Workplace Culture

Keeping Harmony Around the Holidays

By Rick Bell

Nov. 21, 2014

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

The holidays may indeed be a season of magic and wonder, but it is also the time when employees brace for often-awkward office parties and focus on work drifts as they prepare for family, friends and feasts.

Employers and managers can make the holiday season a bit less stressful for their charges by following several simple guidelines, according to workplace consultant Anne Grady, the author of “52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work.”

The holidays are stressful, but it’s often not possible to let work slow down near the holidays, said Grady, whose clients include Omni Hotels and Resorts, the Oklahoma Human Services Department and the Texas Association of School Boards. “Depending on the business or industry, try to do little things to let your employees know you care.”

Provide incentives for good work, like time off, flexible work hours or the ability to work from home.

“As long as you’re getting the results you want, let your employees determine how they can best reach their goals,” Grady said.

Also, make expectations clear. How many hours are expected of employees to work? Can they leave early or come in late if their deadlines are met?

“Frustration doesn’t come from having too much to do; it comes from unclear expectations,” she said. “Make sure you and your team are on the same page when defining success. As long as they are meeting their requirements, give them the autonomy to do their work their way.”

The holidays bring enough stress, Grady said. Don’t add more by having unrealistic expectations.

“During the holidays, it’s more important than ever to show your employees you appreciate them and all that they do. Your appreciation is the best gift you can give your team.”

Rick Bell is Workforce’s editorial director. For comments or questions email

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