Holiday Businesses Practices to Build Engagement

download (2)It’s the holiday season.  What are you plans?  Family gatherings?  Mistletoe and caroling?  Holiday tree?  Menorah? Festivus decorations?

How about at work?  Any traditions that set this month aside from the rest?  As the boss, how do you set the tone for the holidays?

Here are my own suggestions for making this a memorable and positive holiday season, regardless of how your employees may celebrate (or not):

  • Resist the temptation for gift exchanges (white elephant or not)
  • Encourage (authentically!) time off
  • Insist that time off MEANS time off!
  • Holiday bonus should be EQUAL, not performance or longevity-based
  • Follow your own “rules”
  • Thank everyone!

Gift ExchangesGift Exchanges – Nothing ruins the holiday spirit better than office gift exchanges, in my opinion.  Wonderfully intended, requiring (or even suggestion voluntary participation) in these exchanges inevitably alienates some employees.  The reality is, many employees don’t know what to give, so gifts end up being either overly goofy or merely gestures.  Now, I know the holidays are all about giving, but giving something you know it crap doesn’t make a person feel good.  And in this day and age, it’s unusual for an office to not have at least one person who is already feeling the financial pinch of the holiday season.  Compelling them to come up with one more (even token) gift is insensitive to anyone’s potential personal situation.  Better to simply avoid this one altogether.

vacastress_introTime Off – For most people, the holidays (regardless of religion or creed) mean family time.  And there’s nothing worse than feeling guilty taking time off to try and spend time with ever geographically distant relatives.  So, as the boss, you should do everything in your power to ensure people can and do take time off.  I’ll go a step further…even if it means working yourself during this time, so that others can take time off, DO IT!  Nothing says “servant leader” better (and plays into the holiday spirit more) than volunteering to work, even at tasks below your pay grade.  Your success and your “importance” is due entirely to your people.  Pay them back by making sure to the best of your ability, they can take the time away from work that they deserve.

Unplugged Time – Insist that when people are off, they are truly off.  Be explicit about this!  No emails.  No smartphones.  No contact with the office.  If you have anyone who you can’t afford to be truly “unplugged” for a week or so, you’ve got a bigger leadership and management issue.

holiday-bonusHoliday Bonuses – Too often holiday bonuses based on longevity or performance do little more than divide a workplace at just the time when you COULD be rallying everyone around the team dynamic of your work.  If you feel strongly about bonuses at this time of year (and I personally think they are great!), make sure everyone receives the same bonus (sales, ops, support, executives, and custodial staff).

Do It YOURSELF! – If the rules are good enough for your employees, you’ve got to make sure they are good enough for yourself.  You also need to take time off (even if it’s before or after the holiday to ensure coverage so employees can take time).  You need to unplug.  You need to accept no more of a bonus than your most junior employee.  Model the type of servant leader you are…no better than the least of your followers.

images (16)Give Thanks – Nothing is more important than authentically letting your people know exactly how lucky you are to have them on your team, how much their efforts mean NOT ONLY TO THE TEAM and the organization, but TO YOU personally.

Do these six things, and you’ll find yourself emerging from this holiday season with a more dedicated, loyal, appreciative, and engaged workforce.  And with that, you’re off to the best start you can imagine for the New Year!

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