smiling businesswoman on laptop planning virtual holiday employee event

Shake Up the Remote Work Blues with Fun Holiday Employee Engagement Tactics

Even if working remotely is not new to you, chances are you are over video conference calls by now. Don’t let this pandemic put a virtual “Hum Bug” in virtual office fun this holiday season. Just because there’s no holiday office party or face-to-face team get together doesn’t mean you can’t share some laughs.

Attention internal communicators: I’ve gleaned some ideas to share with your business partners across your company. Think about sending a virtual holiday guide or even a 2021 fun guide for your people leaders to offer team bonding and engagement ideas.

I must give our talented Cerkl Culture Committee honors for delivering many of these awesome virtual experiences over this past year. Most of these activities are evergreen, but I’m putting my holiday spin on them since it’s December. For giggles (well, maybe my own entertainment), I’ve listed some joyous virtual team building ideas paired with well-known lyrics to some holiday classics. 

Get the New Internal Comms Strategy, Ditch the Old-Fashioned Way

Let’s take a page out of Brenda Lee’s 1960 “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree…it’s the new old-fashioned way.” It’s fun to mix the old with the new!  Tag on 30 minutes to your next team meeting and have a “Name That Tune music contest. One of our talented team members uses a presentation deck to deliver the music trivia fun and choreographs the 5-to-7-second song samples with the reveal and a contest entry form to keep players honest.

We also conducted a fun baby contest. You could put a holiday spin on it with a “Guess the Santa Baby” game. Have each team member submit a baby photo and a current headshot to the game organizer and add some celebrity baby and adult photos to make the game more challenging. Using simple animation within the presentation, your team members place guesses and reward the winner with an electronic gift card.

Engage Employees’ on their Favorite Things

Create Slack or MS Teams channels of your favorite things. At Cerkl, we offer #PupDates, #MotivationMondays, and #HumpDayHumor, to name a few. We’ve also dedicated a staff meeting to share our favorite Cerkl memories and then shared a memory montage on our intranet

No More Wrangling Employees for the Holiday Photo

Take a win out of the Cerkl playbook. Forgo the holiday card with a montage of fun company-branded Elf fun. Add a logo to your office elves and send them to your team members. In turn, assign them days in December to share fun photos of each elf’s fun or folly. By mid-December, you have a fun montage to share internally or externally with your business partners, suppliers, and even customers.

Want to keep spreading some zany holiday joy? Our Cerkl co-founder is sending each team a fun video using Jib Jab. You can subscribe to other fun services like Elf Yourself. Before you begin, make sure you have employees’ consent to share their likeness/photos with other team members. Our company has had a blast with these fun and zany videos.

Oh Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

With some planning, you can manage a virtual holiday recipe swap or put a fun diversity and inclusion spin with Holiday Dishes Around the World. Why not make Secret Santa easy virtually by mailing nominally priced gifts via Amazon without returned addresses and a special anonymous note?

Moreover, people leaders could host a Holiday Happy Hour (after work hours) to play games and socialize. This year, our Cerkl holiday party will be a smorgasbord of fun presentations and pre-recorded videos, all with a morning show theme. Employees will share fun activities, recipes, cooking tutorials, and more. Beforehand, each employee received a special envelope to be opened during the party. The packages contain conversation starters, recognition, and materials to play the planned games.

Create Engaging Employee Reindeer Games 

The holiday season is the best time to turn the dial-up on a fun virtual competition. Why not start a Holiday Walk Challenge? Or host fun trivia contests, such as “Hollywood Game Night,” “Family Feud,” or “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” Split your team into several sub-teams and have the teams pick mascots and avatars. Utilize breakout rooms via Zoom or other video conference solutions so teams can strategize or build consensus on contest questions.

Give Your Internal Communications More Heart

Making sure leadership periodically thanks employees is a best practice, but most apropos this year with all the challenges most have faced. Thanking staff during the holidays is a must. Last December, I shared a messaging checklist to ensure as an internal communicator, you’re promoting the message of gratitude on behalf of leadership. Surprisingly, many items on my list work for a virtual environment

Take Care of Your Corporate Communications Team

As you ring in 2021, it’s important to take a retrospective on all that has been accomplished in 2020. Email your team gift cards to GrubHub or Postmates and have them order lunch for the meeting. Please give them a prompt before the meeting so they can share in a round-robin format. Prompts could include “What was the biggest work challenge you faced this year and how did you pull through?” or “In retrospect, in what areas are you stronger, wiser, or more aware based on the experiences of 2020?” Give each team member time to talk about their experiences. Establish a no-judgment zone and offers an opportunity to discuss challenges and glean insights from team members authentically.

Take time to celebrate the new year! Set goals and talk about what 2021 may look like at the company. 

I thrive off of discussing internal communicators' ideas and strategies, coffee mug in hand.