The holidays are a stressful time for everyone, but as an entrepreneur and small business owner, you’re uniquely positioned to alleviate some of that stress in the workplace. Taking such actions not only benefits your employees, it helps your business by mitigating the negative effects of lost productivity, absenteeism and the onset of stress-related illnesses.
Plus, your employees will greatly appreciate the fact that, in spite of the whirlwind activity associated with this time of year, their boss was still looking out for them.
Here’s some ways to reduce or minimize stress for your hard-working staff:
Help people prioritize their workload. What current projects or initiatives must be completed before year’s end? Employees who feel swamped with work during this hectic time can use all the help they can get in establishing (and sticking to) priority work assignments. Help them sort out what has to be done now and what can be addressed later. Set realistic deadlines that move employees closer to finishing the job and staying sane in the process.
Keep lines of communication open. Attending to your own holiday obligations may mean you’re not in the office as much as usual. That’s fine, as long as you maintain ways for employees to stay in touch with you. Ask for status updates and, where obstacles spring up, offer guidance on how to take corrective action. Don’t let projects get stuck because you can’t be reached for input.
Offer flexible schedules and floating holidays. Depending on the type of business you run, give employees some flexibility in their work schedule. This way, they can attend to job commitments and do all the stuff necessary to prepare for holiday celebrations. Floating holidays that enable employees to celebrate family traditions with paid time off is another option to consider.
Give small bonuses as gifts. What workplace achievements can you honor with a small holiday gift or bonus? People enjoy getting gift certificates or phone cards or gift cards for groceries. At the same time, make clear to everyone that they’re not expected to exchange or provide expensive gifts for each other during the holiday season. Instead, encourage inexpensive ornament exchanges or other gifts that don’t make a further dent in everyone’s paycheck.
Offer healthy holiday food choices. Cookies, cakes and other sweet but non-nutritious food items can be found in ample supply at this time of year. Why not try something different by bringing in healthy food choices for lunch (fresh fruit, vegetable trays, etc.)? It’s also a good idea to promote exercise for the coming year. One idea: look into group discounts at a nearby fitness center where you can offer employees a way to meet one of their New Year’s resolutions.
Express your gratitude. Taking time to simply say, “Thank you,” to employees (as a group and where possible, in a one-to-one conversation) is another holiday morale-booster. Remember, employees spend the bulk of their waking hours contributing their knowledge and experience to the growth of the business. They want to know their efforts are valued. They’ll feel better about the holidays knowing their boss appreciates their year-round contributions.
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