Are you a boss? This post is intended to help you be the Santa Claus everyone who works for you is wishing and hoping, even praying that you will be this month.
What follows are my suggestions for your m.o. as the employer everyone would love to have right now. Take them and you’ll score big-time brownie points, you’ll enjoy the holidays a lot more yourself, and you’ll have the best night’s sleep you’ve had in months … at least until January, but what the heck; Share some aloha, live dangerously and let people love you.
These are my Makana Kalikimaka, the Top 5 Gifts every employer can give every employee wrapped in a big red bow (figuratively speaking):
Gift 1: Makana Ekahi
Cancel everything you can between now and the 3rd week of January. Postpone or reschedule if you must, but the big bonus points you get are for outright cancellation. Everything that is not mission-lifeline-critical should be fair game. No meetings i.e. team huddles or however you disguise the time everyone is called to talk business in the same place, no vendor appointments, no system and process audits, and absolutely no new projects initiated on anything.
Come now, you don’t really think everyone is getting all that much done right now anyway, do you?
Eliminate client meetings and bigwig entertainment. I said everything should be fair game, remember? Think about it; your invitation is probably a burden on them too. They don’t have to scheme on how to say no when you courteously, thoughtfully resist inviting them to begin with!
Gift 2: Makana Elua
How do you fill up that extra time everyone has now thanks to you?
a) Trim operating hours or hand out extra days off with pay.
b) If you can’t do that (24/7 operation and all…), and people still want to work (they need to bank it), trust them to use the time wisely to get ahead of things for when January comes in like a hurricane. If you can’t trust them to do that, well, you’ve got some hiring issues that are a totally different subject than this one at hand. See the coaching shingle I’ve hung on my own website, and call me in January.
A sidebar on this one: Don’t allow people to work overtime right now. Forbid (yes, I know it’s a strong word) salaried staff to work more than their 40 hours a week; have them set the pono (for health and balance) example. If you did the meeting, appointment etc. cancellations first, this shouldn’t be a problem; you’ll be amazed at the amount of nonsensical auto-pilot Gift 1 is going to expose for you—your staff will see it too.
Gift 3:Makana Ekolu
Okay, take a deep breath for this one … ready?
If you normally restrict internet access on your company network, turn it on between now and Christmas.
“But then they’ll web surf all day on company time!” Maybe, but they’ll also be learning way more computer literacy than they normally have time to invest in, and that’s good for you. They won’t be stressing out on their lunch breaks trying to squeeze in the brick and mortar shopping, coming back to work grouchy the rest of the day.
After their initial web surfing they may even do some very valuable market research, networking or benchmarking for you — and anything else you’ve been silently hoping they’d figure out online at home (nope, their kids are online there.)
Gift 4: Makana Eha
Be the Scrooge that sets a low dollar limit on the Secret Santa deal in the office. Everyone is hoping someone will be the brave cheapie because everyone is strapped for cash right now.
You don’t want to look like a cheapie either? Believe me, if you are taking all my gift list suggestions here you won’t be. There’s also a fringe benefit in helping to stir up the sleeping creativity in people: Without the easy way out greenbacks furnish us with in currency they have to be more creative; they actually have to be more thought-full.
Gift 5: Makana Elima
If there’s a holiday party for your office you need to pay for it — for everything. No potlucks, no chipping in, and no party platters from Costco. FBC baby; Full Blown Catering (By the way, if you are in the food and beverage business, cater from somebody else and write it off to market research. Sorry to tell you, but your employees don’t want to eat your stuff at the holiday party, delicious as I’m sure it is).
If you are nervous about the alcohol, skip it altogether; the drink ticket or worse, the no-host bar deal is just too tacky. If you can’t afford to invite spouses and guests, don’t. It’s better to exclude them than charge for them.
That’s the Top 5. If you are the boss of all bosses, and you still would like to give a traditional, wrapped-in-a-box kind of gift, by all means feel free to do so. My suggestion would be the one thing you might think is tacky but no one else does: c a s h, the time-tested and revered Christmas bonus. There’s no room in their refrigerator for those turkeys you got a deal on after Thanksgiving, so donate them to your community Food Bank.
Extra Credit: If you have free closet space you can secure and lock up tight, let everyone hide their family’s gifts from Santa at work until Christmas eve … boy do I remember stressing over that one.
And then — Extra, EXTRA Credit: You hire a delivery service with a jolly elf in a Santa suit to deliver the gifts to their homes on Christmas eve. Boy oh boy, will you be the boss from heaven!
Mele Kalikimaka, Merry Christmas!
Rosa Say, author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. Rosa is founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.
Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: An Aloha Virtue List for December.