Three Steps to Take Care of Your Employees This Holiday Season

By: Kristy Wallace

The holiday season used to be incredibly stressful for me.

I celebrate Christmas, and the week between it and New Year’s — where I was seeing my partner’s family and my family and friends, plus trying to close out the year at work — was overwhelming, to say the least.

My kids were out of school, and I was trying to be intentional and thoughtful and present for them. Yet I was weighed down by closing out projects and following up on emails and Slack messages.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

You can support your employees during the holidays.

Step 1: Use the holidays as a time to acknowledge your employees’ hard work.

Your employees have worked hard all year and are central to your business and its success. So use this time to acknowledge their contributions and how much they mean to you.

Holiday parties can be a fun and festive way of doing this, but there are many other ways to show appreciation. It could be a thoughtful note, a kind gift, or an investment in their career and success — like an Ellevate membership.

Make the time to meet with your direct reports one-on-one to build a sense of community within your workplace. Sure, drinks and dancing are fun (and if you’re going to have an office party, be sure it’s inclusive to those who don’t drink!), but workplace culture is really about injecting support on a person-by-person basis.

Offering validation and recognition during this time can go a long way.

[Related: Plotting a New Course]

Step 2: Build it into your company benefits.

Remember that holidays can be tough for many. It’s an emotional time, and your employees may be lonely or missing loved ones.

Being able to offer support through your insurance plan is crucial here. Do your benefits include mental health support? If so, make sure your employees know about it — and that there’s no shame in using it. If not, reexamine your benefit structure. Mental health is just as important as physical, and your employees deserve to be supported wholly.

With the holiday season comes plenty of additional stress and competing priorities, from gift giving to family visits. So give your employees a bit of leeway. Try shortening work hours or offering flex work solutions to ensure they are not stretched too thin and nearing burnout.

[Related: Pace Yourself This Holiday Season: Tips for Going the Distance]

Step 3: Give them the gift of time off.

This year, Ellevate took the step of announcing a full company closure for the last week of December, stretching from Christmas to New Year’s.

I know what you’re thinking: We can’t close our entire company. We need our employees here. They need to finish the work they’re doing.

I was in the same boat as you. Initially, it was a struggle for me as a leader; I naturally worried about customer service and productivity when weighing the decision. But then I remembered where I was last year — doing internal Zoom calls while wrapping presents. Pulling an endless double duty between the personal and the professional.

While I’m thankful to be in a supportive workplace where my colleagues don’t mind if I’m wrapping presents while talking about monthly financial reports, I realized that making space for all of our employees to focus on their personal needs was the only choice.

I assure you, starting off the New Year with employees that are refreshed, energized, and engaged — not the state I used to be in — is a great way to hit the ground running. It will make your team more productive in the long run.

The holiday season can be overwhelming for many. It’s a time of joy, but also of closing out your goals and projects for the year on top of decorating, gift buying, and visiting family. In the fast-paced world between work and life, the holiday season can feel overlooked.

So take the time to acknowledge your employees’ situations, make sure your benefits support them, and give the gift they really need: time to be and take care of themselves.

[Related: My Time Off Saved Me From Career Exhaustion]

Kristy Wallace is the CEO of Ellevate Network.

Originally published at



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