It’s that time of the year again. Winter is here and so is the flurry of year-end greetings that you need to send out to clients, employees, and other stakeholders of your business. Sending and receiving these greetings is expected and important as it serves to boost morale.
However, have you considered the possibility that your message might be excluding some of your recipients? Receiving similar greetings from everyone desensitises us to the joy of the holidays and devalues what can be a valuable exercise in business communication – making the year-end greetings work towards a possibility of collaboration in the next year.
While more diversity in the workplace than before is an encouraging sign, it also means that one has to remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Businesses are considered to be secular but at the end of the year, sending out Christmas or New Year wishes means that your employees and other recipients might not view it in the same light and it could even be perceived as being insensitive. Year-end wishes have to be framed in a way that doesn’t leave anyone feeling excluded. Moreover, when a business chooses to ignore religious diversity, they give out the message that the beliefs of its recipients don’t matter.
The end of the year also brings out Seasonal Affective Disorder in many people, even though it’s depression related to the changing of seasons. For most people, SAD manifests itself mostly in the winter. Some people might have had to deal with grief and the holidays could be sad and stressful for them nevertheless. As a business, you need to take into consideration the mental well-being of your employees and reach out to them if they are exhibiting signs of distress. Receiving a cheery card about year-end wishes might just exacerbate their feelings of unhappiness, that the world is carrying on merrily while they suffer.
The holidays are meant to be uncomplicated and fun but this simple exercise of reaching out to your clients, employees, and stakeholders can become a landmine of faux pas that can be easily avoided if you keep in mind the following communication tips.
- Be aware of who your recipients are – Sending out a mass mailer to everyone, with the same stock greeting can prove to be problematic for the reasons mentioned above. A better way to deal with this would be to identify your recipients and send them customised greetings.
- Old school mail is better – Although emails are faster and easier to send out, posting actual cards foster a sense of belonging and bolster the image of your business, making you look thoughtful and considerate. What’s more, they add a sense of nostalgia and that hardly ever goes wrong.
- Avoid jokes – Sadly, not everyone has a funny bone and what might seem like a harmless bit of fun or pun, as it may, it’s better to be on the safer side. Most of the time, jokes work better when delivered in person, with other contextual cues such as tone of voice and expression, which cannot be conveyed accurately in a card.
- Personalize the card – Ensure that the card reflects your company and to that end, maybe include a picture of the employees that has been taken for this specific occasion. A season’s greeting card can be used to reinforce the brand of the company and showcase the story that you’ve been telling about your business.
- Keep it short – A card isn’t the place to give a report about how well your company has been doing, so avoid using the minimal space present to crow about your company’s achievements. Make the message about the recipient, and ensure that the words you use deliver that message succinctly and clearly.
So, now you’ve got the good card stock and the design has been approved. But what will the card actually say, especially if you have to keep all this in mind? Here are some suggestions that might set you out in the right direction.
Warm greetings from us to you
Sending you warm greetings and warm wishes for the holidays
Happy holidays and best wishes for the new year
Thank you for your continued support and business. We hope to work with you again in the coming year.
Thank you for being a part of our family. We look forward to continuing this in the coming year too.
While year-end greetings are an important step in the relationship between you and your customers and employees, do remember that this is a learning curve and resolve to do better in the years to come. Becoming an inclusive and thoughtful organisation cannot happen overnight and needs time to accomplish. And if you’re already thinking of how to make a difference, then you’ve taken the important first step.