Invest In Your Team - 15 Inventive Ways to Pay It Forward

Julie Jones
In 1986, Woody Hayes, the legendary football coach, delivered a commencement address at The Ohio State University where he noted that “You can never really pay back. You can only pay it forward.Pay it forward means to extend the good that you have received by spreading kindness or a warm welcome to others. Hayes went on to say, “Hard work, tough decisions, teamwork, family values, and paying ahead will help to change this world and make it a better place.” As a leader, you can pay it forward to your team, support them in their journey, and make their workplace better. The holiday season is a perfect time to pay it forward for their benefit.

Team members want to be recognized, heard, included, and for their work to matter. Small gestures make a difference and don’t have to cost much money.

So try one of these fifteen ideas to pay it forward for your team. Plus, research has shown that everyone wins in a giving environment, both the givers and receivers.

1.       Handwrite a Card of Thanks or Gratitude to Someone on your Team. What do you appreciate about them, or is there a specific activity you would like to thank them for? Print the template provided on lightweight cardstock and you are ready to write two cards.
2.       Holiday Host Walk Around. Reserve time on your schedule to walk, talk and learn more about your team members’ favorite holiday traditions. What is important to them? Afterwards, take a few notes and maybe find a way to recognize their favorite tradition.  

3.       Create a Holiday Playlist and Include each Team Member’s Favorite. Then, stream the playlist during the holiday season. Display the song, artist, and team member’s choice using the playlist template and share it in an email, on Slack®, a bulletin board or any other communication channels you use with your team.  

4.       Extend a Random Act of Kindness. These are small but meaningful gestures – helping someone with their bags, buying a beverage for a team member, bringing in your favorite holiday snack to share, or spending extra time with a new team member to make sure they feel welcome.

  5.       Participate in a Volunteer Activity as a Team. Your organization or other service organizations may be looking for volunteers to hand out gifts, write holiday messages, serve meals, or package food. Volunteer activities are a great way to build a giving culture within a team.  

6.       Host a  $5.00 “Deskoration” or Locker Gift Exchange. It’s easy to find a fun, personal, and creative item to decorate a team member’s desk or locker. Post photos on a bulletin board to share the updated looks.  

7.       Create Origami Stars from Holiday Wrapping Paper. Let team members craft and personalize their stars and then create a hanging garland from the handmade art. You might consider developing some origami star masters—those who can help others with the craft. The link below from Homemade Gifts Made Easy provides simple directions and a video.

8.       Host a Favorite Holiday Cookie or Dessert Bake-Off Contest. Have team members bake their favorites and share why they chose this cookie or dessert. Set up a team member judging panel and award prizes. Consider unique awards such as most creative use of chocolate, simplest recipe, or most interesting holiday cookie/dessert story. Print the recipe card template on lightweight cardstock, and you are ready for team members to write their recipes. Make copies and share printed copies of the recipes for others to try at home.

9.       Coordinate a Gently Used Toy, Children’s Book, Blanket, or Coat Drive. Have team members identify potential donation locations for the items collected.  

10.       Plan and Host a Team “Mascot” Scavenger Hunt During the Holiday Season. Like Elf on the Shelf®, select a small stuffed animal “mascot” to hide each day. For another fun twist, invite team members to name the mascot. Each day, hide your mascot and encourage team members to locate the mascot and write the location on the scavenger hunt form. Identify how many days or locations must be listed for a winning entry. Randomly select a few winners from the completed forms. Consider gift ideas that might connect to your mascot theme.  

Other Ways To Pay It Forward With Your Actions This Holiday Season And They Are FREE.  

11.       Be compassionate.

12.       Be present.

13.       Assume positive intent.

14.       Be Intentional and considerate in your communication.

15.       Compliment a few people each day.

Invest in your team by paying it forward to welcome, include, connect, and enjoy time spent with each other.

Wishing you a happy holiday season from all of us at Ruck-Shockey Associates, Inc. To honor and recognize the work of our client healthcare hero partners, Ruck-Shockey Associates, Inc.  is paying it forward and donating to Feeding America

Wishing you a happy holiday season from all of us at Ruck-Shockey Associates, Inc. 
Don't hesitate

Head over to our course section to download a copy of the list and the free gratitude card, holiday playlist, and recipe card templates from the Invest In Your Team free course.