To engage employees, keep your year-end messaging authentic, positive and honest. Most importantly, make sure it’s not about you.
Year-end messaging is an opportunity to reach every employee, boost morale and give a peek into what’s in store for the upcoming year. Whether you’re the communicator ghostwriting the message or the leader putting pen to paper, use these top tips to make sure your message leaves employees feeling included, recognized and ready to take on new challenges.
1. Mind your tone
Whether you’re behind the scenes ghostwriting for a leader or writing your own remarks, consider the tone of the message before you begin. Start by asking yourself how you want to make employees feel, and how that fits in with your company culture. If you’re not sure, making employees feel appreciated, uplifted and connected with the organization are good targets to start with.
Your year-end message is an opportunity to share good news with employees — make sure your genuine appreciation comes across in your delivery, whether it’s in a recorded video, live town hall or digital greeting.
At the same time, it’s worth acknowledging any tough moments throughout the year — glossing over hardship will detract from your authenticity. Whether it’s a local or world event that impacted the company or something internal, employees will recognize the courage it takes to address the issue, offer support and, if appropriate, tidily move forward from it.
2. Inclusion: A festivus for the rest of us
Unless addressing your own holiday plans, avoid mention of any singular holiday or religious tradition. While a Thanksgiving message of gratitude might land well with U.S.-based employees, the same message won’t resonate with a global audience that doesn’t share in the tradition. Help employees feel included by making the greeting one of good cheer and merriment in anticipation of the holiday season and upcoming new year.
3. Shout-out loud!
Particularly in large, global organizations, employees might feel particularly disconnected from those in the highest ranks of the company. Seek team and individual examples of exceptional work, demonstrations of core values and marquee wins, and include them in your message. While you won’t have time or space to call out every example, the teams and individuals who executed the work will get a boost from the shout-out, and others will appreciate that leadership made note of the good work and took the time to recognize it widely.
Your message should be a celebration and reflection of those who made the big wins happen — it’s worth underscoring that no contribution is too small to matter.
4. Give a sneak preview
An engaged employee is in tune with the company’s goals, and your year-end message is a chance to offer transparency and a glimpse of what’s ahead. That could mean performance, financial or customer-centric goals, but don’t limit it to the bottom line. Consider what you will do to make the organization more employee-friendly, meet the needs of existing customers and contribute to the communities in which employees live and work.
5. Model citizen
Employees will be eager to hear from you, and it’s a good idea to let them get to know the person behind the title. To whatever extent you’re comfortable, share how you plan to celebrate this season, the wins you’re most proud of and just how thankful you are for everyone’s contributions. And, since you’ve likely communicated this year about desired behaviors and demonstrations of core values, you might also model that to employees, whether it’s through a recommitment to self-care, volunteerism or personal or professional development.
While a year-end message might seem like a throw-away, remember: this is an opportunity to reconnect and engage employees, reinforce your leadership and personal work style, and prepare for the year ahead.
If you need help, Pivot Strategies’ team of communications consultants are always finding ways to engage employees with authenticity and heart. Visit Who We Are to meet the team and learn more about how we create clarity.
About the Author
Lydia Hemmer, Communications Consultant
Lydia partners with cross-functional teams and business leaders to understand complex business issues, distill them into digestible content, and develop a communication plan that engages its intended audience. As a communications consultant, she works to “connect the dots” between strategies and their desired outcomes using an empathy-first approach. Her experience includes merger communications, employee engagement initiatives, executive communications and strategic internal communications. Before joining Pivot Strategies, Lydia managed communications at several of Minnesota’s largest law firms.