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Remember To Say Thank You

Leading up to the end of the year, we have been  sharing a handful of TED talks on subjects like listening, sharing goals, mindfulness and more...that will help you to not only survive, but thrive during the holidays this year.

In this deceptively simple 3-minute talk, Dr. Laura Trice muses on the power of the magic words "thank you" -- to deepen a friendship, to repair a bond, to make sure another person knows what they mean to you.

All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes

Are you prepared for the holidays? Leading up to the end of the year, we have been  sharing a handful of TED talks on subjects like listening, sharing goals, mindfulness and more...that will help you to not only survive, but thrive during the holidays this year. Today we are sharing mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe who asks, “When is the last time you did absolutely nothing for 10 whole minutes? Not texting, talking or even thinking?”

In today’s video, learn the transformative power of doing just that: Refreshing your mind for 10 minutes a day, simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment. 

The Balancing Act: How To Navigate the Holidays With Employees

Holiday-Office-Party-300x199Starting even before Thanksgiving, the calendar marks the arrival of seemingly long, often overlapping, and sometimes conflicting religious and cultural holidays, (Eid al-Adha, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Epiphany, Ashura, and the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, as well as the traditional and Chinese New Year’s celebrations). For small business owners, this holiday period can be an especially stressful and challenging time that includes a balancing act between respecting the rights of individual employees and continuing to run a successful and profitable business.

Learn about Your Employees

This growing awareness of religious and cultural diversity in the workplace represents a sea change from 35 years ago. Back then, an overwhelming majority of the U.S.-born workforce—more than 95 percent—was Christian. Even a large majority of the foreign-born workers immigrating to the U.S. at that time came from Europe, a traditionally Christian region. Today, however, things are noticeably different. The recent influx of immigrant workers from Latin America, Asia, and Africa means U.S. businesses are now much more likely to have employees of differing religious and cultural backgrounds. And though roughly 80 percent of the U.S. population still identifies itself as Christian, the 20 percent who are not still translates into 60 million people.

Discrimination laws prohibit asking job candidates about their religious or cultural practices. However, an alternative solution is to inquire potential and current employees days and times that they will not be available for work in the upcoming months.

Know the law

Regardless of whether you are a private employer or a public institution, U.S. companies are still bound by anti-discrimination laws. Therefore, private employers do have to accommodate employee requests for time off to celebrate religious holidays unless it poses an “undue hardship” on their business. What qualifies as a religious holiday will vary from one employee to another, but what isn’t up for debate, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is the legitimacy of a religion or sincerity of an employee’s beliefs.

Give Options

One of the best ways to accommodate various religious holidays is to provide employees with more options. Granting floating holidays, allowing holiday swapping between workers, or setting up flexible work hours all represent good tools worthy of adopting into a formal company policy.

Tips for accommodating religious holidays in your small business

Here are a few extra things employers can do to make their workplaces more inclusive during the holidays.

  • Make sure your holiday party isn't a Christmas party in disguise. Decorations and food should be general, and not specific to any religion.
  • Consider having a New Year's party instead of a holiday party. This type of party can get everyone on board with the company's mission and vision for the New Year.
  • Post holiday greetings on your webpage and Intranet for many religious holidays.
  • Be respectful of these special dates, and plan events and meetings around various holidays.
  • Display a multi-cultural calendar to help all employees stay aware of important cultural events for the rest of the year.
  • Be flexible with the needs of different employees about religious or holiday celebrations.
  • Encourage employees to share their celebrations through stories, decorations, and foods that they can bring to their workplace.


Decking The Halls with Employee Engagement

Christmas partyKeeping your employees engaged in their work can be a challenge…especially during the holiday season. The holiday season lasts roughly from the week of Thanksgiving until after New Year's, and managers who can't find ways to keep their team motivated risk losing a lot of money during the fall and winter months.

Below are 9 ways to keep your employees engaged this holiday season.

  1. Celebrate success — This is important all year round, but is especially helpful in keeping employees focused on finishing out the year strong.  It can be as simple as using positive reinforcement, such as thank-you cards, phone calls or a congratulatory email when you see an employee performing well. If the accomplishment is much larger, you can treat the individual or entire team to an impromptu get together. This could include lunch, pizza or drinks at a local pub. You can also celebrate the holidays by taking the team to a seasonal, festive movie.
  2. Give them the tools for successTake the time this holiday season to ask employees what needs replacing and what other problems you might help them solve. They'll appreciate your efforts and will likely stay a little more engaged in their work this holiday season.
  3. Organize gift exchanges – A popular Christmas tradition is the Secret Santa gift exchange. Colleagues randomly choose names out of a hat and must anonymously buy a present for whomever they wind up picking.  Be sure to set a small spending limit.
  4. Have each employee send out one handwritten thank you note a day to someone  who has helped them. You’ll be surprised to find that you never run out of people to thank and you’ll boost the feeling of gratitude and joy within the office personnel.
  5. Holiday Parties – These do not have to be a glamorous event. They can be a gathering after work at the office or a favorite restaurant. Most employers don’t have the budget for the latter, and it is not important that the event be a high dollar expense. What is important is that you plan it, and invite the employees with enough time to adequately make plans to attend and get excited for it. The pre-party excitement is part of the fun – and is part of employee “engagement” process.
  6. Holiday Gifts - These can come in a variety of forms. It is best to choose a gift that will be remembered or appreciated for the long term by the employees. While cash gifts are desirable and easy, they are typically three times more expensive than non-cash gifts. They also do not have a lasting emotional effect. This means that there is less opportunity for an emotional connection with the gift. If the goal is to motivate and inspire performance, a gift with a high emotional effect is essential.
  7. Promote charity work – The holidays are a particularly popular time when it comes to charity. There’s nothing like giving back to the community to raise employee morale.
  8. Decorations – Be culturally aware – If you’re going to be organizing office parties and gift exchanges, decorations are a must. But keep in mind the other religions around the office. In this day and age, it’s extremely important to be ethnically sensitive
  9. Time off – Since things slow down considerably during the holidays, it is the perfect opportunity for bosses to show their appreciation by allowing for some extra time off if possible. Everyone appreciates a day off, especially during Christmas