The holidays are supposed to be a joyous period, but for working folks, they can be overwhelmingly stressful. Balancing job-related deadlines, family obligations, and school schedules (think: extended winter break) can make for a not-so-festive number of weeks.

But as an employer, you have the opportunity to change that and give your workers a reason to celebrate. Here are a few simple acts of kindness you can initiate that will not only make your employees happier this holiday season, but perhaps motivate them to remain loyal to your business in the coming year.

1. Offer flexible scheduling

The holidays can be challenging for workers with family out of town, or for those with children, so the more accommodating you're willing to be, the better. Even if you generally keep your team on a set schedule that involves employees showing up to the office, consider loosening up around the holidays. That means letting employees leave early to attend holiday events (think family parties or school programs and plays), or even giving them a little leeway to do their holiday shopping during the week (as opposed to the weekends, when retailers are jammed and hitting the mall is one extended form of torture).

Group of people wearing Santa hats and clinking glasses


Also, consider letting members of your in-office team work from home to accommodate the extended school break. Doing so could serve as a huge money-saver and stress-reducer for those who otherwise need to scramble to find child care and pay a premium for it.

2. Give out actual gifts in addition to bonuses

Let's be clear: When it comes to getting rewarded for hard work, there's nothing employees appreciate more than cold hard cash. But in addition to monetary bonuses, it pays to give out gifts your employees might actually use for themselves (as opposed to bonus cash, which many will likely feel compelled to stick in the bank or use to pay bills).

If you have an employee who loves the theater, spring for a gift card toward tickets. If there's an avid cook on your team, present that person with a nifty kitchen gadget, or a gift card to a specialty store to pick one out. These personal touches could go a long way toward making your employees feel appreciated.

Incidentally, this advice applies to part-time and remote workers, too. Chances are, they're an integral part of your team, and including them is a good way to show them that their contributions are indeed essential.

3. Make the office look festive

Some people aren't into tinsel and lights, but those who are will appreciate you taking the time to make your office look festive and inviting. It's a good way to get folks into the holiday spirit even when they're chained to their desks. And if you want to spring for some edible goodies too, even better.

Your employees plug away all year long, and they deserve to enjoy the holiday season. The more you help them do that, the more they're apt to return the favor via hard work and dedication.