In the past, we have written about unique ways to recognize staff during the holiday season, including giving gifts of time, pampering, gathering, or service to others. We think these are all still good options and this year, for practices that plan to stick to more traditional shows of appreciation such as parties and bonuses, we’d like to offer a few ideas about how to make the holiday go smoothly.
If you’re planning a party or dinner, hopefully you secured your venue some time ago. By now, many restaurant and hotel meeting rooms are booked for the holidays. If you still need a location to host a staff gathering at this point in time, you may have to “think outside the box.” Consider holding your gathering at an interesting retail establishment that is closed during the evening (and whose proprietor might appreciate renting their space for a little extra cash and in exchange for having the shop exposed to some potential new customers) or check with your local hospital about using one of their meeting rooms for a quiet, catered dinner (just not for a raucous into-the-wee-hours party!). If your staff is small enough, a provider’s or manager’s home might also be an option, as would simply reserving a large table at a restaurant (i.e., forgoing the private room).
Whether you’re having an event catered or going to a restaurant, hotel, or resort for an evening, be sure to consider special dietary requirements of staff members. Are there vegetarians in the group, or are several employees on strict weight-loss plans? If so, try to accommodate individuals who are, for health or other reasons, paying attention to their nutrition. It’s hard enough over the holidays to eat healthfully and in moderation . . . why add to that problem at your very own party?
Keep an eye on alcohol consumption at your practice-sponsored gathering. Cut employees some slack if they want to let their hair down a little bit, but intervene if it looks like someone is at risk of overdoing it and making themselves look foolish. If it appears that a staff member (or provider for that matter) has had a little too much to drink, make sure they don’t attempt to drive themselves home.
There are several schools of thought when it comes to giving holiday bonuses. Some practices give everyone an equal amount, regardless of their position, salary level, or how long they’ve been employed. Others give bonuses based on practice profitability or each employee’s number of years of service, average hours worked (i.e., part-time vs. full-time), or measurable performance indicators. Do what feels fair in your practice and be sure not to give bonuses in such a way that they become expected year to year, or worse, that bonuses will be expected to be larger with each passing year. Convey this by indicating that the bonuses are based on your specific criteria, and that dollar amounts (and even whether bonuses will be given at all) are subject to change from year to year. Be sure to check with your accountant or payroll service about withholding taxes from bonuses, and if you give them regularly, budget for the expense.