We’re all reading the same headlines. The pandemic continues to take its toll on the workplace, regardless of whether you’re working in an office or remotely.
I came across an article in Fast Company that cited a study saying 68% of employees are more stressed out now than they were pre-pandemic. Add to that the stress that comes with a holiday and well, we’re talking about a lot of stress. Organizations can help employees during these stressful times by doing a few things differently.
Be flexible with time. In my experience, employers are typically flexible with employees during this time of year because of family obligations. Just because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are encouraging us all to stay home, doesn’t mean that employees won’t need some flexibility. It’s possible that they’re trying to do some Zoom family events in place of being in person. And it might take some coordination.
Rework the bonus program. At least temporarily. The last quarter of the year is often a time when organizations push employees a little harder. Much of that is tied to annual bonuses and goal achievement. I realize the pandemic has hurt businesses and revenue lines. If the company if offering some sort of incentive or bonus right now during the holiday, make sure it’s challenging and achievable. Not unrealistic and unnecessarily stressful.
Cancel the parties. Reallocate the budget. Yep, I’m saying it. Organizations like to celebrate a bit more during this time with client parties and employee parties. As much as we would all like a party, it’s risky from a health perspective. But don’t do nothing. Take some of that money and put it toward a gift that can be sent to a client or employee’s home.
Two small gifts could be better than one large gift. Years ago, I worked for a hotel that was super busy in December and slow in January. Instead of having a big holiday party in December, we had a small one. And a big party in January. It also helped that we had a new budget year in January. Organizations could use this philosophy when it comes to employee and client gifts. January is not too late to wish people a Happy New Year.
Don’t have the money for a gift? Consider time off. Some organizations might balk at the expense of buying and shipping gifts. That’s okay, every organization’s bank account looks different. But if you can’t purchase gifts, then consider a gift that doesn’t have a direct cost – like a day off. Maybe package a Day Off IOU in a holiday card that employees can redeem.
Remind employees about their benefits. Many organizations conduct their annual open enrollments during this time of year. It could be a perfect time to remind employees about their overall benefits package including employee assistance programs and mental health benefits. Also, if the company has negotiated any discount program perks – like savings on WW at Work – maybe employees can participate at home.
Thank employees for their hard work. And clients for their partnership. Finally, while gifts are great, this holiday season is an opportunity to connect with individuals. Let people know that you appreciate them. I know we’re all feeling some video call fatigue, but a nice note from the CEO or a personal call from the boss will really mean a lot to employees. And don’t forget to thank customers for their patience and patronage.
There’s lots of good news about vaccines and that’s wonderful but we’re not done with the pandemic yet. It possible that we will be dealing with the impact of this for several months. Use this time to thank employees for their support.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while attending the Workhuman Conference in Nashville, TN7