As many folks begin to prepare for the upcoming holiday season in their personal lives, many businesses are focusing on all of the tasks, projects, and workloads that can be impacted due to the season. Well friends, tis the season to be more prepared as an employer or manager at your organization. Whether you are an HR professional, small business owner, or Executive Director, now is a good time to get yourself organized as the year quickly comes to an end. Here is your guide to surviving the holiday season as an employer: 

1. Communicate with Employees

Remind employees about upcoming closures for the holidays and to be sure to communicate to HR or their Direct Manager of any additional time-off. This is another great time to remind your customers, clients, or stakeholders of the office hours or closures for the holiday season in an email, newsletter, or via autoresponder. 

2. Review and Share Policies

Speaking of time-off, it would be wise to review and send out the current time-off policy at your organization and any details regarding how to submit time-off in an appropriate manner. 

3. Prepare for Burnout

Be prepared for burnout, overwhelm, and stress to increase. As a manager or business owner, it is important that you prepare yourself and your team for burnout and overwhelm to rise over the next few weeks. I would suggest you look at prevention methods to lessen or reduce stress for staff and yourself. How many meetings do you have in a week? Do you need to have that amount of meetings per week? Would a status update on projects be easier to manage via email? Is it possible for staff to change their schedules around during this time of year to accommodate the busyness this season brings? For example, maybe Fridays can be half days instead. Another idea is to encourage staff to take lunch breaks and a 10-15 minute break away from their computer during their workday. Ask yourself, how can you set an example? (Folks are more likely to take breaks if they see their manager take breaks.) In addition, ask your team what accommodations they would like to have during this time and be sure to provide them with resources on how to navigate burnout, overwhelm and stress during this time.  

4. Set Clear Expectations

Communicate your expectations for your team in regards to deadlines on their projects, assignments, and tasks before taking time off for the holidays. Also, do not forget to remind them to prepare or come up with a work plan together on how their workload will be handled when they come back to work. What are those expectations you have for them when they return? Do they know these expectations? Be sure to go over these with your staff as soon as possible. In addition, ask your team how you can support them during this time. 

5. Schedule Check-ins

If you have a team that will be working during the holiday season, be sure to check in with them on when they can take time off in the new year. Go ahead and block time off now, and get it scheduled. 

6. Make Time to Celebrate

Celebrate your team! This is a great time to plan either a company holiday party or an end-of-the-year celebration (this could be an alternative, especially for staff who do not celebrate the holidays). It is essential to find a way to celebrate your staff and acknowledge all of their hard work from the year. (Honestly, I would suggest coming up with ways to do this on a regular basis at your organization.) It does not have to be a huge party, it can be an intimate dinner and game night if you have a smaller team. Make it fun for you, as the employer to host and for your employees to attend. You could plan a full-day retreat with team-building activities, workshops, and host a nice lunch. There are so many ways you can celebrate your staff that does not cost an arm and a leg, just get creative. 

7. Pick One Project

Pick a project! This is a great time of year to review your list of projects that you haven’t had a chance to work on or finalize from earlier on in the year. You can start by making a list of all of those projects and just pick one that you finish up before the end of the year. Or that you can start on in Q1 of 2022. 

8. Be Strategic

Strategic planning or creating an HR Strategic plan. One of the projects you might want to start tackling could be your annual strategic planning or creating a strategic plan for your Human Resources department. If you have already generated a 5 or 10-year plan for your business then, you can just take time to review it and compare your progress thus far. (Also, be sure to break that plan down into goals on a quarterly or monthly basis and share those goals with your employees.) If you have not started a strategic plan for your organization, that is OK too! You can make this easier by looking at your goals or outcomes for the next 5 years and begin working backward from there. Then, break down those goals into actionable steps for the next 1-2 years. This can be applied to HR Managers as well! Look at the organizational goals first and then look at the needs. Start by outlining your HR buckets and give each bucket a goal. For example, your buckets could be employee engagement, safety training, JEDI efforts, recruitment, etc. From there, you can look at the buckets and create a corresponding timeline to put those goals into action at your organization. 

9. Solicit Feeback

Grab feedback from your staff! I highly suggest taking the time to create and share a feedback survey with your staff. This survey can help you with listening to what your staff is wanting more or less at your organization. You can ask them questions in regards to employee engagement, benefits, managerial relations, DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice) efforts, and more. It is critical to have a purpose when you are gathering feedback from your employees. Ask yourself the following questions when designing a survey: What are you wanting to gain from conducting this survey? What are you want to learn from your employees? How can you use the survey results to make improvements? 

10. Year-End Audit

Lastly, but not least year-end audit or preparation can be a great project for you and your operations team to start working on. But if this sounds like a daunting task, do not fret my friend. You can make a checklist for yourself in order to bring into focus all of the items you need to do now to prepare for the new year or create a list of items you need to wrap up by the end of this year. One easy way to do this is to start looking at what you need to prepare for in January and work backward. For example, January is a time to send out 1099’s and W2’s to either contractors or employees. Be sure that you are already set up for this process now. You can also, look at each area of your business and design a checklist of items that way. (Example: Marketing, Sales, Accounting/Payroll, Human Resources, Operations). What items are going to be needing my attention in the new year? How can I prepare ahead of time? And what items can I delegate, outsource, or set a new deadline to complete? 

There you have it, folks! 10 ways that you can prepare for the holiday season and survive that hectic time of the year. Not only will you feel better about heading into the season, but your staff will too. I am sure after the year we have had, it would be beneficial for us to have less overwhelm during this time, and allocate more space through preparation. I would love to know your thoughts on this topic and what you do with your team to prepare for the holiday season. Share them in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get notifications on the next blog post and to keep posted on upcoming events, workshops, and courses! I would love to stay in touch with you.