Spread Holiday Cheer without Breaking the Budget
As the year winds down, I hope you and your staff are seeing a bit more “sparkle” on the practice profit margin and you can take time to celebrate the Holiday Season. After all, there’s nothing like a little “rockin’ around the Christmas tree” to build camaraderie and esprit de corps among the team. But how do you ensure that you spread the holiday cheer without having to scrape your pockets, dig under the seat cushions, and hand over a chunk of cash? Follow a few guidelines to keep the party on pace and the budget in line.
First, involve employees in the planning. Making them part of the process helps to ensure that you can deliver a celebration they will enjoy. That being said, a good time doesn’t mean a blank check. Provide clear budget guidelines, and encourage the party planners to be creative. The office is not the place for a party, but a restaurant may be too predictable. Consider a museum, an ice rink, or perhaps a day at the beach. You could hire a limo and treat the team to “dinner on the go,” stopping at one place for appetizers, another for the main course, and a third for dessert.
If you do choose to hold your party at a restaurant, select items in advance from a limited menu. Include a variety of appetizers, pasta, chicken and fish. Skip the filet mignon. While you don’t want to skimp on food, you can be selective. Keep in mind that toasting the success of the practice once or twice is great, but libations should be limited. An open bar is an open invitation to potential problems and liability. If the event is held during the day, keep the guest list to employees only. If the party is in the evening, the expectation is that spouses/significant others would be invited as well. Keep in mind that employees with young children often have evening obligations. Therefore, a party that is supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable can be an added stress and expense for some.
If you do give gifts, know your employees’ interests well enough to present a personal gift. Yes, it takes more time and effort, but the level of appreciation will be much greater as well. When making gift selections, remember that the gift isn’t for you, it’s for your employee. Just because you enjoy fine wine doesn’t mean your staff will appreciate that bottle of vino. And giving everyone the same gift spells l-a-z-y. Gifts purchased en masse, be they boxes of chocolates, holiday music CDs, etc. are often viewed as meaningless tokens of obligation rather than genuine expressions of appreciation (regardless of the price and your good intentions). Additionally, gifts with your practice name and logo on them will likely remain in the box.
In the spirit of “it is better to give than receive,” use the holiday party as an opportunity to give to others as well. Encourage staff to bring non-perishable items to the party that will be donated to the local food pantry or collect unwrapped new toys for area toy drives.
While talking shop should be discouraged, making it a point to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year can go a long way in showing genuine appreciation to your team members. Prior to the holiday party, sit down and write a personalized note to each member of your team. Recognize and thank each individual for something special that s/he contributed to the success of the practice over the past 12 months. During the party, call each person up and read the note aloud. Showing sincere thanks and appreciation to those who help you succeed on a daily basis is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
If a holiday party is not in your budget this year, consider offering staff members flexible scheduling over the holidays. This is a potentially huge reward with little/no impact on the bottom line. It can be a relatively easy way to thank employees who, like most of us, struggle to keep their work and personal life in balance.Keep in mind that while the holidays offer an opportunity to recognize hard work and thank employees for their commitment to the practice throughout the year, they should not to be the only time of year in which you acknowledge their efforts.
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