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This year, the holidays are different from any other that we have had in the past. Many families have been quarantined together all year long, struggling to balance the lines between work and home. Being on calls, virtual meetings, and attending online conferences, while feeding small children and pets is exhausting. Work feels like it is never-ending, and many are struggling with burn out. We all are due for a much-needed time off — to properly be strengthened as individuals, and as a team.
As 2020 ends and 2021 feels uncertain (work circumstances, vaccines, etc.), here are a few ways you can help your teams’ recharge and enter 2021 feeling refreshed and ready to handle any new (or old) challenge that comes.
Incentivizing health and wellness during the holiday season
Balance is the name of the game. Think through the different policies and practices that have been in place this year and evaluate whether those have been working. 2020 has been the year of transition to remote working, and virtual collaboration. Workplace stress along with family/personal responsibilities can cause burn out and fatigue that affects productivity and effectiveness in all areas of life.
As a leader, be willing to be generous and flexible. Take a closer look at your rules and norms and figure out the areas where flexibility is available. See if you can build in additional days off, such as mandatory mental health days. Or for the holidays, ask, can the team spare mandatory blackout periods i.e. no work emails after 5 pm during the months of November and December.
Send out intentional and thoughtful notes to your employees for the end of the year. Acknowledge the struggles and imperfections with the transition and any new policies. Go the distance with a small, handwritten note dropped in the mailbox to your team mates. This will make people feel special and remind them that you are thinking of them.
Provide gifts that encourage relaxation and recharge. For example, gift cards are a great way to deliver options for local massages, nail salons, float tanks. And if these shops are still not open due to COVID restrictions, your team members will have something to look forward to in the future, all the while supporting a local, small business.
In the upcoming months make connection a priority, and aim to conduct a few group activities, such as virtually led meditation workshops or virtual exercise classes. Teams could also hire a therapist and conduct a workshop to discuss tactics to monitor stress and wellness, especially with increased responsibilities around the holidays.
Make wellness a priority for your teams and prepare your people through the message that their well-being is important, and their ability to recharge in the next few months is a top priority. Employers that can do this successfully will reap the benefits of increased commitment and productivity as the new year comes around.
Protecting time and energy
Research has shown that the priorities of younger women and men have changed, as they seek more opportunities for a flexible workplace. In 2021, it’s more likely that we can expect a hybrid solution between in-office and virtual working. The best way to adopt these new norms, and prepare teams is to open the lines of communication and reduce the stigma of having conversations around what a flexible work-life looks like. By hearing the concerns of people and teams, managers can problem-solve on challenges and focus on what is working for the future.
Now that most of the year has passed, take time to ask your employees if they have the proper tools for their home office. Engage, and see how as a company you can support their work environments through stipends for speedy internet, office supplies (paper, pens), and proper furniture (i.e. lumber supported chairs). Offer reimbursements or deals on chairs and tables that could be used in the home.
These upcoming months are also a perfect time for individuals and families to find ways to give back to the community and volunteer. Ask if your teams are interested in volunteering for the holidays and help source virtual or in-person events they can attend. Volunteering has been shown to increase a sense of purpose and fulfillment. You could also volunteer together as a team, to continue to build outside work relationships and connection. For example, our team had recently come together and wrote encouraging messages to seniors online. We were able to give back, while catching up with people on our lives outside of work.
And lastly, take this opportunity to reflect with your teams. Evaluate the office tools that have worked or ones that would be nice to have. This could be anything from virtual conferencing tools to online collaboration services. In addition, evaluate team communication and whether there needs to be changes or if things are working smoothly. Ask how people believe this last year went, and what they expect to happen in 2021. Encourage and support their views and show grace when at all possible. 2020 has been difficult, and this holiday is a great time to take time to breathe and recharge together.
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