Why leaders must focus on their people this holiday season

Why leaders must focus on their people this holiday season

This holiday season, you might be hyper-focused on the logistics and workforce management side of your business. Will you have enough staff for peak demand? How will you manage office closures? Will your projects finish by their deadlines?

Among all these priorities, it is important to keep something else at the top of your list: your people.

The holiday season is a busy time in your team’s personal lives. They might also be stressed about the coming weeks as they wrap up work to take time off, prepare gifts for friends and family and make travel plans. Not to mention that the last few years have pushed many of us to our limits, and burnout across Australia has increased.

So, this holiday season, I recommend focusing on people initiatives to ensure that your team returns in the new year feeling refreshed.

Recognise your team’s hard work

Recognising your team’s hard work as the year closes is essential. You might take a moment to address the collective successes and what you have achieved this year; you could also take time to recognise top performers. Taking time out of a busy schedule to show appreciation is integral to building a positive team dynamic and fostering an environment of respect.

Recognising the hard work that your team puts in will have a lasting impact on both individuals and the company as a whole. It sends a message that their contributions are valued, which can increase job satisfaction and motivation. Recognition can also help to build trust and goodwill between team members, which is essential for creating a productive working environment.

Moreover, recognising your team’s hard work helps foster a feeling of collective success. When each team member knows their efforts are appreciated, it creates a sense of pride in contributing towards shared goals, leading to improved motivation and commitment to their work.

Get your team together and encourage connection

The holiday season is not just a time for celebrating with family and friends; it should also be a time to celebrate with colleagues.  Many of us will be bringing our teams together to foster better relationships and build overall morale; now that remote work has become routine for many of us, in-person events like these are significant.

Planning activities such as team-building events, potluck lunches or Secret Santa are excellent ways to build camaraderie between colleagues while celebrating the holidays.  These activities can be as straightforward or as elaborate as desired but should include some entertainment and/or activity accessible and inclusive of everyone. By planning meaningful events before the holiday season, you can ensure a stronger sense of unity and increase morale.

Remind your team to unplug

Remind your team of the importance of taking a break from work; remind them that it is okay to turn off email, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom or any company communications. Doing so is not only crucial for mental well-being, but it also helps prevent burnout. Taking a break from work-related activities can allow employees to relax and refresh before returning to work.

If you need to stay connected with your team during the holidays, ensure to set clear expectations and boundaries around what you expect of the team. For example, let them know you will contact them only during emergencies.

Communicate your policies around time off

Ensure that your team understands the importance of taking time off to recharge and reconnect with family and friends during this time of the year. I recommend that you remind people of their leave allowances and the company policies for time off and even encourage people to take leave – especially if they have not done so in a while and have accumulated annual leave.

You should also reinforce the company’s policies regarding holiday time off and encourage people to take advantage of them. Explain why taking a break is essential for their physical and mental health and how it can benefit them personally and professionally. Make sure to communicate policy requirements in advance so that team members can plan their time off accordingly.

Ensure people have the right support in this busy time

The holiday season should be a time of joy and celebration, but it can quickly become overwhelming if staff don’t have the right support. As a leader, it is vital to ensure people have the resources and support to get projects completed and finish their year on a high note.

Here are some tips on minimising stress and ensuring everyone has the support they need:

  1. Prioritise: Ensure your team is clear on their priorities by setting up a manageable workload and encouraging them to focus on what’s most important first.
  2. Establish deadlines: Set realistic expectations and ensure everyone is aware of potential time pressures to stay on track. Encouraging your team to manage their time effectively will help them work more efficiently and reduce stress.  
  3. Provide resources: Make sure staff have access to the right resources and materials to complete their tasks promptly. This could include access to additional help, training or other support services to ensure that your team are well informed and prepared for the upcoming period. 
  4. Create an open dialogue: Encourage conversations between staff members to foster collaboration and understanding of workload, deadlines and expectations. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page and can work together more effectively.

As we wrap up this year, it is imperative to focus on the human element of your workforce. So, how are you looking after your team this holiday season?

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