Blog Articles

HR's Guide to Navigating Holiday Season 2021

Tips to close this year out on a high note

Nikhil Bendre

by Nikhil Bendre - October 26th, 2021


The best time of the year is fast approaching and we couldn’t be more excited! Holiday season is right around the corner. However, we need to take a moment and think this quarter through from a managerial perspective to ensure that our organizations are still functioning at full efficiency amidst the additional commitments that will undoubtedly be brought about by these festive times. To formulate the best plan that we possibly can, we first need to understand the general atmosphere of the workforce this year and how it compares to that of last year. The common factor between the two is fairly obvious - the pandemic. The difference, though, is that many more places are open again and back to their pre-COVID operations, while last year, practically everything was shut down as COVID rates continued to surge. Similarly, lots of businesses today have their employees back in-person or at least working in a hybrid capacity, but many organizations are still remote. That being said, how can we adequately navigate our operations during the holidays? The answer depends on the specifics of your organization’s structure. Let’s take a look at some tips to close this year out on a high note!

This is a time where organizational leaders need to be mindful and respectful of any familial and social obligations that employees may have. If your team is working hard to fulfill your company’s goals, meet them halfway by giving them time to be with their loved ones. The key to fulfilling this is maximizing efficiency and cutting out any tasks that may be unnecessarily time-consuming. 

1. Less Meetings, More Emails

We all know the feeling when the content of a meeting could most definitely have been conveyed just as effectively, if not more, as an email. Be able to make that distinction to save your team some valuable time.

During this time of year, managers have to deal with juggling team members who may be overlapping their PTO. The art of balancing your team being in and out of the office is crucial to the success of your operation! 

2. Emphasize the Importance of the Team

Communicate to your employees that flexibility is key. Knowing that people will be in and out of the office and their normal availability, let your team know that working together to compensate for those missing people is of the utmost importance. If your team can support the sporadic absences, you should have nothing to worry about!

Understand that the holidays look different for everyone! People from different backgrounds may celebrate different holidays. It’s important to be aware and culturally sensitive of these holidays, as well as flexible with scheduling holidays that may not align with the typical American work calendar. On the other hand, understand that not everyone celebrates the holidays that most Americans are accustomed to, such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Xmas.

3. Be Culturally Sensitive

Holidays such as Diwali and Asara B’Tevet fall into this festive, end-of-year window alongside many of the American federal holidays. Take it upon yourself to get educated on the significance of these events and how they impact the members of your team. The key to cultural sensitivity is to not make assumptions! Unless someone has explicitly told you they celebrate a certain holiday, don’t assume that they do. Keep holiday wishes and sentiments general until you know otherwise.

That being said, what’s the best way to actually celebrate this season with your team? Keeping in mind that the workforce is currently in a sort of hybrid mode, let’s check out some ideas that apply to the current state of our businesses.

Our article on How to Plan a Company Holiday Party During COVID-19 has some great insights on how we celebrated the holidays last year. The key takeaways are that we considered doing a socially distanced, in-person party, an online Zoom event, or just skipping the gathering all together and celebrating by sending our teams tokens of appreciation instead. Check out this resource and see if any of those options work for your organization!

In addition to the widely popular routes of corporate holiday parties and team gift-giving, some new ideas for the 2021 holiday season can include the following:

4. End of the Year Wind Down

Instead of the typical holiday party, treat your team to a spa treatment to help them relax and close out what we’re sure was an exhausting work year! Check out the SPArties option from Bliss Day Spa and see if it’s a good option for your team. Contact them for a custom quote!

5. Office Decorating Party

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the time we spend decorating! We don’t have to limit the joy of this activity to our own homes. Get some hot cocoa, compile your decorations, and jazz up the office for the festive season with your team! 

6. Holiday Movie Night

This is a great option that could work both in-person and remotely. If in-person is the option for you, gather your team, get the snacks ready, and have a marathon of your favorite holiday movies! If you’d feel more comfortable staying isolated, either screen-share a movie on Zoom or consider utilizing a browser extension, such as Teleparty, to watch a movie on Netflix and have it synced up to each individual computer!

All in all, we need to remember that this long awaited part of the year is about friends, family, and joy. As managers, ensuring that your employees feel that they have the appropriate space to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones, however that may look for them, goes a long way for both your relationship with your team and their experience at your organization. At GoCo, we emphasize a people-centered approach to management and leadership, and the holidays are no exception. Hopefully, the topics we’ve discussed will give you some direction as the holidays get closer. 

From your friends at GoCo - Happy Holidays!

Subscribe to Beyond The Desk to get insights, important dates, and a healthy dose of HR fun straight to your inbox.

Subscribe here

Improve the employee experience by streamlining onboarding, benefits, payroll, and more.