3 Key Elements for Outstanding Year-End Messages

November 30, 2023

Year-end messaging is a powerful tool for leaders to boost employee morale. It can contribute to building a sense of community, trust, and shared purpose within an organization. Bonus points for messaging that ties back to the organizational mission, vision and values.

The end of the year always comes quickly — and 2023 is no different. For leaders, the end of the year is generally a time for reflection. It’s an opportunity to recognize all the great work and build excitement and momentum for the new year.

Your Year-End Messages Matter Even When It's Hard

We can all agree 2023 had a couple of curveballs. We’ve seen widespread layoffs and persistent threats of a looming recession.

Many leaders question whether or not end-of-year (EOY) messaging feels appropriate, given the current state of affairs. While the messaging may be a bit different this year, the value of hearing from leadership is still high. In fact, 40% of workers cite poor communication as a contributing factor of reduced trust in leadership.

There are multiple ways to ensure your messaging strikes a balance between acknowledging the not-so-good with what went well this year.

Here are three ways you can do that.

1. Admit When Things Aren’t Great

Transparency is key when it comes to communicating with your people. And trust me, they know what’s up.

In challenging times, solely delivering positive messages comes off as insincere and even insulting. Your team wants you to tell it straight, the whole story, not a cherry-picked version that highlights only the best moments.

If it’s been a hard year, do not pressure yourself to write a story that isn’t there. Your message will go a lot farther and your employees will respect you more for being honest and not sugarcoating the tough stuff.

A compelling EOY message acknowledges the challenges your organization faces. They can be the failures that may have thrown you off course. But those “failures” showcase your team’s resilience and the work that went into creating any success you did have.  

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2. Remember To Celebrate The Wins

Even if it feels like the year didn’t go the way you originally intended, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the wins you did have – large and small.

Gallup reports that employees are 3.7 times more likely to be engaged and experience burnout less frequently than those who don’t see recognition as a mainstay of their culture.

Acknowledging achievements and celebrating team efforts helps leaders reinforce a positive culture and reminds everyone that each employee has a hand in contributing to the company’s overall success.

Yes, times are tough, and you may be struggling to see the positive moments. But they are there. Dig deep and be sure to capture each and every milestone or outcome you achieved.

3. Be Human

There's a common misconception about leadership: that to seem strong, leaders must stay composed, poised, and avoid displaying emotions, essentially acting robotic. I argue that forced composure in the face of challenges and obstacles can have the exact opposite effect. You are a human first, and spoiler alert – it's okay for your people to know that.

Leading with empathy and vulnerability is arguably one of the most impactful things you can do when times are tough. In the same vein, emotional transparency is just as powerful as factual transparency when communicating.

In challenging times, embrace your humanity, display empathy, and acknowledge your own vulnerabilities to powerfully connect.

Click here to download our resource on building an employer brand that resonates with your people.

Create Year-End Magic

While the usual script may need some edits, crafting an end-of-year message that resonates with authenticity and optimism is possible.

End-of-year messaging from leaders requires a delicate balance of transparency, celebration, and humanity. But when done correctly, that very message will become a powerful tool for building trust, reinforcing a positive culture, and setting the foundation for a new year marked by shared purpose and collective growth.

Need help planning your year?

Get back to the basics and craft your strategic internal communication plan.

Creating your strategic communication plan involves a lot of moving pieces. If you find you need some support, don't hesitate to let us know.

Sonia Segal-Smith

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