It’s beginning to look a lot like . . . burnout.
Forget holiday cheer with your co-workers this year, we’re all just looking to make it through another day of endless Zoom calls, toddlers crawling up our legs and lengthy hold times when we call the IT help desk.
But what if it doesn’t have to be that way? The good news: It doesn’t. Some savvy planning and a little thoughtfulness goes a long way. That’s why we tapped career counselors and executive coaches on how to boost team spirit during the holiday season. Ready to master ye olde Yuletide shuffle?
Don’t be a jerk
But really, though. We mean it.
“This time of year is stressful for a lot of people, especially in the given climate,” said certified professional career coach Jackie Mitchell. “Go out of your way to show gratitude for the work your team has done all year.”
Right now, it’s more important than ever to exude kindness and patience. “Be flexible with people and understand that they do have personal lives,” she said.
Take a virtual class with your team or company
Zoom happy hours with your former cube mates got old, oh, seven months ago. So, rather than hosting a “traditional” virtual Christmas party where everyone raises a glass, stares into a video mosaic abyss and dresses professionally from the waist up, plan a holiday event that they will actually get something out of.
If you’re in a managerial role: “Hire an instructor and send all materials ahead of time to everyone’s homes,” said Lauren Cohen, an executive and career coach. “Some options include painting, crafts or cooking and there are numerous other creative options.”
Be sure to plan the event during work hours so your employees consider it a fun treat versus something stressful they have to attend during precious downtime.
Higher ups: Give everyone an extra personal day
Speaking of precious time off, now’s the time to surprise your cohorts with extra paid time off to express your gratitude during this supremely difficult time.
“A great way to celebrate this is to send everyone a journal in advance with a thank you note,” said Cohen. “Include some information about the benefits of journaling as a way to demonstrate care for their emotional well-being. A simple gesture like this can improve employee morale and foster improved relationships with colleagues.”
Or, channel our friends over the pond who frequently give employees a day off around the holidays to knock off gift shopping, get ahead on holiday meal prep and decorate their homes. Remote schooling for kiddos, caring for isolated elderly family members and pandemic-related stress, means folks will feel more grateful if you tell them to sign off Slack and deck their halls.
Forget the meeting and have the team let their hair down
A little team bonding goes a long way. “Break your team up in groups and play ice breaker games to get to know everyone better,” said Mitchell. “People love to talk about themselves and what they’re good at.”
If you want to take things up a notch, have a virtual talent show and “come together at the end of the day and have each member talk about what they learned about their teammates.”
If this proves successful, you may want to set aside a day each week and schedule informal lectures, games or a digital “lounge” for casual discussion in lieu of the regular office grind.
Donate to charity together
With so many struggling in the pandemic, there’s no shortage of worthy causes to donate to right now. If you’re in a position of power, start a fund-raiser for an organization that resonates with your company’s mission or is local to your workplace.
Work with corporate or HR to institute some kind of employer match or volunteer out of your own pocket to match employee contributions up to a certain amount.
Leadership can also get creative with this one.
“Increase employee engagement and job satisfaction by encouraging each employee to film and post a short video on their social-media channels about a cause they care about,” suggested Cohen. “Share these videos on your company’s pages too. Once they post, donate $75 [or another designated amount] in their name to the nonprofit of their choice.”
Send some snail mail
“This year looks different but there is no reason that traditions have to all fall by the wayside,” said Cohen. “Send personalized treats, cards and small gifts to [the homes of everyone who reports to you] so they feel special and recognized,” she said, noting that it’s important for bosses to take time to send a heartfelt note or schedule a call with everyone on their team.
You might also mail a handwritten holiday card to your boss — it makes a big impression — and if you can afford it, include a small gift like a book on a topic they’re passionate about or a wall calendar themed around their favorite sports team, hometown or a band they love.
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