Managing the Holiday Season

Once again we have reached the holiday season. While a large part of the population enjoys the season we must be careful on how we handle work related celebrations. I have been a Manager/Director for almost 20 years and would like to share a few tips on how to handle holiday celebrations.

HolidayParties: In today’s work environment you should never ask your employees religious views. However, you may have picked up on individual beliefs throughout their employment. It is never safe to assume that having a Holiday celebration is appropriate. Some religions consider the celebrating of any day to be a form of worshiping the day itself and isn’t an acceptable practice. Each year at this time I do hold an employee appreciation dinner. This is a function in which I as the manager express my thanks for the employees’ service during the past year.

Gifts: If you do decide to have a Holiday celebration then the next question that arises is what about gifts. I have worked at places in which gifts exchange was encouraged if not required. This can be a lot of fun for you and your employees but can also but an undo burden on some employees. In today’s tough economical times do we really want to add another expense to our employees? I prefer to abstain from the practice of promoting gift exchange. However, I also do not object to the employees participating in some type of employee organized voluntary gift exchange process.

Greetings: I have to admit I still struggle in this area. If a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or any other greeting is extended I cheerfully offer it in return. If not I prefer sticking with the standards, have a good day, or have a good weekend is recommended. Managers this does not make you a Scrooge. As managers it is always best to put our own believes aside and be considerate of our employees.

Alcohol: Open Bars were very common at work parties when I started out in management. Times have changed; serving alcohol at work sponsored events is no longer an acceptable practice.

Sponsorships: As managers this is one in which a lot of us miss. Did you know that picking an establishment for the holiday party, or giving out gift cards to a store or establishment can be considered a form of sponsorship of that organization by your company? This does not mean that you can’t take your employees out, just let them decide. Have a discussion at one of your employee meetings and ask for suggestions. When the suggestions are received take a poll on where to go, majority rules (as long as it is an acceptable establishment). If you wish to give your employees gift cards then stick with generic cards that can be used anywhere.

Dress Code: I like to keep the dress code that same as work, usually business casual. This gives the employees the options of their current wardrobe. As managers we don’t want to put our employees in a situation where they feel they need to go out and purchase new clothing as this may put undo stress on the employee.

Attitude: I know this one seems to be a given, but as Managers we always need to keep in mind we don’t know everything that is going on in our employees life’s. This time a year can be very stressful and we need to be sensitive to that fact. Comments like cheer up, why so down, are you being scrooge this year, can be hurtful. We can be supportive but should never assume that everyone is just going to be happy during this time of year.

I hope this article helps you help your employees through this time of year. As always our job is too observant and vigilant to our employees and to our organization. We can do both as long as we take time to consider our actions.

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