The holiday season is a mixture of joy and stress for many of your employees and often the first few weeks of the new year are extra tough, especially at work. As an HR professional, who has completed a human resources program, it is your duty to help your employees get over their post-holiday blues and boost morale in the workplace! But how can you do that in a work-appropriate manner? Read on to learn some strategies and ideas to try out in your organization.
Promote work-life balance among employees
A work-life balance is extremely important all the time, but crucial after a holiday season where some of your employees will feel refreshed and productive possibly putting in longer hours than normal or you have employees that are super stressed and pushing themselves too hard just to try and get their normal work done. Neither of these extremes are beneficial to the company or the employee. Offset these actions through offering flexible and remote working options; encouraging breaks; making a rule about no emails after a certain hour to discourage over-working; encouraging managers to focus on productivity rather than hours and asking your employees for ideas and feedback. Be sure to recognize that every employee is different and unique, not everyone will respond the same way. To gain a better understanding of how each employee is unique, participate in some diversity and inclusion training to ensure that all your employees feel safe and supported.
Go beyond “My door is always open”
Every hear about all the lonely university professors because no one comes to their office hours even though many students would benefit from talking to their prof? The same principle applies to an open-door policy, just saying it does not work and people are not likely to go to you easily with concerns or feedback. Marissa Letendre, an independent human resources consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, suggests something called stay interviews. A stay interview is a one-on-one interview between a manager and a valued employee to learn what makes employees want to keep working for you. Letendre often starts with “What keeps you here?” and “If you had a magic wand, what would you change?” She says the changes employees crave are often inexpensive and achievable, like more engaged and effective leadership, or the ability to have an impact and a voice. The skills learned from a change management certification will help you initiate the changes employees want.
Help them accomplish a New Year’s resolution
We know that the majority of New Year’s resolutions are wellness and health-related, from exercising more to eating better or some other sort of personal development. So, why not help your team accomplish this type of resolution by incorporating healthy practices into your workplace environment. For workers in the office, provide free health snack options in the breakroom or opt for a healthier restaurant when ordering food in on those Friday lunches. Have remote workers? Offer a subscription to a wellness app like Calm or a fitness app like Sweat or IFit. And in those weekly staff meetings, have a moment of celebration where everyone can share a small non-work celebration creating accountability and appreciation for all your employees.
Talk directly about mental health
It is especially imperative for leaders or higher-ups to talk about mental health. Start by having a thoughtful and deliberate conversation with employees about the importance of work-life balance, checking in with colleagues, and asking for help when someone needs it. This will help your employees gain confidence in you and your organization and feel supported, valued, and safe. Next, you can involve an external mental health expert to facilitate open discussion and provide information and support on the various emotions that employees experience during a pandemic and holidays. Encourage employees to communicate with one another and do not get upset about employees when they are conversing positively about non-work-related topics. You never know that could be their only positive interaction of the day, and to get angry over it does not help anyone. Do not dismiss people that are feeling down or need some extra help or time off, that only perpetuates the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
Lead by example
The best thing you can do is lead by example, even if you are feeling the holiday blues. Some things you can do to motivate your employees is to try your hardest to keep your word and deliver what you have promised; hold yourself accountable for your actions as not everything you try will be successful; create solutions to the problems your employees bring to you and be sure to practice what you preach. Not all your employees will appreciate what you are trying to do, this is where your conflict resolution certificate or mediation certificate can come in handy to help with those difficult conversations. People’s patience may be shorter than normal, and conflict may occur both between employees as well as between you and employees.
Remember that the holidays can bring a whirlwind of emotions like excitement and anxiety. So, returning to the usual routine is inevitably going to dampen some spirits. Be personable, approachable, and positive with your employees, it is more beneficial than you know.