Take time now to ensure that those who have to work when others are off have a reason to love their jobs and be productive.
Working on the holidays may be necessary, but it can be emotionally draining and morale-deflating for employees. Helping workers feel better about sacrificing holidays doesn’t have to be expensive and complicated. There are some basic but meaningful steps you can take to make hands-on holidays more productive and less stressful.
First of all, realize that not everyone in your organization may celebrate specific holidays; so don’t pressure anyone to participate or judge those who don’t. To ensure inclusion and diversity, involve a broad spectrum of employees in planning and organizing holiday-related activities and decorations. This also gives workers ownership of these celebrations and builds their enthusiasm for them.
Holiday shift coverage can create bad feelings and grudges if not handled judiciously. Discuss holiday coverage in advance so that workers can plan ahead. Consider a reward (such as a day off later on) for those who volunteer to work on the holidays. While holiday pay isn’t required by law for workers in the private sector, some organizations offer overtime pay or bonuses for holiday work. Elsewhere, gift cards or other perks can help let employees know that you appreciate their sacrifice. It’s important to inform employees upfront (and have it in your employee handbook) what, if any, holiday work expectations are and what, if any, overtime pay will be provided.
Try to be fair, consistent, and transparent about how holiday schedules are created. For instance, some organizations require everyone to work one or more holidays each year; and/or they rotate Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve/Day coverage so that no one has to work every holiday. It is helpful when leadership sets the standard, so consider having the same rules for management regarding holiday work.
Of course, food is the great equalizer. A hot meal and lots of special snacks can help provide comfort and create a festive atmosphere for holiday workers. Establish partnerships with local restaurants, gourmet stores, and bakeries to arrange for discounts on or donations of special foods and treats. Potluck meals may sound like fun, but asking already overburdened workers to spend time and money on food isn’t likely to boost morale. Instead, look for ways to pamper them with goodies they don’t get every day. Consider inviting employees’ family members to share a holiday lunch or dinner.
Entertainment can make holidays fun for workers and residents alike. Look for area musicians, magicians, and/or celebrities who are willing to stop by and bring some cheer. Even if you can’t pay them, don’t be afraid to ask. You might be surprised at their willingness to share some of their holiday with you, your employees, and your residents.
Engaging staff with residents over the holidays is an important opportunity to remind everyone that your organization is not just a business but a family and a home for many. Serving/helping others will remind your workers what these celebrations are all about; and bringing joy, fun, and companionship to people who may not have family or friends is tremendously rewarding.