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The holidays are a time of year that can be tricky to navigate. Personal effectiveness at work may decrease with all of the outside responsibilities and distractions that the holidays bring. This is especially true for employees who already have difficulty maintaining work-life balance. If you are a manager, the time to start planning for the holiday season is early in the fall in order to avoid potential conflicts.

Handling the Holidays in the Office

First of all, don’t make the assumption that everyone in your office is a Christian or celebrates Christmas. And even if everyone in your office does celebrate Christmas, the holiday season can be a painful time of year for some people, so it is best not to give too much focus to the holidays at work. At the same time, it is good to give flexibility to employees trying to find work life balance and celebrate with their families during the holiday season.

Taking Time Off

A few months in advance, discuss holiday time off with each employee. Some employees may celebrate holidays from a variety of cultural or religious traditions that fall at a different time from Christmas, so the problem of too many employees wanting to take the day off may not be an issue. Honor their request for time off at different times in exchange for their presence in the office around Thanksgiving and Christmas. If possible, close the office on the days most employees want off, or figure out a way to operate on a skeleton crew.

Another strategy is to operate on a system of tradeoffs – employees can either take Christmas Day off or New Year’s Eve off. Some employees actually prefer to catch up on work during the holiday quiet and celebrate with their family when everyone else is back in the office (and plane fares are less expensive).

Regardless of what strategy you use, it is important to give employees the flexibility to take time off and make advance plans to spend time with their families in order to maintain their work-life balance.

Planning a Holiday Party

An office holiday party can be a nice way to put personal effectiveness aside and build community amongst your staff and their families. It can also be expensive and problematic if your employees cannot maintain a somewhat professional presence in the face of spiked holiday punch. You may wish to poll your employees. The holidays are a busy and expensive time of year, and your group may prefer to forgo the formal festivities in exchange for a small holiday bonus.

How do you navigate holiday challenges in your workplace?


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