In the latest episode of Dr. Jim Kanichirayil’s podcast, Engaging Leadership, OrgShakers’ very own Brittany Burton sat down with him at the HR Transform in Las Vegas to delve into the nuances of talent strategy within high-growth organizations.

Brittany hones in on the importance of recognizing and nurturing emergent leaders within a company, especially in the context of start-ups. She discusses how identifying and developing these individuals is essential for innovation and growth, emphasizing the personalized nature of effective talent development.

Listen to the full episode below:

The holiday bonus is carrying a lot more weight this year. With financial concerns at an all-time high, many employees may find themselves eager to receive an additional monetary gift more than ever this holiday season. And while WorkNest found that nearly a third (30%) of employers are planning on giving staff one-off bonuses, this still leaves a majority of companies who either do not have the means to offer one or have not considered it.

However, an end of year bonus doesn’t necessarily have to be money. Whether you are a small organization who cannot afford to offer gifts, or you would like to give something a little different this year, here are some fun and cost-friendly alternatives to show employees gratitude this time of year:

  1. Gift card and handwritten note – it does not have to be a high dollar value, but it will still help leaders convey appreciation for their teams. A small Starbucks gift card and an accompanying, individualized note can easily put a smile on someone’s face, especially when they treat themselves to a holiday beverage.
  2. Or even just a card – if the budget is very tight, even a heart-felt card to each member of staff helps to show the appreciation being held for them. Taking the time to write each one and add in a unique detail will demonstrate how well a manager knows their employees and will make them feel seen and valued.
  3. Get creative – Leverage your creativity and gift something handmade to your employees this holiday season. If you are a business that operates remotely, use your design skills by putting together fun, personalized backgrounds for each team member. Use the background to showcase positive feedback or accomplishments highlighting employees’ most impactful achievements throughout the year. Handmade gifts are one of the best ways to show gratitude for your team. The time dedicated to each individual’s gift speaks volumes about your commitment and appreciation.
  4. Virtual holiday party – if the budget for an end of year staff party is tight, then why not consider hosting it online? Encourage those that wish to attend to slip on a quirky jumper or ugly sweater, change their Zoom or Teams background to something from their festive beliefs and host a virtual game of Jeopardy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire? to get everyone involved. Check out our tips and tricks for hosting a fun and appropriate holiday staff party here!
  5. Host an awards ceremony – Take a new twist on things. A team awards ceremony is a great activity that can be done in person or online. To coincide with awards season, why not set up your own mock red carpet? Whether you deck out with a buffet and drinks or just keep it simple, this is an innovative way of showing gratitude to your team and gives you the opportunity to have a good laugh as a team with fun awards!
  6. Or, if you do have more of a budget…there are a variety of things that can be offered in exchange of a monetary bonus that can prove to be more thoughtful and sincere, while still being relatively budget friendly. For example, planning an activity to do together, such as a curated beer/wine tasting (in person or virtual!) or something more physical (bowling, escape room). And, if you are a remote company, there are plenty of virtual experiences that everyone can take part in – this could be anything from a virtual cooking class to an interactive online murder mystery party.
  7. Make it meaningful – Those looking to give back to the community whilst providing a cheery team building experience this season should consider stepping away from the office and volunteering together. Employees can appreciate the time away knowing it’s for a meaningful cause. Another idea is using a service like Packed with Purpose, which allows employees to curate their own gift box full of a variety of goodies while supporting a variety of social and environmental causes. So, while the gift is thoughtful and individual, it is also having a positive social impact. Demonstrating the company’s alignment with personal values is becoming more attractive to talent, especially across the younger generations in the workforce. Something as simple as making a donation to a charitable organization of an employee’s choosing can go a long way, as it shows how important their social values are to you as an employer. Opting for these more meaningful gifts that give back is an excellent way for companies to demonstrate the investment that they have in their employee’s social values.

Whichever way an organization chooses to show their appreciation for their employees this holiday season, there is one key piece of advice that leaders need to remember:

It’s all about the messaging. As with any reward or recognition, the communication which accompanies the gift is very important. Ensure that any gift, activity or experience substituted for a monetary reward clearly expresses gratitude and shows how you have your employees’ interests front of mind when choosing them. Happy employees will lead to healthy business – and this is the ultimate goal.

If you would like to get in touch or need further guidance on how to approach an end of year bonus, you can contact me at

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

HR teams can find themselves in a crossfire between employer and employee. At first blush, the HR department recruits, enables, and fosters employee growth, and so would appear as a service for the people. And yet, contrary to this, it is those in the higher leadership ranks who regularly seek HR counsel and guidance and ultimately hire and pay these HR professionals.

How does HR effectively balance the services it offers to the employer and the employees?

Balance can be difficult to determine and perceived differently in varying contexts. For example, in a business where there is a strong union environment, would it make sense for HR to provide additional support to managers and leadership in order to level the playing field, so to speak? If so, would employees feel limited or disinclined to express issues they have to HR?

A workforce perception that HR teams are only there to help “higher up” already exists, with one study finding that 70% of employees do not trust their personnel department. If we look at it from this perspective, HR teams need to seek ways they can recalibrate the balance so employees trust in HR’s neutrality and feel comfortable communicating their issues. A fundamental aspect of Human Resources is to be a connection between management and staff, and if they are being iced out by employees – who make up the majority of any company – then they will not be able to effectively enhance the workforce experience or workplace culture. Conversely, managers and leadership must also be able to trust HR’s neutrality and advice, viewing them as a strategic partner in meeting company goals and objectives.

Is there a ‘default’ view HR professionals can take when caught in the middle?

Simply put, their job is to help guide leaders on how they can optimize their company through their staff while also supporting workforce health, growth, and development. In this sense, HR teams are always advocating for the people, because those same people make up the foundation that buttresses managers, leadership, and business outcomes.  

With the contemporary workforce undergoing a great rebirth of their outlook on work and what they seek to gain from it, more people want to work in a person-centric environment. A 2022 report by Gallup found 61% of respondents said greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing was a very important consideration when looking for a new job. Both attributes are key HR services, and it could be argued the true balance HR should seek leans more in favor of employees. By being consciously people-centric, this could ultimately benefit the employer through an engaged, energized, and dedicated workforce.

The reality is, there can be no one set approach. Companies vary in their needs and organizational dynamics, and so HR must seek to calibrate the unique balance for each company, department, division, team, or individual with whom they work.

If you need help navigating that journey, OrgShakers has a breadth of experience across all different types of organizations – whether that be public, private, global, unionized, or non-unionized. Head over to our contact page to get in touch, or you can email me directly at

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

Throughout my career I’ve found myself gravitating towards startup assignments.

I’m a builder, so I find creating a business from scratch and calming the chaos extremely fulfilling.

Entrepreneurs who have chosen to create, develop, and execute a service or product are, by necessity, focused on growing the business.

External consultants, on the other hand, can deal with the time-consuming – but essential – details that keep the business on track:

  • Bringing a consultant on board gives entrepreneurs the freedom to focus on strategy and innovation, without getting bogged-down in the tactical aspects of scaling a business.
  • Experienced consultants are likely to have experienced similar growth environments and can share with entrepreneurs valuable ‘tricks and tips’ to drive organic growth. With a consultant’s guidance business founders can make and invest in better decisions from the start without the experimentation that wastes time, money, and energy.
  • Consultants are outside the business team and vested in the success of their assignment. As a result, they can rise above the office politics and interpersonal dynamics that inhibit the execution of strategy. Indeed, they can give business founders the honest, objective feedback they need to address these issues before they become problems.

On a recent assignment I found myself executing on all the above, allowing the business founder to shift their focus away from tactical areas best left for functional leaders and to spend more time fundraising for the company’s next investment series.

This is where we can help.

OrgShakers consultants have the knowledge, tools, and expertise across a wide range of People disciplines to give business founders the reassurance that what they have already built is in good hands … while freeing them up to focus on the growth of the company.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

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