Almost everyone that I know looks forward to the holidays despite our favorite complaints that we gladly share in commiseration with others - the impossible to please mother-in-law, the sibling's know-it-all spouse, the over-bearing Dad, the out of control nieces and nephews. Despite the hustle and bustle, these months contain our happiest days of each year, according to the research of Matt Killingsworth, founder of Track Your Happiness.
So if we are our happiest selves during the holiday season, what can employers extract from this knowledge and use in the workplace to gain the quantifiable business benefits of happiness [Forbes, 2017]? I offer you three suggestions on infusing your culture with holiday spirit throughout the year and taking your employee experience from ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY.
1 - Express Appreciation
Admit it. At one time or another, we all have done the Michael Scott math when giving and receiving gifts. And when it comes to feeling appreciated, your employees do this math too. Adopting a consistent and targeted practice of simple, genuine, and specific expressions of gratitude, positive feedback, and personal acknowledgment creates a culture in which people feel valued and directly connected to the success of the company. The payback for you - people who are willing to give more of their effort and intellectual capacity, which leads to tangible results such as customer loyalty and profitability.
2 - Reflect and Celebrate
Success is never one giant leap. There are always a series of progressive steps forward, be they big or small. Sometimes each step requires much effort and time. Waiting to celebrate success at the very end neglects opportunities to motivate and encourage those working incredibly hard to make progress happen. Taking stock of the "small victories" and coming together as a community to acknowledge our "wins" can give people the added motivation to maintain or increase their effort. An added benefit is the opportunity to identify and share best practices and avoid repeating previously identified mistakes and pitfalls.
3 - Emphasize Renewal
It is these rejuvenating effects and their mutually positive impact on productivity that have made vacation time a standard employee benefit. Despite this, research conducted by Project: Time Off reports that only 51% of employees fully utilize their vacation time.
Here's the reason you want to be a leader in bucking this trend. Project: Time Off reports that employees at companies that encourage vacation use are much happier with their jobs as compared to those who work at places where either vacation is discouraged or managers are ambivalent about taking time off. Be cautioned, however. Words alone are insufficient to create this kind of cultural change. Companies need to delve into and dismantle the indirect cues that often hold more significant sway with employees and implement broader changes in policies and practices to create a new cultural norm.
Additionally, vacations can be more enjoyable when you use my friend Shay Evans, Cruise Planners of Louisville, to help you plan the perfect getaway. Her knowledge and access to special deals, not to mention having a go to person while you are on vacation if something goes awry, is a free gift to yourself.
There you have it, three ideas for creating holiday happiness in your company all year. I wish you and your families a safe and peaceful holiday. I will be back in the new year with more ideas to Ignite Your Extraordinary!