December 5, 2022

small business advice

Brace Your Employees for Holiday Season-2008

Jerry Osteryoung | 12/1/2008

Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.
— Frederick Buechner

With the holidays upon us, we are on the cusp of the most stressful part of the year. The intrinsic stress of the season combined with tough economic times means that your staff will be feeling tremendous pressure. With a continuous stream of bad news in the media and a cloudy future ahead, you really need to understand how critical these times are for your staff.

There are going to be many team members who will have more difficulty this year than any other. The best thing you can do is demonstrate a positive attitude at all times and pay very close attention to your staff. Watch for aberrant behavior such as anger flare-ups and hostility toward superiors, and have a plan of action in case you see a team member getting stressed out. You have to be prepared to deal with these things when they come up and preferably before they arise.

If you see a problem developing, ask to speak to the staff member and allow them the opportunity to vent. In the majority of cases, you cannot fix their problem, but you can listen non-judgmentally. From my experience as a former crisis counselor, I can tell you that people who are in crisis (however the individual defines it) just need someone to listen to them.

If you think the actual or anticipated behavior is too much for you to handle, consider kindly recommending the advantages of counseling. So many people do much better with a psychologist to talk to.

With so many businesses currently cutting back the number of employees, job security is one of the biggest uncertainties right now. The more you can sincerely reassure your staff that no job cuts are being planned at present, the better.

If you have given holiday bonuses in the past and are having financial problems, the sooner you let the staff know that these will be eliminated or reduced this year, the better. It is so much better to tell staff early so that they do not feel blindsided.

If you can afford to continue a holiday party tradition, do not change it — especially this year as your staff needs this certainty. However, if your financial situation causes you to question the wisdom of the expense, reduce the size of it, but do not eliminate the function.

Now go out and make sure you have a plan in place to deal with the increased stress that this year’s holiday season will bring.

You can do this!

Jerry Osteryoung is the Director of Outreach of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University, the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship; and Professor of Finance. He was the founding Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 850-644-3372.

Tags: Florida Small Business, Entrepreneur

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