This year has been a tough one for nearly everyone on the planet, but it has proved especially hard for employees working from home while also dealing with social isolation, endless video calls, and in some cases, home-schooling and child care without assistance.
Now adding to this stress is growing COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations around the country, right in time for the holidays. The increased pressure to stay apart during a time of year when many people crave togetherness is a crushing upset after an already difficult year.
So how can you support your team through this moment? Here are four suggestions to make this holiday season a little brighter and easier, for you and for them.
Encourage Paid Time Off Usage
Many of our clients are facing huge PTO balances, as most employees use this time for travel, vacations and holidays that have not happened this year. Encourage your employees to take some time off to relax and recreate, or consider closing your office between the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. Using their time off will reduce your potential PTO liabilities, and help them come back to work refreshed.
Give Year-End Bonuses & Gifts Early
Many of our clients often give their employees gifts or bonuses at year-end to celebrate the work that they have done in the year. If you are considering this practice, we want to encourage you to consider giving these gifts early this year, perhaps around Thanksgiving. With many employees and their families having a tough year, giving your gift early will likely allow them to celebrate holidays in a way that is more meaningful to them. In the same vein, if possible for you, a cash bonus or gift card will likely be much more appreciated than a physical gift.
Spread Holiday Cheer
Even though it’s not safe to gather for a holiday party, you can still gather and create meaningful experiences for your employees. There are remote party and experience companies that provide team-building opportunities even while working from home, such as this hosted remote holiday party service, or this remote escape room experience. For a simpler but less formal remote party, send each of your employees some chocolate (here’s our favorite small business chocolatier to support) or champagne, and host a virtual happy hour where employees can bring their partners or children to celebrate with their team. A little bit of holiday cheer and effort will go a long way.
Kindness, And Then More Kindness
This extraordinary year has been a tough one for the mental and physical health of nearly everyone on the planet. It’s likely that some of your teams will be stressed, reactive, tired and frustrated over the next several weeks. Whenever possible (and trust us, we know some days it’s SUPER hard), we want to encourage you to engage with your struggling team members with kindness, and then more kindness. We get through these moments better when we can do it together.