Workplace Fun Can Chase Away
by Ann Fry
Holiday stress and holiday blues are such well-known terms now that they should probably be in the dictionary but aren't.
They are, however, in the professional books of mental health practitioners. After all, from Oct. 31 to Jan. 2 is the busiest, most demanding time of our year. We also know that people can get seriously depressed and stressed during this two-month season. We know these are universal feelings.
So what does this have to do with work? Well, how many people do you know who truly leave their feelings at home and don't bring them into the workplace? Not too many. If it's a given that people are stressed out about holidays, what can be done at work to make it easier - and more fun?
Let's begin with appointing a holiday committee. This committee will oversee all activities, from Halloween through New Year's Day. What are some things the committee will take on?
First, office decorations.
Let's allow each department to create its own theme or decorating idea. The committee can oversee it, including a budget. Perhaps an afternoon can be allotted to the group to design, shop and decorate.
Remember, there are receptionists' areas that customers see but also cubicles, hallways, bathrooms and, most importantly, the break room. Let the environment be tasteful, yet celebratory.
Begin with Halloween, then move to Thanksgiving and fall décor. At the beginning of December, move to Christmas as well as holidays of other faiths and cultures. Make sure there's a diversity of members on the committee to cover all the best options.
Second, the office parties.
How can the parties be made different? If you have a set way of throwing a party, why not consider having it someplace different - such as away from the office or at a different hotel or venue?
Do you have just one holiday celebration or more?
What about wearing costumes or holiday garb to work?
Is your party just for employees or for their family members as well?
How about going to a comedy club or hiring a comedy group?
What about a Thanksgiving meal at work?
How about creating a meal for the homeless or some other type of charitable meal that includes people other than just your employees and their families? The money you spend here will go miles toward boosting employee morale and, thus, your company's bottom line.
How are children of employees involved in the holiday celebrations? Children are out of school for at least two weeks during December, so how can the workplace work to assist parents in their needs to accommodate for that? Is there special day care or parties for kids? Are there people who can take kids shopping to get gifts for their parents? How about field trips?
Such activities will eliminate much of the stress that employees feel and, therefore, free them up to work more efficiently.
Third, what special perks are afforded?
What kind of special time off is there for busy people to go shopping, to prepare special meals, to travel during this time? Not everyone has the luxury of a school schedule; most companies close only a day or two during holidays.
Yet the demands of the season mean people need more. How are you compensating for that? Do you give them shopping days or even half-days? Do you give gifts to employees that are frivolous and fun, such as coupons they can cash in for time?
Fourth, do something outrageous.
Do something unusual and outrageous each day. If you're not sure what to do, consult a child. Find ways to tickle your funny bone with cartoons, jokes, songs, stories, movies or even some good-natured clowning around. Invite your co-workers, family and friends to join you. Make it a point to look for the humor in all your holiday dilemmas.
Which fun and energizing strategies would help to increase the positive holiday feelings and minimize the negative holiday stress? How and when could you use them?
The focus here is to consider how the holiday season affects individuals - all of them. Remember, for some it's a lonely and sad time. How can you make it better? For others, it's a happy time, yet extremely busy and demanding. How can you make it easier?
This is the time of year to truly cater to the needs of your people in the most humanitarian and caring way. What better way than to make it truly memorable and fun