The holiday season is a time for celebrating with friends and family. But in the office, it can be a bit stressful when trying to navigate time-off requests, diverse religious/ethnic backgrounds and beliefs, and the always controversial office holiday party and gift-giving.
The holiday season is also a very busy time of year. In addition to personal demands on one’s time, there are often important projects and deadlines to meet before year-end. In this seasonal scramble, having effective corporate policies in place can help reduce confusion and alleviate some of the pressure.
Here are four tips to keep in mind when thinking about your corporate holiday policies.
1. Aim for fairness when negotiating PTO time
Don’t be surprised if every employee at your company wants time-off throughout the month of December. The unfortunate reality is that there is still work that needs to be done. Creating a holiday time-off policy that is centered on fairness and empathy can help you avoid any bad feelings.
Using a first-come, first-served approach has become the go-to method for many organizations dealing with this sticky situation. This helps employers plan ahead for coverage, while acknowledging that some workers may still have to work on the days surrounding the holidays to keep the business functioning.
Another option some companies have is to shut down operations for a couple of days. While not feasible for every organization, it can prevent a lot of stress and resentment.
2. Acknowledge the diversity of beliefs
Your office should be a place where people of various belief systems and religions can feel comfortable – not to mention, anti-discrimination laws protect this right. Make your holiday parties non-denominational and use secular decorations to add some festive flair to the office. Note that while an employer cannot put up decorations with overt religious connotations, employees are free to decorate their work space according to their personal beliefs.
3. Be careful about giving gifts
When it comes to gift-giving in the office, it pays to make a list and check it twice – or maybe even three times for good measure. Gifts should be appropriate, both in item and price.
“Give clients, employees and colleagues gifts in line with your organization’s values and standards, and keep in mind that what you give directly reflects your judgment and professionalism,” said Stephen Paskoff, CEO of workplace learning company ELI, in an interview with SungardAS through Forbes BrandVoice.
If you want to recognize employees for their good work, recognize all of them to avoid hard feelings. Do your best to make gifts personal and heartfelt – no one wants to feel like they’re receiving a cookie-cutter present. Even a handwritten thank-you note can make a big impact.
4. Throw safe parties
Unfortunately, the corporate holiday party can be prime breeding ground for HR problems. Help make sure everyone stays safe by reminding employees that the office code of conduct also applies at the event. It’s also a smart idea to limit the time that employees can buy drinks, and even hold the party off-site so that professional bartenders, who can better recognize when someone has been drinking too much, can be responsible for serving the drinks.
Be safe. Be smart. Have fun. Happy Holidays from all of us at PeopleStrategy!