Plan now for the holiday season

Plan now for the holiday season

In a recent post, we discussed the importance of preparing early to deliver holiday greetings to patients to avoid rushing around during this always busy season.

In addition to the time-honored tradition of sending cards, there are a number of other steps you can take in your practice that will make the upcoming holiday season smooth and enjoyable. Here are six to consider.

  1. If you’re planning a holiday celebration for staff that will take place outside the office, book your party room, make restaurant reservations or speak with a caterer now. The first three weeks of December are extremely busy for hotels and restaurants, so get your name in early if you want to score your first choice.
  2. To avoid any last minute disappointments, ask employees who want time off for holiday travel or to spend time with friends and family to put their requests in now. If more people want off than the practice can spare, consider temporary staffing arrangements that might make it possible for everyone to have their requests honored. If it’s simply not possible to allow everyone off who would like to be, make sure you have a system or policy in place so that staff members each get a fair amount of time off around the holidays each year.
  3. Decide now which days your office will close during the holiday season. Many businesses close on the Friday after Thanksgiving because so many people enjoy having a four-day weekend with family and/or taking advantage of the Black Friday sales. If that’s part of your plan, post a note in the reception area and otherwise notify patients (in your newsletter, on your Web site or with a note printed on statements that go out between now and then) that you’ll be closed over Thanksgiving. Christmas and New Year’s both fall on Sunday this year, so decide if you’ll be closed on the Friday before and/or the Monday after those holidays, and let patients know what to expect.
  4. Healthcare providers who share after-hours call with colleagues (inside or outside the practice) should arrange their holiday schedules now, if they haven’t already done so.
  5. If holiday bonuses for staff are a tradition in your practice, take a look at the budget soon to determine what amounts will be available. Speak with your accountant about how to handle bonus money and payroll taxes. Consider giving bonuses out fairly early in December so that staff can enjoy holiday shopping.
  6. Because the holidays are traditionally a time for sharing and giving, consider taking on a charity project this year. Perhaps your staff would enjoy adopting a disadvantaged family so that deserving children will have gifts and a traditional holiday meal. Or, maybe your team will opt to donate their time serving a meal at a local homeless shelter or senior center. There are often opportunities to volunteer to visit nursing homes over the holidays to bring good cheer to the residents who don’t have family nearby. Check your local newspaper as the holidays approach to find out about these and other options.