The end of the year is a time of celebration and community, a time to reflect on the months behind us and look forward to what’s next. The end of the year also brings an opportunity to find creative ways to serve and support your team. We’ve gathered a list of five ways to reflect and refresh within your workplace this holiday season.
1. Be (extra) conscious of employees’ mental health needs
For many people, the end of the year triggers a decline in mental health. In fact, 64% of people with mental health or substance abuse issues note that their conditions worsen during the holiday season. This means that while you should prioritize employee mental health year-round, it’s particularly important to be conscious of employee well-being during this time.
As a team leader, there are several steps you can take to show your active support of your employees who might be struggling. If it feels right, go beyond the standard “how’s it going?” in your one-on-ones and really hold space for your employees to voice how they’re feeling. Try to model this vulnerability yourself, and don’t be afraid to let your employees know if you’re having a rough day.
2. Give your team a break
Similar to the above point, end-of-year stress can sometimes only be alleviated with time away from work. According to clinical psychologist Deborah Mulhern, "What neuroscience is showing is that we require downtime in order for our bodies to go through the process of restoration. It is only when we are safe from external stresses that our bodies can relax enough to activate restoration." Additionally, time off leads to improved physical and mental health, decreased burnout and boosted happiness.
Review your company’s time-off policy and encourage your employees to use their PTO days. And remind them that when they are off work — for Christmas, for New Year’s, etc. — they are off work and should fully lean into those breaks.
3. Recognize individual and team achievements
The end of the year is the perfect time to walk down memory lane with your employees, to acknowledge their accomplishments, growth and progress over the course of the year. When you make an effort to celebrate your employees’ wins — say, at the office holiday party or during the last team meeting of the year — they will feel more valued and engaged with their work. And the effects of workplace recognition go far beyond making employees feel “warm and fuzzy.” It actually encourages prosocial behavior, which promotes the well-being of others through altruistic acts. Additionally, workplace recognition leads to increases in productivity and quality of work.
Reflect on the months behind you and identify moments when your team members rose to the occasion in (or out of) the workplace. Acknowledge and thank them for their hard work, and consider offering a small token of appreciation for their contributions.
4. Host intentional and inclusive year-end celebrations
When planning end-of-year celebrations, it’s important to keep in mind that not everybody shares the same traditions. The best way to find out what matters to your employees is to ask. Consider having new hires identify what holidays they celebrate as a part of the onboarding process. This way, you can create a holiday calendar that embodies and uplifts the traditions of everyone on your team, promoting a culture of inclusion right from the start.
What’s more, any events sponsored by your company need to be inclusive and accessible to any and all employees. Consider hosting more generalized office parties (not a “Christmas Party” but an “End-of-Year Celebration”), and be especially conscious of any decorations you put out. If you’re not representing every holiday celebrated among your team, then don’t represent any. Lastly, make it clear to your employees that they are not required to participate in any office-sponsored holiday events, and that you respect whatever way they choose to engage (or not engage) with colleagues during this time.
5. Hold space for candid conversations
After the year(s) we’ve had, your team members surely have something to say. As business winds down at the end of the year, it’s important to make space for your employees to voice their feelings about all that has transpired and share their visions for what’s to come.
“Reflect & Refresh” is Inclusivv’s newest conversation topic, designed to reflect on what we’ve learned, celebrate what we’ve gained, and look forward with hope for the future. When we take time to process, we can come away feeling refreshed, energized and connected — and ready for what’s next. If you’re interested in bringing this conversation to your organization, let us know!
As we prepare to wrap up another eventful year, think about what you might do to support your employees. Is there anything else not on this list that you do for your team?