In normal circumstances you might be planning for the Christmas party, or thinking about bonuses. However, this year has been anything but normal. Although the ordinary festive celebrations may be off the table for businesses this year, it is an opportunity to think about how you’re supporting your employees during this period.
How’s the relationship between employees and your business?
The first thing for businesses to reflect on is the relationship between your employees and your business. Have they been working from home for the majority of the year, or working in an office? Have there been opportunities for them to socialise, or has everyone fallen out of contact? Have there been redundancies, or a large amount of your staff on furlough? All of these factors will affect how employees are currently feeling towards work and your business.
If the past year has been stressful and uncertain for your business, your employees may be feeling disconnected and even undervalued. In this case, the most important way for you to support your employees during Christmas is to tell them that they are valued. Praise their achievements, and thank them for their hard work personally. Express an interest, and validate the time and effort they are putting in.
Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to your business. If your business is struggling and the outlook for next year doesn’t look good, communicate this to your employees. It’s likely that without this information your staff will fill in the blanks, and misinformation could get around the office (real or virtual!).
Part of valuing your employees is being honest with them about the state of your business. Without an open discussion, you're likely to leave your staff stressed and panicked over the festive period. Communicate openly, tell them the plan for 2021, and you’ll prevent people guessing themselves.
Don’t disregard mental health
If you do have an office that your employees are working from, it’s likely that you’ve taken steps to ensure it is covid safe. Prioritising the physical health of your staff has been vital for operations to continue, and prioritising their mental health is just as important. Depression has nearly doubled in adults this last year, and mental illness has a huge impact on your employees and your business.
Make space for talking about your employees’ mental health, particularly if you’ve noticed they’ve been quiet or reclusive over the last few months. This is especially important for those who are working from home, where those who aren’t coping well with the pandemic may go unnoticed. Be compassionate and empathetic towards your staff who are struggling, and know where to refer them on for additional support.
If in doubt, ask
The people who best understand the help employees need at Christmas are the employees themselves. Ask how your business can best support them during the festive period; they may have ideas of their own. It might be that flexible working hours could take the edge off, or December’s pay coming a little bit earlier than usual.
Equally, be open to criticism that they have. Be curious, rather than feeling defensive about the feedback that your employees have for you. Your staff may have noticed something that you have missed about the running of your business, and it could pave the way for improvement.
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