I've often heard that therapists get more calls in the month of December than the rest of year as the holidays can be a particularly stressful time of year. Not only is life on the home front chaotic, but work can also be stressful as employees try to close out the year with a bang.
Many companies are able to relieve some of the work-related stress by rewarding employees with holiday parties, raises or bonuses. For those companies that do not have the financial resources to do so or are looking for other ways to show employees that they are appreciated, here are some suggestions for managers and C-Suite leaders:
1) Walk around the office and say thank you to each and every employee. Telling employees that you value their contribution and are looking forward to a successful 2015 will go a long way in making employees feel appreciated. Being present helps managers keep tabs on the climate of the organization and when employees feel like they have access to the higher-ups they tend to be happier. If your company is too big to make the rounds, you can send a short, personalized email.
2) Go out of your way to say "Bravo, you did a good job" to an unsuspecting employee. Everyone appreciates a pat on the back sometimes and one of the best ways to boost morale -- and reduce stress -- is to let your employees know that they are doing a good job.
3) Make a point to let people know where they fit in within the organization and why their role is important. I heard a story about a woman who worked at an aerospace company and didn't realize until she heard her boss introducing her to someone else that the project she was working on was part of a larger effort to improve the safety lighting on the floor of an airplane. Once she understood the broader purpose and context of her job and that it was connected to an important mission, she was more engaged and happier at work.
4) Be compassionate. Everyday employees come to work with something on their mind -- some worry, fear or personal issue they are dealing with. For some people work is a relief from their personal issues, but that work needs to be meaningful and employees need to be productive. Managers should keep that in mind and do their best to make employees feel valued and cared about.
Many people believe that money talks. While financial compensation makes people feel good for about a month or two, it does not really motivate people or increase satisfaction. What matters to most are the simple things -- saying thank you (maybe it's hand-written note or thoughtful email) or giving someone a few extra hours off of work at the end of a busy week.
Remember a happy worker works harder. Promoting emotional happiness in the workplace is a great way to spread cheer this holiday season and all throughout the year.
Dr. Bernice Ledbetter is Practitioner Faculty of Organizational Theory and Management at Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management. Her research and teaching interests focus on leadership and values, especially gender differences, as well as on moral developmental and non-western approaches to leadership. She is a Principal in Ledbetter Consulting Group and has worked extensively as a career management consultant and team performance coach for individuals and major organizations.