What to Say in Your Year-End Message to Employees
The end of the year is a perfect time to talk with employees about the business’s accomplishments in 2013 and what lies ahead in 2014. A year-end message helps to reinforce everyone’s sense of belonging and build excitement for the coming year.
The most important elements of a year-end message are sincerity and authenticity: You will develop a stronger bond with your employees if they feel you’re being honest and not just “going through the motions” simply because you think you should.
Here are seven tips for making your year-end message count.
1. Choose the right venue. Convening a face-to-face meeting with employees may be the best way to keep your year-end message real, but by no means is this mandatory. A well-crafted email message can work, too, particularly if you relax your “business-owner voice” a bit and speak from the heart.
2. Start with “thank you.” Whatever format you choose, open your message by giving heartfelt thanks to everyone on the team. Receiving an expression of gratitude from the business’s owner can mean a great deal to the people who work for you all year round.
3. Take pride in your success. Has the business had a good year? Cite a few key achievements and offer a few statistics about how well the company performed against expectations. Restate your business’s commitment to its customers. Talk about a project or initiative that involved some or all of your workforce to strengthen a feeling of community. Employees want to know that, no matter what position they hold, they are contributing to a successful enterprise. Now is an ideal time to tell them!
4. Discuss past challenges. If your business hit some rough patches in 2013, these too can be mentioned in passing. Remember, your year-end message will sound more authentic if you acknowledge that a particular strategy failed to yield the hoped-for results. This also represents an opportunity to remind employees of the lessons you’ve learned from the experience — and to underscore how things will be different in the year to come.
5. Look ahead. Broadly address the opportunities likely to arise in 2014. Instill new hope and anticipation in your employees by keeping your year-end message upbeat. A business owner with a positive attitude inspires a team and encourages people to believe that anything is possible. (There will be plenty of time later to talk about obstacles or challenges.)
6. Make sure everyone understands it’s OK to “take a breath” for the holidays (except if you’re in retail). As you wind down your message, remind everyone that during the holiday season, family and friends come first. Encourage people to reflect on their good fortune and enjoy the holidays without thinking too much about work. For busy retail employees, a message along the lines of "Things will settle down after the holidays" acknowledges the hard work they're doing right now.
7. Wish everyone a happy new year. Finally, don’t forget to simply wish your employees a happy new year. Thank everyone again and remind them how much you value their contributions to the success of the business.
Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.