7 Ways to Support Employees During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for joy, celebration and togetherness with family and friends. For those in the funeral service profession however, it’s also one of the busiest times of the year.  

While many people look forward to a few paid days off work around the holidays, the world continues to spin and there are many people who work rain or shine, 24/7, 365 days a year. Trying to juggle a busy work schedule while finding extra time for family gatherings and children home from school on holiday break can be challenging. Not to mention, switching gears between being joyous and cheerful to empathetic and professional makes it particularly difficult for those in the funeral service profession to find that delicate balance. That’s why it’s important to recognize this to ensure that your employees feel valued in a safe, positive work environment throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Here are seven ideas on how you can show your support and appreciation for your employees working through the holidays this year.

1. Plan ahead and offer flexible scheduling.

Most firms have a loosely structured schedule in place, which consists of rotating regular and on-call hours. Keeping this in mind, consider discussing with your employees prior to the busy holiday season about their personal holiday plans and preferred availability and time off requests. This allows you to put together a schedule that attempts to accommodate the most important engagements each staff member would prefer not to miss, and ensures you have reliable staff coverage when you need it most.

While requests for schedule changes or time off cannot always be accommodated, going the extra mile to acknowledge input shows that you truly care about the work-life balance of your employees and strive to make your firm a great place to work.

2. Establish clear seasonal expectations.

It’s important going into the holiday season that you set clear expectations for your employees regarding how you would like them to embrace the festive holiday spirit, while still ensuring compassion and empathy during the most difficult time a family may face. Your firm may be decked out in holiday décor inside and out, but that does not mean that the level of professionalism and customer service you’ve established for your firm should waver.

Imagine bringing a family in to finalize funeral plans for their loved one while your employees are dressed in elf costumes with “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” piping through the sound system. That may not be the most appropriate impression you’d like your client families to have. Setting expectations in advance ensures that your employees have a clear understanding of how you would like to handle embracing the holiday spirit while showing the same level of empathy and comfort your client families have come to know and expect.

3. Encourage self-care. 

For those working in the funeral service profession, self-care is always important, regardless of the time of year. But it’s especially important when trying to manage the emotional toll of providing support for grieving families with enjoying the happiness and cheer the holidays bring. Encourage your employees to take short breaks throughout their shifts to take a few minutes to relax and clear their minds. Taking a walk around the block, meditating, enjoying a cup of coffee or a few minutes of reading are all quick, effective ways to reduce stress.

4. Touch base with employees regularly. 

Fostering open communication with your employees is an effective way to ensure your firm provides a safe, healthy work environment. Check in with employees regularly to find out how they’re doing. Ask them if there’s anything you can provide to make their job easier or to support them in their position and ensure they feel comfortable expressing any concerns or thoughts with you. This will help build a sense of trust and camaraderie.

5. Respect your employee’s time off. 

Ensure that your employees can enjoy their time away from work during the holidays so they can adequately relax, recharge and be refreshed and fully present when they’re back to work. Make sure your staff is respectful of everyone's scheduled time off and eliminate the need to contact employees for work-related issues outside their regular working hours.

6. Offer incentives! 

Consider offering incentives for your employees working throughout the holiday season. Whether it’s providing a catered lunch or special treats in the break room to offering a year-end bonus or the ability to earn extra time off, these are all things that can help provide incentive for employees to keep up their best work through the end of the year.

7. Show your appreciation for employees.

Express your gratitude for your employees that are working through the holiday season. It can be something as simple as a handwritten note or letter of appreciation to recognizing outstanding employees during staff meetings. To take it a step further, consider taking the time to find out the type of recognition that is meaningful for each employee.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and all the end-of-year business responsibilities, but taking time to recognize your employees hard work and dedication is a simple way to make someone feel special and boost overall morale in the workplace.

Working in the funeral service profession demands a unique blend of professionalism, empathy, and resilience any time of the year, but especially through the holiday season. When the holiday season starts getting busy, remember the important role funeral professionals have in providing support for client families experiencing loss this time of year to ensure that each holiday season to come they remember the joy their loved ones brought into their lives, not necessarily the sorrow they experienced at the time of loss.

How do you recognize the holidays in your firm or business? If you’re looking for more ways to be fully present this holiday season, check out this blog post.

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