with Aliza Sherman
If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.
To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.
Somehow, in between all the shopping and baking and wrapping and mailing and planning and driving to Christmas pageants and holiday concerts, you still have to find time to run your business—and decide how you’re going to mark the season in your professional life.
Here are a few tips to help you ring in the holidays the right way at work:
- Gifts. Who gets them? And what should they get? Etiquette maven Emily Post says giving gifts to employees is “a nice gesture and a great way to acknowledge those who work for you.” If you’re going to gift your employees, though, remember the old Valentine rule from elementary school: Bring one for everyone. Books, gift cards, tickets to arts or sporting events, and baskets of cookies or other treats are all appropriate for employees. Avoid gifts that are too expensive or intimate.
- One alternative (or addition) to company gifts is to sponsor a voluntary “Secret Santa” gift exchange. Those who wish to participate draw names, and then buy or make gifts for their name draw. Be sure to set a dollar limit.
- Some companies choose to reward employees with a year-end bonus. It’s a nice way to say “thank you” for a year of hard work. As with holiday gifts, fairness is important, although all bonuses don’t necessarily need to be the same amount. Come up with a system to determine bonuses fairly. You may want to base them on position, sales or tenure.
- Corporate gifts for clients can be nice or awful, depending on what they are and how they’re presented. If you’re giving a corporate gift, make sure it’s something your clients will actually want and use, not just something junky with your logo on it. Holiday giving is an opportunity to show appreciation for your client’s business, not to shamelessly promote your brand. Goodies your clients’ employees can enjoy are always a nice idea. You may also want to consider making small donations to charity in your clients’ names rather than sending a traditional corporate gift.
- If you’re marking the season with a company gathering, be considerate of those who don’t celebrate Christmas. Many people mark the season by observing other holidays—Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, yes, but also Solstice, Eid, St. Nicholas Day… Some roll their eyes at “political correctness,” but if there are people in your organization who don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s easy to show respect for them by referring to your event as a “holiday” party rather than a Christmas party. (By the way, did you know your workplace holiday party is fully tax-deductible?)
- When attending work-related seasonal gatherings (your own or a client’s), be sure you maintain your professionalism. Relax and enjoy yourself, but remember to keep your behavior appropriate, and avoid drinking too much.
The holidays can be a bit of a minefield in the workplace, but for the thoughtful entrepreneur, they’re a great time to build goodwill among employees and professional contacts.
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