Christmas music has been playing since October and the frenzied feeling of December is in full swing. Although this is the happiest time of the year for many, it can also be the busiest in business. For many business owners, December is the month for budgeting, closing out the year, paying bonuses, hosting holiday parties and accommodating employees’ vacation schedules. During this busy time, owners and managers need to be especially conscious of maintaining their HR processes.
Here are a few hints to help you get through the holidays:
Be respectful of all people during this time. While you may celebrate Christmas, you most likely employ someone who celebrates Hanukkah or does not celebrate a holiday at all. Avoid practices that may discriminate or that may appear hostile. Most people enjoy the holiday season, regardless of their faith, but as management, it is important to be the leader and practice tolerance.
Plan your holiday party with some forethought to limit liability. Keep excessive drinking, sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in check by re-communicating the company policies prior to the event. Have someone monitor consumption and serve plenty of food at the party. Consider arranging transportation. Also, parties should be voluntary but if participation is mandatory, wages may need to be paid.
Manage employee productivity. The holidays are an easy time to get distracted. Between extra food in the breakroom and the lure of online shopping, employees may not be 100% focused on their job. Keep employees on task through communication and appreciation. Also, as a leader, it is important to serve as an example. Don’t hit the mall at noon each day and expect your employees to be fully engaged.
Pre-plan for vacation times and make sure that every job is covered. December is one of the most popular times for employee vacations. With multiple employees off at the same time, stress levels will rise and work can suffer. Time off should be granted on a first-come, first-served basis, but if a decision needs to be made between two employees, consider seniority and job function. Communicate expectations and plan for a decreased job force.
Be on the lookout for any depression and remind employees of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), if available. Although the holidays are a cheerful time, some employees may experience more stress and anxiety.
Consider HR consultation. As you look forward to the New Year and reflect on 2016, think about your HR processes and how they can be improved. Ever-changing regulations make it difficult to stay on top of federal, state and local laws while simultaneously running your business, and non-compliance can be extremely costly. Hiring an HR consultant can ultimately save you money and help create a better work environment for your employees.
Lee Yarborough and her father, Braxton Cutchin, founded the company in 1996. She has served on the Board of Directors of NAPEO and currently serves as the Chair for the NAPEO Carolinas Leadership Council. In 2015, she was named a Fellow of the eleventh class of the Liberty Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Lee also serves on the Executive Board of Public Education Partners and is the founder and director of Read Up Greenville, a young adult and middle grades book festival in downtown Greenville, SC.