The holidays are a time when workers have a lot more on their mind than work. While it may not be at the top of your priority list, embracing a fun attitude around the holidays can boost office morale, encourage better employee collaboration, and might not be as big of a drain on productivity as some Scrooge managers think. Follow these guidelines to keep your employees from thinking you’re a Scrooge this holiday season.
Encourage Non-Disruptive Holiday Fun
Start the holidays off right with a festive holiday spirit. Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, most of your employees will be celebrating something between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Don’t be a negative Nancy and put a kibosh on all the fun. Instead, embrace it and participate.
As long as everyone gets their work done, there is no harm in letting your employees plan a fun potluck, competition, or field trip to get some team-building time in while everyone is in the festive spirit. Unless an idea will impact a customer or your bottom line, don’t say no to fun ideas to decorate and celebrate.
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Include Employees From All Backgrounds
I’m Jewish, so I have exactly zero interest in celebrating Christmas beyond acknowledging the holiday that so many of my friends enjoy – and I won’t say no to a great Black Friday deal! As a minority in every office I have ever worked in, I always appreciated when a generic “happy holidays” was used in place of “Merry Christmas,” but it takes more than that to be inclusive.
Remember that some of your employees may be non-religious, and others could be Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or something else. Yes, in the United States we realize we are minorities and most of our colleagues celebrate Christmas, but a little extra effort for added inclusiveness goes a long way.
Give a Little Extra Time Off
I’m a big advocate of “four o’clock Friday” all year, but around the holidays no one wants to burn the midnight oil and work through evenings and holidays. Workers would much prefer to get out of the office and spend time with their family and friends outside of work. Giving them a little extra time, particularly when you don’t have to, is a huge opportunity to boost morale and loyalty. And it proves your anti-Scrooge attitude.
If your business can handle it, let employees head home early on the eve of holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Even if it takes a little creativity to ensure everything is covered, it means a lot to employees when you recognize their work-life balance wants and needs.
Give Small Presents
Have you ever met someone who didn’t like getting presents? Of course not, everyone likes presents! If you want to show your employees that you value them beyond a paycheck, a modest holiday gift is a great option.
In my past experience, employers gave team members homemade cookies, gift cards, and once a bottle of champagne. In all cases, I had a big smile on my face and appreciated what my bosses did for me. If you own the business, you can even deduct the cost of holiday gifts for employees on your taxes.
Host a Holiday Party
The gold standard of the holidays is a company holiday party, which doubles as proof that you are not the office Scrooge. For a small business with a low budget, you can take your team out for a happy hour and buy drinks, appetizers, and desserts. Depending on the size of your team, you can host an event like this for a low three figure cost.
Big companies do a lot more than a happy hour for the holidays. The biggest companies bring in famous entertainers and rent out entire hotels for their annual holiday soiree. Look to these company holiday parties for inspiration, but don’t feel obligated to live up to the high bar set by some holiday parties with costs that reach into the hundreds of thousands if not more. Pick a budget and try to stretch your dollars to get the most bang for your buck.
Get in the Holiday Spirit
At my last job, we had an annual “dress up your boss” ugly sweater contest at our weekly stand-up meeting. That contest cost the company zero beyond a few minutes of productivity and produced lots of laughs. You don’t have to spend big to avoid being a Scrooge.
When the holidays pass, you can go back to work and put on the Scrooge McDuck persona chasing profits. But for the holidays, take it easy and enjoy the season with your friends and family, and your colleagues too. The good office energy you build will pay dividends come January.
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