How Small Business Owners Can Reduce Holiday Stress

by: Melonie Geddes

The holiday season can be overwhelming for the typical small business owner and that can zap the joy right out of the happiest time of the year. Owners often find that personal commitments, holiday shopping, and business demands combine to make the holiday season very stressful. Key employees go on vacation, shipments don’t go out the door, there are holiday parties and other events, and of course there’s the expected year-end bonuses. All that can add up to be quite expensive.

There is no way to completely avoid the holiday pressures but, here are a few things you can consider to lessen seasonal stress and give yourself more time to enjoy the season.

Manage your own expectations

You can’t be everywhere and do everything even though the holiday season may be a critical time for your business, you still have personal obligations that matter too. Therefore, be reasonable when estimating what you’ll be able to accomplish during the holidays.

Set Reasonable Holiday Hours

If you run a retail establishment and are able to set your own hours of operation, make those hours reasonable. Will you really make enough sales between 9PM and midnight to warrant staying open those extra hours the week before Christmas? Consider the extra salary, utility costs, and any potential hazards, (i.e. robbery, icy roads) you and/or your employees might face by staying open late.

Decorate the Office

Bring in some holiday cheer and get into the holiday spirit with your team.   Let employees who choose to participate bring in non religious holiday decorations. Have a tree and suggest a “secret Santa” gift-giving or participate in a local charity gifting program so that there are gifts under the tree. This can lift employee morale and potentially reduce the additional stress they feel during the holidays also.

Make Your Employee’s Holidays Brighter

Your employees are probably stressed and pressed for time as well. Let them know you appreciate them by letting them take a few hours of paid time off to do their shopping during the work day. This could be an alternative to monetary bonuses and if they feel appreciated they’ll put in extra effort to handle high holiday volume.  

Publish Your Holiday Business Hours Well in Advance

Customers, for the most part, will be respectful of your desire to spend quality time with your loved ones during the holiday, as long as you let them know what those hours are. Post the information on your website, in a store window, and send an email to your customers.

Don’t Go Overboard on the Office Party. Holiday parties are usually met with mixed feelings by your employees. On one hand they may enjoy a nice meal and the opportunity to socialize with their colleagues, but on the other hand they may feel pressured to show up when they’d rather be doing something else. Instead, consider celebrating the holidays during normal business hours. . Have it in the office with a nicely catered buffet, keeping it internal without spouses or family members. Do not serve alcohol, which can be expensive, consider giving  everyone gift cards instead. Make it fun and festive and giving employees  the rest of the day off. Since most people are pressed for time many of them will appreciate that more than an expensive after hours event.

Remember What the Holidays Are All About

Despite differing religious beliefs, what makes the holidays special is that it’s a time for spreading peace, joy, and love. It’s a time for sharing experiences and memories with family and friends so embrace it and take some extra time off to hit the refresh button and plan for the coming year.