By Alison Hinson
"If the holidays are so happy, then why are my employees so miserable?"
What could be better than the winter holidays? An entire month of fun-filled dinners with the extended family, shopping for diamonds or new cars to surprise our loved ones and time spent with the kids making holiday crafts and home-made cookies. Oh wait - that's the holiday season that commercials tell us we should have.
For many people, the holidays shown on commercials do not resemble the reality of our daily lives. During the 11 other months of the year, we struggle to make ends meet (much less buy diamonds and new cars), find enough time to clean the house (forget about gourmet dinners), and deal with family dynamics that put the "fun" in dysfunctional. The stress your employees feel during the rest of the year can be magnified between Thanksgiving and New Years, and that stress is not checked at the door when they arrive at work.
Unfortunately, this stress can affect the productivity and relationships at your workplace. To alleviate some of the stress (and add a little cheer to the holidays), try some of these ideas:
Share Holiday Tips
Ask people to submit tips on how to minimize stress and work during the holidays, then share these ideas with your staff.
Reduced stress and lowered expectations can add to the enjoyment of the holidays. Here's an example of one to share with your staff: Is it the baking or the decorating of cookies that your kids enjoy the most? If it's the aroma of baking cookies they love, buy the pre-made dough. If decorating is their thing, let them explore their creativity on cookies you bought at the bakery.
Have a Company 'Garage' Sale
The irony of giving gifts at the holidays is that we spend lots of money to buy presents when many of us already have a house full of things we don't use. A company garage sale can benefit employees in two ways: some people can raise money by selling things they don't need, while others can buy gifts at garage sale prices.
Watch for Depression
Use outside resources to address depression at the holidays.
Depression during the holidays is a very real issue. People who struggle with depression during the rest of the year can become overwhelmed during the winter months. Invite a health professional to attend a staff meeting to discuss the signs and symptoms of depression. Ask them to stay after the meeting in case anyone wants to ask more questions or request help.
Give the Gift of Time
Think about giving everyone a few extra hours off. This can be done in many ways - closing the office at 2 pm the day before the holiday or giving people the opportunity to take a two-hour lunch so they can run errands. Additional time off can result in grateful and less-stressed employees.
The holidays can be a stressful, unproductive time for many people. As a business owner or manager, you can start changing the holiday season, one company at a time.