How's your holiday office etiquette?

Keep your holiday office etiquette kind and compassionate all season — especially under stress! (Photo via Jon Oropeza, Flickr)


How’s your holiday office etiquette? Holiday cheer can be harder to come by as we enter the end of the holiday season.
Seasonal activities that sounded so exciting a month ago — gift-giving! decorating! holiday parties! — may now feel more like obligations than joys. (“And why exactly did I promise to host a New Year’s party?”)
Holiday fatigue breeds bitterness and ingratitude, emotions that spread quickly in a workplace and bring down everyone.
Holiday office etiquette that was once kind and compassionate can sour if management doesn’t encourage season-long positivity and gratitude.
Maintain great holiday office etiquette all season, especially under stress. Read on for tips to keep everyone’s manners good and spirits up — right into the New Year!

Holiday Office Etiquette: Be Kind, Be Gentle

Holiday cheer should be fun, but the pressure can be overwhelming, says Modern Manners correspondent Lauren M.G. Burt.
“It can also be stressful and create awkward social situations with all the parties, gifts and overall expectations for a ‘perfect’ holiday season experience,” she writes in a recent column.
The cure for holiday stress and related bad manners?
Be gentle and realistic with yourself (and others) during the holidays.
“Set priorities that are important to you. If a long-standing tradition is more stressful than joyful, do something different,” Burt writes. “Take time this season to practice gratitude, thankfulness and share some holiday cheer in the form of kindness and celebrate those around you to make the season bright.”
Listen to employees for on-the-spot feedback, and practice compassion. For some — like this Dear Abby advice-seeker — the office holiday party may be more stressful than joyful. Encourage employees to participate as much or as little as they want. Mandated fun is rarely fun.
Even when participation isn’t mandatory, be sure you’re not encouraging a “checked out,” inconsiderate workplace where everyone hides behind screens to handle their stress.
Google predicts 2015 will be our most digitally connected holiday season ever, according to The Detroit News’ “Celebrate Holidays By Putting Down Smartphone.” More digital connections often spell trouble in the workplace, with employees distracted all day on personal smartphones and then catching up on work after-hours from home.
David Greenfield, director of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in Connecticut, suggests we reclaim balance through tech breaks and more face-to-face interaction.
That requires pushing through the initial discomfort when we power-down, he tells The Detroit News: “If you can tolerate the discomfort, the next time it gets easier.”
Take a cue from Shonda Rhimes, prolific writer for hit TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. In her new memoir, “The Year of Yes,” she reveals her secret for being present for her family while still maintaining professional productivity: she doesn’t check work email after 7 p.m.
Whatever works best for your workplace to discourage stress and build balance, be sure managers are modeling this behavior to employees. Your managers may need it the most! The Detroit News reports senior managers struggle the most with blurred boundaries in work-life balance.
Digital distractions aren’t going away anytime soon, so promote mindfulness.
Mindfulness training is a growing practice at companies seeking to reverse the trend of “steady executives” turning into “frenzied underachievers,” as one researcher describes it. For resources on mindfulness in the workplace, the Greater Good Science Center has a helpful article on “How to Thrive in the Attention Economy.”

An Atmosphere of Celebration, Every Day!

Big holiday parties can be a blast, but make sure you’re not partying at the cost of everyday workplace happiness and appreciation.
Employees shouldn’t feel like the office holiday party is their only chance all month to let loose, enjoy time with coworkers or receive company appreciation. This can create a dynamic of overindulgence and take the focus off the whole reason for throwing holiday parties in the first place — gratitude.
Regular, low-key celebrations keep everyone interacting and having fun without all the pressures of a big social engagement. Try:

  • Bagels-and-juice breakfast for employees working New Year’s Day, the day after Christmas, etc.
  • Small gifts of appreciation for employees working on holidays
  • A round of New Year’s-themed games over a lunch break
  • A year-end gathering with hot chocolate and holiday cookies to review and celebrate 2015

Employees who feel appreciated, celebrated and listened to will naturally follow better holiday office etiquette because good manners and compassion are contagious!
For tips on holiday office etiquette for employee gift-giving, download our FREE eBook, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving.”  Learn from HR experts what really works.
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