Show Some Sparkle In Your Year End Wrap Up

Kimberly Abel

After a year of hard work and initiative by your staff, it’s time to say thanks. Meaningful year-end thanks is the best way to show appreciation for what has been accomplished over the past 12 months and to give everyone incentive and enthusiasm for setting goals in the New Year. And while executives, managers, and department heads have good intentions, it’s not always easy to know how to effectively show gratefulness across a large or dispersed workforce. In preparing to wrap up 2013 with a round of applause that will still be heard and felt as we begin 2014, consider using some holiday GLIMMER in delivering heartfelt thanks to the people you work with:

G - Globally thank people for their contributions to the organization’s achievements over the past year. Whether via conference call, Skype or social media, take the opportunity to highlight the wins and teams who made it possible. For multi-national companies or geographically diverse organizations, thanking the entire team communicates the message "one company – one team."

L - Locally thank the teams and people in your region, business unit or work group through in-person gatherings. Highlight the specific projects that contributed to the overall company achievements.

I- Individually thank the contributors through one-on-one meetings. The end of the year is a perfect opportunity to provide informal, all-important feedback. Authentic expressions of gratitude go a long way toward building strong relationships

M - Map out accomplishments. During the year-end recap, whether in a company-wide letter or event speech or toast, use the power of storytelling and journey-mapping to ignite emotions and connect with people, showcasing their role in corporate performance. If appropriate, call attention to the heroes.

M - Messages of appreciation. The science of human behavior tells us that people are both rational and emotional. The emotional side of our brain is wired to respond to appreciation. The emotional side of our brain is what connects us to people, teams and organizations. It’s important to show these sincere, personal appreciation, and the end of the year is the perfect time of year to do that.

E - Expressions of authentic gratitude. Be open, transparent and real with communications. Whether through hand-written notes, handshake walk-arounds or social media, when you say thanks to the leaders, managers, teams and individuals that made a difference, you are also demonstrating what the company values.

R - Recognize and reward outstanding outcomes. Budgets for year-end gift giving probably depend on how many employees you have. The company turkey or ham is a traditional that has almost entirely fallen by the wayside. More typical gifts today include gift cards, time off, cash, or special symbolic gifts. Don’t forget the tax benefits of gift giving. You can currently take a deduction up to $25 per person in the United States. See IRS publication 463 for more details.

If you start with a GLIMMER, it can quickly evolve to a spark of engagement and inspiration for the New Year. Whether it’s with a small gift or personal thank you, make your employees feel valued by creating a bonding experience that enhances a sense of belonging to the team and the company.

Kimberly Abel is the Vice President, Employee Solutions for Maritz Motivation Solutions. She is responsible for developing and communicating the company’s thought leadership and point of view on workforce performance and employee recognition solutions. Abel has over 20 years of experience in performance solutions consulting and workforce recognition product management and marketing. Her clients have repeatedly won national awards for their solutions including strategy, communications, training, certification programs, events and measurement methodologies. She can be reached at