Small business owners may feel at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to extending gestures of appreciation to their employees. Budgets are tight and employee productivity genuinely matters to their bottom lines.
Thankfully, employees of small companies tend to understand all of this. Their professional experiences often keep expectations in check, even during the holiday season. This understanding is not, however, a reason or excuse for business owners to embrace the attitude of that most infamous of small business owners, Ebenezer Scrooge.
When a holiday falls on a business day, consider adding another lump of coal to the stove and, when possible, letting your employees leave early.
Paid Time Off – The Gift That Keeps Giving
Small or nascent businesses are often left scrambling for inexpensive ways to build employee morale and engagement. Therefore, it’s important for these businesses to understand what employees value.
Generally, employees value paid time off more than every other benefit imaginable, with the exception of healthcare. Not every small business can afford a full paid time off program, but even a limited gesture can go a long way toward creating goodwill. So, if you’re choosing between purchasing a ping pong table for the break room or sending employees home a few hours early on Thanksgiving Eve with pay, the decision should be a pretty easy one.
Rewarding Behavior That’s Nice…or Naughty?
The days and hours leading to a holiday – not to mention the holiday itself – are often the least productive times for any non-retail business.
Watching a room of usually focused, capable employees turn into jittery clock-watchers can turn even the most kind-hearted manager into a Grinch who is disinclined to reward employees at what is (generally) their least impressive time of year.
It may help, however, to understand that closing early on or before a holiday is not a reward for what is happening at that moment in time. Instead it’s:
- A ‘thank you’ for the months of effort that led to where you are.
- A gesture of appreciation for the hard work that’s to come.
- A generous acknowledgement by management that holidays often create additional demands on people’s time, demands that simply don’t exist the majority of the year.
- An ability to do all the above at a time when customer demands are often at their lowest levels of the year.
For those in the retail industry, closing the business early may not be a viable option, so consider:
- Paying a premium rate for hourly employees working on holidays. You may actually get some volunteers!
- Creating a rotating schedule of employees who work holidays so it doesn’t always fall to the same staff members with the least tenure. Remember that employees without spouses and/or children still want to spend holidays with their families.
- Keeping an eye on customer traffic so you can send employees home as business slows toward the end of the day.
Leave the Surprises to Santa – Plan Carefully for an Early Closing
Surprises are great for presents and parties, but not ideal for early closings. Here are some ideas for planning ahead:
- Give your customers, vendors, and employees a minimum of two weeks to plan for any change in regular operating hours, including an early close for a holiday.
- Update your company website
- Post to your social media pages
- Announce through internal and external emails
- Good ‘ole fashioned signs on doors and in break rooms work, too!
- Change the company’s voice mail greeting to alert callers of the change in office hours. Provide specific information such as the reason for the early close and exact date when the office will return to its normal working hours. Have employees change their personal voice mail greeting and out-of-office email replies with the same information.
- Holidays – whether you observe them or not – may impact pay day schedules. Check with your payroll vendor and button up any time sheet and/or payroll requirements before closing up shop, so you don’t end up on anyone’s naughty list.
- You can save energy and money by lowering thermostats and turning off non-essential equipment. It’s like an after-Christmas sale on your utility bill! Non-essential equipment includes:
- Desk lights
- Computers and monitors
Most companies can give their employees exactly what they want for the holidays – more paid time off. With some advanced planning, any impact on the business can be managed while the positive impact on improved employee morale can pay off well into the future.
At Inspiring HR, we uncomplicate HR and empower small businesses. Ready to learn more about how we can help you? Call us at 804-715-1920 or drop us a line to schedule a consultation with an Inspiring HR consultant.