Holidays aren’t jolly for everyone

Holidays aren't jolly for everyone

It’s that time of year in which people find ways to celebrate what’s important, whether it be religious or cultural beliefs, their love of online shopping, and more. In some areas snow might be falling, houses are decorated with lights, and mugs are warmed with hot cocoa.

And as wonderful as these things may seem, it’s important to note that the holidays aren’t always a wonderful time for everyone. In fact, the holiday season can be triggering for many reasons.

This year in particular, many people are feeling lonely, lack deep and meaningful connections, and may even be battling depression, rates of which tend to rise during the holidays.

As a leader, it’s important to understand these challenges instead of encouraging a culture of forced positivity. Knowing that some members of your team, colleagues, or even your senior leaders, may be struggling, and then providing safe spaces is exactly what a human leader would do. 

Here are three suggestions and tools to help you be the kind of leader who puts people first.

1. When so much has changed in so many employees’ lives, your leadership actions, behaviors, and beliefs become even more important. My leadership research shows that outstanding leaders focus on healthy relationships and psychologically safe environments for their team members more than average-performing leaders do. Are you an outstanding leader? Have you considered how your approach to holiday planning is affecting your employees? I encourage you to take some time to think about this today and consider what you might need to shift and change to help your employees feel seen.

2. Let’s not forget about how you are managing this season, either. While I recommend meditation as a possible destressor for some clients, I also understand that others are hesitant to start the practice. If you’re feeling like you could use some stress relief, but don’t necessarily want to meditate either, I encourage you to listen to this soothing background music as you work or simply take a two-minute listening break during the day. On the fence? Here’s a bonus for you from Harvard Health Publishing: Music like this can lower your blood pressure!

3. While I mentioned that it’s important to acknowledge that the holiday season isn’t always met with glee, I want you to consider ways you can still celebrate, even if you’re approaching it in micro-moments. Cheer on your employees’ hard work — not just when they meet goals or accomplish something, but when they’re in the thick of it and needing motivation most. Take a moment to send a personalized thank you note. (If you need ideas, check out my colleague Chris Littlefield’s HBR article on this topic!) Check in with your staff who may be isolated. Encourage your team to take time off. These actions help your employees feel appreciated and that they matter as human beings, not just resources that deliver output in the workplace.

From my home to yours, I wish you a holiday season filled with peace, love, and joy.

— Jennifer

Image from Shutterstock

Share with others

Be the first to read the foreword, introduction and first chapter

Are You a Human Leader?

Take the HLI now and find out!

Leave a Comment