For many people, holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fourth of July mean a break from work and time spent relaxing with family and friends. However, many professions involve working through the holiday seasons, which can be demoralizing and demotivating for staff.
There are six paid days off per year for many U.S workers, but recent research shows that not all employees enjoy this benefit — 40% of companies require workers to come in on Memorial Day. People working in technical, security, and public safety roles are most likely to be called in for holiday shifts. For some organizations, there must be at least a skeletal staff at all times of the year, for example, in hospitals and fire stations, so holiday working is unavoidable.
However, there are plenty of fun ways that managers and business owners can add a little holiday spirit to the workplace and keep staff morale high.
Allow Staff to Decorate the Workplace
Even if your team has to work the holidays, they don’t need to miss out completely. Adding seasonal decorations in the workplace can boost morale and make people feel part of the holiday. Avoid assigning this task to one or two people to complete after hours. Instead, involve all your employees in the process of planning, purchasing, and putting up the decorations. It’s a great team-building activity and injects a healthy dose of fun into the workday. You could even set up a competition to find the “best-dressed department” or the “most eco-friendly decorations.”
It’s important to consider the appropriateness of decorations in your line of business. But for most organizations, seasonal decorations will create a more positive and enjoyable environment for staff and customers. Few people want to be in a hospital on the holidays, just as few people want to work them, so creating a festive atmosphere can be beneficial to everyone.
Set a Charity Fundraising Challenge
Another great way to get your team working together is to set a charity fundraising challenge. Choose a charity that is meaningful to employees by taking a vote. Encourage your team to come up with a series of small activities to complete — for example, an “ugliest Christmas jumper” competition. Activities like these will keep staff motivated throughout the holiday season without detracting significantly from work.
If your employees are committed to the cause, consider signing up for a local fun run or charity quiz night to boost funds and provide a holiday social event outside of the workplace.
Allow Employees to Wear Seasonal Clothing
There’s a costume or theme for most holidays — elves at Christmas, stars, and stripes on the Fourth of July. Set aside a day that fits with the work schedule and invite employees to dress up in seasonal clothing. Ask people to donate a few dollars to boost your charity fundraising or set a competition with a small prize for the best costume.
In some organizations, workers are required to wear specific clothing for safety and hygiene purposes. However, there is generally an option for a degree of dressing up, even if only in a Christmas hat. For example, medical staff in hospitals are often required to wear scrubs. However, there is a wide range of seasonal and holiday nursing scrubs to choose from.
Play Holiday Music
Listening to upbeat music can make people happier, and happier employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees. You don’t have to play the same holiday songs on a loop non-stop — that’s a sure-fire way to drive everybody crazy! Use a tool like Survey Monkey to find out the most popular music to play, or give each employee an hour to choose the tunes.
If the nature of your business makes holiday music inappropriate or difficult to implement, set certain times when music can be played, or allow staff to listen to personal music devices.
Organize a Holiday Finger Buffet
What’s a holiday without holiday food? Choose a lunchtime to invite staff to bring in contributions to a finger buffet. Create a list and ask people to add the food or dish they plan to bring. This will avoid you ending up with a table full of desserts and no sandwiches. A cold food buffet is a great choice as it allows employees to join in when their shifts allow if everyone can’t take a lunch break at the same time.
There are lots of fun ideas for creating a fun party atmosphere. Decorate the table and the room, provide part favors, play music, set up competitions, or run a trivia quiz. Combine this event with a dress-up day or use it to raise more funds for a chosen charity. The possibilities are endless.
Working the Holidays Does Not Have to Mean Missing out on All the Fun
If you’re a manager or business owner with staff who will be working this holiday, take a little time to add some holiday spirit to the workplace. It may take some effort and a little money, but it will mean a happier, more productive workforce who feel valued by the company and motivated to perform at their very best.