That magical time of year is around the corner; the holidays. It can be a hectic time of year for everyone, managers included. Beyond juggling your own holiday happenings, you become a one-person act for juggling the holiday needs and stress of your entire team. Managing holiday stress, holiday and annual leave, bonuses, all while cultivating a warm holiday environment in the workplace can be a big undertaking, but Front Line Leadership can advise some tips and tricks to make the holidays magical for everyone.
When it comes to the holidays, regardless of the industry, planning ahead is paramount. While businesses allow employees to request time off during the holidays until three – five months in advance, other employers ask their employees to request at the beginning of the year. For industries where working on a holiday is mandatory, employers tend to put a rotating cycle in place to ensure everyone is treated fairly when it comes to having time off during the holidays. Planning in advance and having a limited availability of time off around the holidays can keep business working like clockwork.
Another strategy includes a first-come, first-served approach. The earlier someone requests time off in this approach, the greater likelihood they will get it. Alongside this method comes a cap of the number of people that can be out of the office/off on a specific day.
If possible, employers can allow employees to work from home. Most people these days have a computer or mobile device that can enable them to work remotely. This can be a reasonable way to reduce the need for additional holiday staff while still remaining productive through the holidays. This option isn’t always viable in all workplaces, but as long as an employer has mechanisms in place to verify employees are actually working and being productive, this is a great way to offer employees a reduction in stress, especially considering winter-related road conditions that may otherwise result in a high number of last-minute callouts.
During this giving time of year, employers often tackle the sometimes-sticky topic of bonuses. Year-end bonuses are generally considered performance-related rewards while holiday bonuses are often viewed as gift-giving gratitude and therefore equally given to everyone. Holiday bonuses can come in the form of an added bonus check or as a non-monetary gift such as additional paid time off, company swag, or gift baskets or gift cards to local venues.
Accommodate for Cost
Whichever you choose for your business, make sure you’ve included their cost in your annual budget so that they aren’t a surprise to management. Any monetary bonuses must be reported on an employee’s W-2 form as taxable income to the IRS. Keep in mind, offering PTO in lieu of a bonus check means you also have to report that income despite the employee not having worked the hours. It’s important to understand how holiday gifts or bonuses will be reported. Monetary gifts can be recorded as supplemental income or a discretionary reward. Smaller non-monetary holiday gifts worth less than $100 are typically considered a de minimis fringe benefit and are non-taxable. However, according to the IRS, gift cards or gift certificates are taxable. From a managerial standpoint, determining a holiday bonus type boils down to budget, tax implication, and organization needs.
Don't Forget to Celebrate!
With all the holiday buzz, it’s easy to feel some additional workplace stress and strain, but by keeping the focus on work and scheduling in advance a set time to offer an inclusive celebration can help keep focus where it should be while still offering an enjoyable way to (acknowledge) the holidays. Some companies stick with the more traditional ‘office party,’ while others celebrate with more unique ideas to show employees appreciation such as chair massages, manager made brunches, decorating contests with prizes, etc. Regardless of the industry, there are great ways managers can show their employees appreciation during the holiday season. Be creative and joyful, but still set the expectation that goals still need to be met, and staffing needs are still a priority to finish out the calendar year as a strong team in the organization.
Front Line Leadership Program offers leadership training that teaches balance and leadership skills to managers for any workplace. To get more information on the Front Line Leadership Program, contact Robert Winter at 832-483-5535 or fill out the contact form on our contact page. Impactful strategies for successful leaders start at Front Line.