gift cards to Starbucks, Target, or Amazon. Some may take a little more effort and buy gift cards to a local restaurant or shop.

While those are all nice, they don’t really show that you know or appreciate your team members as individuals. Imagine how it would feel to get a coffee gift card if you don’t drink coffee. Or a Home Depot gift card and you can barely change a lightbulb. Worse still, getting a gift card to a store that doesn’t have any locations nearby. If the team is virtual, the store might not even operate in their state.

The simple fact is that a gift card might work for a few of your employees, but it will never be right for everyone on your team. This opportunity to show gratitude and cement employee loyalty just turned into a signal to members of your team that you don’t really know them that well. They might spend the holiday break updating their resume.

A better way to show you care is to give a gift that is memorable, useful, and can show that you know your team well. Something they will appreciate and remember long after the holiday break is over. Something that will make their lives better or help them at work. Something unique to them, not just a one-size-fits-all gift.

This holiday season, step your game up and show your staff some true holiday appreciation. Here are a few tips and ideas to make this a holiday season one that increases employee loyalty rather than erodes it.


1) Try a virtual scavenger hunt.

With virtual teams becoming the new norm, it is time to rethink the holiday party. One great way to show your appreciation is to have a virtual scavenger hunt. Make a list of fun items that everyone can scramble to try and find. Here are a few examples: a penny from the 1990’s, a roll of wrapping paper, something pink, something from your local sports team. The winners can be determined by who collects the most items before time runs out.

2) Have a trivia contest.

These can be great for virtual or in-person teams. You can incorporate questions about the holidays, pop culture, sports, or even the CEO. Reward the winners, but make sure everyone gets something even if they don’t answer a single question correctly.

3) Have a white elephant gift exchange.

A white elephant gift exchange is always a hit. Give everyone on the team $20 on their Whistle card and have them buy the strangest, funniest gift they can find. You can do this virtually by having employees submit their wrapped gifts ahead of time. Go around the room and have everyone open their gift. Give out prizes for first, second, and third place. Maybe some lightsaber chopsticks, a book of dad jokes, or anything with Nic Cage’s face on it

4) Just give people cash.

If the above ideas won’t work for every team, don’t worry. You can always give everyone a little extra cash on their Whistle card. This way, everyone can buy what they want and you don’t have to worry about getting it wrong. Let’s face it, everyone wants cash instead of another gift card anyway.

While giving cash may feel impersonal, it can be done in a personal way. Write each employee a note and tell them why you appreciate them. Be as specific as possible. Remind them of a great project they completed this year or tell them about something you are excited to collaborate with them on next year.

5) Give the gift of time off.

This is one of the best ways to show you care. Let your team know that you appreciate all their hard work this year by giving them an extra day (or two) off. If you can’t swing an extra day, give them a half day. Time is the one commodity that we can never get more of, so this is always a cherished gift.

6) Give them a new skill.

Everyone wants to get better at something. Maybe it’s related to their day job, but even better if it is not. Maybe you employee wants to learn to code, learn how to speak French, learn how to be a podcaster, or learn the piano. Give them a subscription to Masterclass, Duolingo, or Codecademy. Even better, give them paid time to use those subscriptions. Insecure employers might worry that training their employees will lead them to leave the company. The best employers know that the only thing more dangerous than a good employee leaving is a bad employee staying. Encourage your employees to upskill and promote from within.


The holidays are a great time to show your staff how much you appreciate them. But don’t just go through the motions. Take the time to show your team that you know them as individuals and that you are grateful for all they do. Use this employee loyalty holiday guide, but also personalize it to your business and your staff. By taking a little extra effort, you can show your employees how much you value them and increase employee loyalty at the same time.

“The most important thing for a company to focus on is making sure that their employees are happy and engaged.” -Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group

Holiday gift for loyal employee


There are many factors that influence employee loyalty but Whistle is the first employee loyalty app specifically designed for that purpose. By leveraging Whistle and integrating with other programs, Whistle can help companies improve both their top and bottom line.

In a recent case study, Whistle helped a manufacturing company reduce turnover by 26% in just 90 days through a redesigned onboarding program. Whistle’s employee loyalty app brought the company’s on-boarding process into the digital age and put it in every employee’s pocket. Employees raved about the mobile-first experience and cash reward system. 

Companies are using Whistle to help people-managers improve relationships with their direct reports, rethinking incentives and rewards, and even changing their approach to culture – building a more inclusive workplace and helping to attract quality candidates.

Contact us for a free demo and better understand how much you can improve employee loyalty when using an employee loyalty app!

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