The holiday season is upon us and with it comes the excitement, gatherings, decorations and, for some people, the stress that the accompanying festivities sometimes produce. As a property manager, we know you are deeply invested into the well-being and mental health of your employees. While this time of year is joyful for most people, the holidays can also be hectic and unpleasant for members of your staff. Along with all the other responsibilities on your plate, you might find it difficult to keep your employees on track during the busy holiday season. We have some tips to help you not only deal with the increased resident needs that often arise during this time of year but also how to ensure that your employees remain focused and satisfied in their jobs.

Be Understanding

One of the most common complaints that employees have about their managers is their lack of understanding and empathy. It is crucial, as a property manager, to recognize that the holidays can be a difficult time for many people, especially for those who can’t be around family. In a perfect world, employees would be able to separate their personal life from their work life, but we don’t live in a perfect world and a complete separation is nearly impossible. This is especially true for your employees who work odd hours or on holidays and have to miss family gatherings. As a manager, it is important that you be even more understanding than usual during this season. If you notice that one of your employees is acting out of character for him or her approach them gently and discuss the situation with them. Chances are, life circumstances are simply piling up and by talking together, you’ll likely be able to help them come up with several solutions so that their work productivity remains consistent. Also keep in mind that in most parts of the country, the holiday season is usually accompanied by inclement weather which can cause added stress to employees who have a long commute. Keep in mind, your job as a manager isn’t simply to tell people what to do; it’s to set your employees up for success. To do this effectively, you need to offer support as well as be willing to shoulder some of the work load yourself.

Encourage Time Off

Everybody needs a break. This is why companies are set up to offer their employees vacation time, personal time and sick time. The holiday season often includes extra obligations such as school concerts, classroom parties and visiting family members which can quickly turn into stress that spills over into the workplace. In an effort to avoid this, you should encourage your employees to take time off.  We realize that it might not be possible for every employee to take time off around major holidays. However, make it clear to your staff that you are willing to be more than accommodating either before or after the holidays. A good rule of thumb is to encourage your employees to request any time off several months in advance so that everyone can have a fair chance to use their time off in order to enjoy the season. Most importantly, be flexible. Anytime you can let an employee come in an hour early or take a shorter lunch or leave a bit early in order to meet a family obligation, let them. Not only does it show your staff that you care about their mental health and personal priorities, but it builds a sense of trust and community among employees.

Communicate Effectively

All relationships require effective and respectful communication, including the relationship between a manager and an employee. Be sure that your expectations in terms of employee behavior, customer service interactions, dress codes, deadlines, and all other crucial day to day aspects of your residential community are clearly communicated. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to have these expectations in writing so that all staff members can easily reference them if they have a question. However, employees often prefer face to face interactions with their managers because it’s more of a personal connection and also because verbal communication makes the manager seem more approachable than simply reading a policy or email. Even more important than communicating your expectations to your staff is to make sure they understand that you value their input into your business. Depending on their position, they may not have direct decision making authority; however, as someone who spends 8 hours a day helping your business grow, every employee should feel they have a say in the progress and growth of your residential community. Whether you have an open door policy or schedule short monthly check-ins with each member of your team, be sure to make communication a priority.

Show Your Appreciation

A little appreciation can go a long way in creating a positive, motivated employee culture. Too often, managers forget to show even the simplest gestures of appreciation to their staff such as saying “thank you”, recognizing good customer service interactions, or verbally giving them kudos for a time they’ve gone above and beyond. Showing appreciation for your staff should be a daily part of your routine. It takes a lot of hands and minds to make your residential community run smoothly and it’s important to keep this in mind as you go about your day. Especially during the holidays, why not go a step further and do something extra special for your employees? Little gestures such as a well-stocked snack bar, coffee and even special parking spaces will help your employees feel valued. During the holidays be sure to include your staff’s family and extended others in the festivities by taking everyone out to dinner or giving family movie tickets. Some companies even hire a masseuse for a day to give their employees complimentary massages as a way to decompress from the holiday stress.

As a property manager, we understand you have a lot on your plate. That’s why having a plan in place to deal with not only the added stress of increased resident needs but also the changing needs of employees during the holiday season is crucial. By keeping open communication, being flexible and empathetic, and making gestures to appreciate your employees you’ll be sure to keep the holidays enjoyable for everyone in your residential community.