As churches prepare to lead Christmas programming, organizations finalize end-of-year giving initiatives, and schools wrap up the semester, it’s easy for both leaders and staff to become overwhelmed. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your staff doesn’t get overlooked and overwhelmed during the holiday season. Here are four tips for blessing your staff and making sure their needs are met in order to bolster a healthy, enduring culture.
1. Give extra PTO- and make sure they use it
The easiest way to bless your staff immensely during the crazy holiday season is to give them extra paid time off, allowing them to get the rest and recuperation that they need. But it’s also important to encourage your staff to actually take the time off that they need, rather than waiting to use it. Encourage your staff to actually close their computers, log out of their emails, and get much-needed time with friends and family, completely away from work. It’s also crucial that you hold yourself to the same standard. Time off does not mean time to catch up on emails or get that end-of-year project wrapped up. Turn that out-of-office message “On” and get some much-needed rest.
2. Reflect with them
Take time with your individual staff to reflect on the successes and failures of the year and dream for the upcoming one. If you are able to set apart some time, writing letters to each staff member expressing gratitude for their individual hard work and accomplishments can be a significant encouragement. You can also get face-to-face with each person to thank them for their contributions to the successes of your organization. This doesn’t mean you need to work an hour per staff member into your calendar; these can be quick conversations or brief notes. But one-on-one encouragement goes a long way. Though encouragement and praise to the group as a whole are good and necessary, it is these individual encouragements and gratitude for their hard work that ensure that your team members feel valued and that they return from the holidays motivated and enthusiastic about the work being done.
3. Celebrate with them
Office Christmas parties are a given, but consider how these celebrations can both celebrate Christmas and the faithfulness and persistence of your staff. This is an opportunity to appreciate your staff’s hard work in a more fun, less serious environment. Express your appreciation with end-of-year gifts, or if you’re looking for a way to not break the bank, organize an office Secret Santa (with a spending maximum, of course). You could also forgo a Christmas party altogether and just take your entire team out to a nice lunch on the last day before everyone disperses for the holidays. Either way, come up with something fun and out of the norm to break up the monotony and make your staff feel excited, valued, and celebrated.
4. Be gracious with their impatience and exhaustion, and with your own
Lastly, it’s important to note that this has been a difficult year for many of us, especially in ministry. A new Barna study found that 38% of pastors have considered stepping away from ministry in the past year. This holiday season will be the first semi-normal one since the onset of the pandemic. Though it would be nice to have Christmas just be a fun and restful celebration, we know that it still comes at the end of an exhausting season. Your staff may be feeling burnt out and in desperate need of rest. The last weeks before Christmas and New Years are, as we mentioned before, incredibly busy times for church staff and Christian organizations. Be realistic in what you expect from your teams, and if you find yourself or your peers acting particularly impatient and frustrated, be gracious and kind. Negativity feeds on negativity, and if you respond to someone’s frustration with more frustration, you will inevitably end the year on a downward spiral. For the sake of the long-term health of your culture, encourage your staff to be particularly patient with each other right now, and like we said earlier, set an example by doing the same.
The busyness of the holidays could easily end with staff feeling burnt out, neglected, and unsure if their current workplace is where they want to stay. Not only would taking these measures help you retain staff during the Great Resignation, but from an individual, Biblical perspective, it’s critical to treat the Imago Dei as such. Cherish your staff, rather than overworking and under-recognizing them. Fight the urge to get swept up in the ministry patterns of a busy season and commit time to care for the individuals who make your ministry happen.