Separation between work and home lives is a myth for most small business owners. (You’re likely living proof of this constant battle.) Time is your most valuable possession and the holiday season makes the overwhelming demand of your time much more noticeable to you and to your family members. For many business owners, the holiday season can be your busiest time, while with other businesses it can be slower. Either way, you’re working hard to finish out the year on top and preparing your business for a strong year to come.
Balancing this critical time of year for your business and with your family needs can be tricky. It’s easy for either your family or your business to feel neglected. It doesn’t need to be that way. I know there are a ton of time management articles out there (we’ve even written one or two), but this is not a time management how-to. These are ideas and suggestions how you can keep your business running full steam ahead, while having meaningful time with your friends and family.
At The Office
Keeping spirits high at the office is essential. It’s easy to get sluggish at the end of the year since everyone is focusing on family and the upcoming holidays. The end of the year is also a crucial time for any business. You want to be able to finish the year strong, and at the same time make sure that you’re not running yourself and your employees ragged.
Here are some non-bank breaking ideas to keep distraction down and momentum up.
- Give your employees a break: Scheduling in some fun time throughout the upcoming weeks is a great way to keep everyone focused without seeming like a drill sergeant. As the boss, create a holiday-themed break for your employees. Have a bake-off, pick a date for everyone to sit down and have lunch together, do a white elephant or secret Santa. You don’t need to do all of these activities nor do they need to happen daily. These events will send the message that there is a designated time to play. Then you can all get back to work and make it happen.
- Show appreciation: Very few things will make an employee feel appreciated by some type of bonus or company gift. You don’t need to go all out, but a little something shows you care and goes a long, long way to keep spirits high.
- Run a contest: Nothing gets my blood pumping like a good contest. (I’m not afraid to admit I may be a little too competitive at times) Be it hitting a company related target or a light-hearted dance-off; it’s a way to bring your employees together for a fun treat.
- Simplify the holiday party: Depending on the size of your company a holiday party could look very different. I’ve experienced a small party in the office, dinner at a restaurant, karaoke night (OnDeck’s favorite go-to activity). Many small businesses can’t afford to go all out for a holiday party, but don’t let that stop you from making one. Keep it casual, during the day, and keep it employees only. Doing something special for your company gives you and your employees a break from the norm. It can be just the thing to reinvigorate you and your employees for the rest of the year.
- Offer some time off: Not all businesses are crazy busy during the holiday season. If that applies to you, give your employees some time back. Make Friday a half day, or let your best employees work from home one day. It won’t cost you a ton and it will mean a lot to have extra time to go gift shopping and prepare for the holidays with their families.
- Give back: Get everyone into the holiday spirit and organize a way for you and your employees to give back. Maybe that’s volunteering together, organizing a food/coat/toy drive, or collecting donations to your favorite charity. This could also connect back to #3 and turn it into a contest with some prizes.
Keeping your family happy during the holidays is not that much different than keeping your employees happy. You will have to use different tactics to get you to the same place. Show your family you care by giving more of yourself.
- Designate time: If you have a significant other, kids, or living alone, giving time to your family is the most precious gift you can give this holiday season. All year your family supports you and your business and a big part of that is knowing sacrificing the time we get to spend with you. Designate 30 minutes every day to forgetting about your business and giving that time to your family. Spend more time with your kids, spouse, or simply call your parents, siblings, and grandparents. This small amount of time won’t negatively affect your business, and it will get majorly noticed by your loved ones.
- Put your phone down: Out for drinks, having dinner, even having a conversation with involved the likelihood you’ll be interrupted by work. All year your family and friends put up with your phone in your hand 24/7 because we are your business’ biggest supporters. Give us a small break these next few weeks and put your phone down. (or at least turn it over)
- Actually wrap your own gifts: I am excellent at gift wrapping. It’s one of the few areas I truly shine during the holiday season. (I even took a class) I come from a big, close-knit family full of business owners, (my grandfather, my cousin, my aunt, my brother-in-law, and my husband.) nothing shows that you took time out of your day more than wrapping your own gifts. I know that my husband’s wrapping job won’t have perfect, handmade bows and multiple twists and folds in the paper, but I know he took the time to wrap it himself.
- Plan a holiday movie marathon: Plan a night to watch your favorite holiday movies. Get the popcorn, the candy, the whole nine yards.
- Build a gingerbread house: Don’t have little kids? Don’t fool yourself, everyone loves gingerbread houses! Even better, make it contest, see who can make the best one.
- Bring the holiday cheer: If you haven’t gotten the hint by now, your time and attention is the big theme throughout this section. Do something extra around the house, cook a dish for the big family dinner, do the laundry (we’ll love you forever), pick people up from the airport, anything you can think of to make the lives of your loved ones a little more cheerful.
While I don’t know you, your business or your family, these are just a few ideas that don’t require too much effort, but can go a long way in making your family and your employees feel appreciated during the holiday season.
Tag pictures of you showing your love @ondeckcapital #holidaylove