It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season allows employees the much-needed opportunity to slow down and regroup — and that is never more important than during a pandemic.
As an employer, however, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s bring many challenges in the form of employee illness and decreased productivity.
Add to that “Zoom Fatigue” and a work-from-home situation that can make employees feel like they’re always at the office, and employee morale becomes a bigger concern than ever.
Here are five tips to help keep employees safe, happy, healthy and engaged this holiday season.
1. Reward and recognize great work.
It’s simple but true: recognizing employee contributions is an important step to curb burnout and disengagement. Your first thought may be to offer a monetary incentive, but there are many other ways to show your gratitude. Here are just a few:
- Write each employee a personal holiday card with specific examples of outstanding work.
- Have recurring award ceremonies that celebrate individuals who exemplify your company values and go “above and beyond.”
- Verbalize your confidence in their abilities and acknowledge their accomplishments privately or in small groups.
2. Encourage employees to use their earned PTO.
Between COVID-19 anxiety, family obligations, year-end deadlines and heavy workloads, employees have a lot on their plates. Acknowledging this fact and encouraging them to take their earned paid time off (PTO) is crucial. Because of the pandemic, many people have cancelled vacations and trips, leading to an excess of unused time off — and a recipe for exhaustion. Remind staff of your PTO policies, and lead by example by taking time off yourself.
3. Focus on communication.
Effective and transparent manager communication is essential. Make sure to clearly share year-end goals and expectations, as well as company successes and other important information.
If some (or all) of your workforce is remote, consider using video calls to foster camaraderie. This reminds everyone that they have the support of their managers and colleagues during the holiday season.
4. Get creative with your holiday party.
To maintain a sense of normalcy and show employees they’re appreciated, consider a virtual holiday party in lieu of the typical in-person office get-together.
Some companies are delivering meals to their employees’ door, hosting virtual games (e.g. trivia) or offering virtual classes, such as cooking or mixing cocktails, for their team. Having a virtual party to escape the work grind is good for morale.
5. Promote employee benefits that improve physical and emotional well-being.
Champion healthy activities. This year your employees are facing a cold and flu season amid a pandemic. Encourage healthy habits to reduce sick time. Some initiatives to consider:
- Provide flu shots.
- Support and encourage physical activity, such as offering employees membership to virtual fitness classes.
- Champion CDC-recommended precautions during the holidays, such as social distancing and frequent handwashing.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. In addition to seasonal depression, anxiety and depression resulting from COVID-19 has affected many employees. Show them you care by bolstering mental health services. By supporting your employees’ health and well-being, you can improve productivity and reduce employee turnover.
Even in a good year, the holidays can be stressful, so the time to double down on employee well-being is right now. Virtual mental health is a great place to start with your employee engagement strategy. Download our Virtual Mental Health overview to see how easy it is to deliver your team 24/7 care they will love.