Campaign Planning: 10 Annual Holidays & Observances
Last updated on March 8, 2023 at 09:30 pm
Planning your internal communication strategy in advance is ideal, but it can be hard to plan ahead. IC pros can often feel like we’re always playing catch up and being reactive with our comms campaign planning. This also means that many of the culture-building and values campaigns get missed. And the opportunity cost of not acknowledging things like Employee Appreciation Day adds up over time.
Comms Campaign Planning
If you take only one thing away from this blog, please let it be this: don’t communicate observances like Black History Month or Pride if you can’t back it up with how you actually run your business.
What do we mean by that?
It is performative to celebrate an observance to check a box. If you want to genuinely celebrate diversity at your company, you have to back that up with actual DEI initiatives.
Essentially, put your money where your mouth is.
To help you, this blog will review 10 annual holidays and observances and how you can create campaigns around them that are meaningful and not performative.
Black History Month Campaign
- Employee Resource Group: Employee resource groups are employee-led groups that are completely voluntary to join. The point of ERGs is to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. If you don’t already have an employee resource group (ERG) for Black employees, this is a great time to start.
- Commit to Real Change: Make real changes to support your Black employees, hire more diverse candidates, and create a culture of inclusion and belonging.
- Bring in Speakers or a Workshop Facilitator: Education and empowerment are great ways to observe Black History Month. There is no shortage of authors and activists that you can find to speak at your company. You may also consider an unconscious bias workshop.
- Start a Better Allies Bookclub: White people who want to be allies need to educate themselves. As communicators, you can help make those resources available to your employees. Here is a great list of books to start with.
Women’s History Month Campaign
- Women Employee Spotlights: Share spotlights of women at your company. This is an opportunity to inspire other women at your organization and lift up the voices of others. These can be written interviews, Q&As, first-person blogs, or third-person news articles. You can also adapt their interview/story as a video or podcast episode.
- Employee Resource Group: We’ll mention ERGs A LOT. Many of our clients have had tremendous success when they’ve supported the creation of ERGs. So, we highly recommend this as a tactic. These are typically in-person, but with more employees working remotely and with frontline workers being so dispersed, you may want to consider virtual or regional chapters of your ERGs.
- Pro Tip: ERGs work when they are safe spaces. Find a champion at your company to spearhead who is trusted and respected by their colleagues.
Employee Appreciation Day Campaign
- Anonymous Peer Appreciation: Peer appreciation is a great way to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. Here’s one way to run this campaign. Over the course of a week, have employees write anonymous notes of gratitude for their coworkers and drop them in a box. On Employee Appreciation Day, those notes can either be handed out or read aloud.
- Pro Tip: There’s no reason to limit this to one day. You can use Employee Appreciation Day to kick off a year-long campaign where positive peer feedback is shared in shift meetings.
- Manager-Led Appreciation: Managers should show appreciation all year long. But if they aren’t, this is a chance to start. We recommend sending talking points and ideas to your managers, keeping in mind that not all managers are great communicators.
- Values Awards: Recognition is best when it ties to the big picture. What better way to do that than to start a values campaign? Annually (we’ve had luck doing this quarterly), accept nominations for employees to win an award based on living a company value. These awards can be words of appreciation from the executive team or a raise or prize. Winners can be announced via a video message in your app and/or during a Town Hall.
- Pro Tip: Scale the number of awards based on the size of your company. If you have 50,000 employees, but only 5 values, consider awarding more than one person per value.
- Employee Gifts: Gifts are a nice way to show employees you care. Maybe it’s a new piece of company swag. Or a gift card with a note. The options are endless.
- Pro Tip: The message that you associate with the gift is just as important as the gift itself. So, don’t leave that for the last minute.
Earth Day Campaign
- Sustainability Video: Our client ELLWOOD did a great example of an Earth Day video for their company. They recycle steel in their manufacturing process, and they realized that very few of their employees were aware of this. To share how they give back by recycling and reusing steel, they created a short, animated video that put the volume of recycled steel into perspective (e.g. how many Eiffel Towers worth). This was a great way to acknowledge Earth Day in a way that was meaningful to their company.
- A Philanthropic Event: If you don’t currently have great stats or involvement in environmental or sustainability efforts, it’s never too late to start. There are countless chances to get involved in your community and volunteer or donate to causes related to protecting the environment.
Memorial Day & Veterans Day (US) Campaign
If you don’t already acknowledge these days at your company, this is an important chance to provide support and empathy to those who might be directly impacted by these holidays and what they represent.
- Memorial Day: This holiday is likely a painful day for employees who have lost loved ones who served. That makes this time of year a good time to remind employees of the mental health benefits and services that you provide. If you don’t currently include mental health support in your benefits package, perhaps it’s time to change that.
- Veterans Day: Thank the veterans who work at your company on Veterans Day. It takes a little preparation, but see if you can get a list of veterans at your company from HR and with their consent thank them by name or even do spotlights on them on and around Veterans Day.
- Pro Tip: Definitely gauge what these employees are comfortable with before you do anything since Veterans Day is for them. If they aren’t comfortable with public recognition, doing something privately for them is a great alternative.
LGBT History Month Campaign
- Policy Changes: Review your current policies and protections for LGBTQ+ staff. Improving your policies is the best way to support your employees and create safer, more inclusive work environments for them. There is no reason to wait for LGBT History Month to do this, however, so don’t put it off just to have this campaign land exactly in October. Meaningful policy change is much more important than the timing being “cute.”
- Speaker Series: Whether it’s webinars or live speakers, many individuals can speak on this topic. Look within your company to see if any of your employees would be willing to share their stories and experiences. Don’t force that though!
Boss’s Day Campaign
- Thank You Gifts: Just like you might give gifts to employees on Employee Appreciation Day, we see Boss’s Day as a chance to celebrate your mid-level and frontline managers. They have very difficult jobs and often don’t get the support they need. A “thank you” gift or message can go a long way.
- Peer Recognition: You shouldn’t force this, but you might consider letting your employees all know that Boss’s Day is coming up. Many employees will probably want to celebrate their manager on that day—and some won’t. Let it happen organically.
- Invest in Training: We think the big opportunity around Boss’s Day is to invest in manager training. Announcing your new training program or kicking it off on Boss’s Day can be a meaningful way to celebrate. But, again, the day is less important than the program itself.
Native American Heritage Month (US)
- Attend Events: The Native American Heritage Month website has a great collection of events that you can attend both virtually and in person. We encourage you to look at the events available and let your employees know about the option to attend.
- Better Allies Book Club: Extend your Book Club reading list to include works written by Native Americans and about Native American history and culture.
- Food Drive: Hosting a food drive is a great way to involve your employees in something meaningful and give back to the communities you work in. They are also common enough around Thanksgiving that you could easily find a local food drive for your frontline teams to participate in even if you are spread out across the country or span multiple countries.
- Executive Team Video: We think it’s a big miss to not send a video message to your teams this time of year telling them what you’re grateful for: them. If you have employees working Black Friday, acknowledge that and thank them for keeping the business going.
End of Year Holidays
- Giving Tree or Adopt a Family: While it does slant towards Christmas in its theme, giving back to people in your community is a worthwhile cause.
- CEO Video(s): This time of year is a chance to reflect, show appreciation, and inspire your teams. Instead of a simple “Happy Holidays” message, talk about what you’ve accomplished and your goals for the new year.
- Ugly Sweater Contest: We like this idea because it’s an easy way for everyone to get involved, have some fun, and get to know each other better. There are many ways to accept entries, depending on the communication channels that you have at your company. At our company, employees post their own photos in our EMPLOYEEapp so everyone can see them, like, and comment. But you can also have a dropbox for submissions or an email address they should be sent to. The options really are endless here for how to go about this!
It’s important to note that this time of year can actually be a very difficult time for some people. It can be very difficult for these employees to feel included and want to participate in whatever festivities you plan. When going through comms campaign planning for the holiday season, we suggest sharing mental health and support resources.
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