As some would say, the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year. And I can’t help but agree with that sentiment. The holidays are an ideal time to celebrate with family and friends, reflect on the year and look forward to the new one ahead.
For the last two months of the year, pretty much any place you go – the grocery store, the mall, your favorite restaurant, the local pub–is celebrating the holiday season. Most workplaces even make an effort to decorate and celebrate where they can–and it’s no different at OnShift. Whether it’s the ugly Christmas sweater contest, secret Santa gift giving or the holiday gift drive, there’s something special about coming into the office during the holiday season. And I would say my colleagues agree, as everyone seems to be in a more-chipper-than-usual mood.
That’s what got me thinking about how long-term care and senior living providers can use this wonderful time of year to their advantage. The holidays are an ideal opportunity for providers to boost employee engagement and create an inclusive environment where everyone enjoys coming to work.
This extra boost in employee engagement will set you up for success in the new year, even kick-starting your retention efforts. So, here are just a few ways you can make the most of this holiday season to engage and retain your valued employees, while still ensuring operational success.
- Get Together & Give Back
The holidays are a joyous occasion for many, but not everyone is as fortunate. The opportunities to volunteer during the holidays are endless, so grab your staff and do some good.
Some ideas include volunteering at a food shelter or organizing a gift drive for those in need. Gift and food drives can be further expanded as team building opportunities. Organize teams by shifts or position to compete for who can bring in the most gifts or canned goods. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition for a good cause. Then, award the winning the team with gift cards or a free lunch.
- Decorate To Celebrate
A festive atmosphere helps boost employee engagement and makes everyone excited to come to work.
Senior care organizations can create a warm and inviting space during the holidays with even minimal decorations. A Christmas tree at the entrance of the building, some lights strung in the break room, holiday music in the hallways—these are just some of the ways to create a festive atmosphere.
Your residents, too, will delight in the decorations. Organizations can even encourage aides to help residents decorate their rooms.
- Plan A Party
The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without holiday parties. Where else are you going to eat all that delicious, seasonal food that sends you into the new year resolving to eat healthier?
Organize a gift swap, a potluck lunch or other gathering where employees can step away from work for a short while, enjoy some festive food and share in the holiday spirit together.
It’s also an ideal opportunity to let staff mingle and connect with one another in a relaxed and fun setting.
- Create An Effective Communication Plan
In light of the festive celebrations, serious work still needs to be done. Given the time of the year, lots of people will be taking days off for travel and other purposes.
Organizations should outline a communication policy for the holidays and set clear guidelines for how far in advance to request time off and how to manage workloads if short staffed. Scheduling software makes it easy to manage the time-off requests, shift swaps, and other schedule changes, while ensuring the community is still properly staffed to provide quality care.
Organizations should also consider offering as much flexibility as possible to accommodate those travelling and those that have kids off from school. Albeit the holidays are a fun time of year, many employees will be juggling holidays obligations and their work schedule. Those employees will appreciate this flexibility as it shows that their employer cares about them on a personal level and has vested interest in their work-life balance.
- Show A Little Extra Employee Appreciation
Close out the year on a high note by going above and beyond to recognize your employees and show your gratitude for their hard work during the holiday season.
Something like an “I’m Thankful for…” board allows management and employees to recognize and say “thanks” to coworkers that help them out, or those they see providing excellent resident care. Invite residents to participate to show their appreciation for nurses and aides.
Management can also send holiday greeting cards with a thoughtful message to employees and their families, thanking them for a wonderful year and letting them know they’re excited to have them on board for the next one.
These are just a few ideas for providers to take advantage of this festive time of year. However, it’s important to realize that this level of employee engagement shouldn’t be reserved for the final two months of the year. Instead, providers should take a systematic approach to engaging staff and use the holidays as a culmination of the past months and a fun, festive segue into the new year.