Stress can come at you completely out of nowhere. Imagine you’re going about your day and you get a phone call from someone unhappy about a business decision you made as a small business owner. You run through your customer service training and handle the situation as best you can, and then what?
What do you do with the feelings that linger after resolving an irate customer service interaction? During the holiday season we hear a lot about the elevated stress brought on by unusually high family contact, but can you recall seeing anything about managing the stressors on employees and small business owner that come from business related stress during this high contact season? (If so, feel free to add to the comments so we can help each other out.)
Here are a few I’ll share that really can apply all year round:
1. Be Prepared
Have a Customer Service strategy for your business and make sure all of your employees are comfortable working the process. I once witnessed a very nice receptionist get abused by an irate client on the phone. It was so bad I wanted to take the phone from her and give the person a lesson in civility. It is NEVER okay to yell at people or be abusive in a business exchange. Having a strategy in place can help when these instances crop up as they tend to during the end of the year.
2. Get Help
Make some form of professional Employee Assistance available for your employees. As a small business owner I don’t have access to the types of Employee Assistance Programs I had when I was working for large organizations. But with a little creativity you can offer some form of EAP for your employees and yourself for these busy times of year through services like Talkspace. Consider offering a gift of one month subscription to your employees. You might even be able to write it off as a business expense but definitely talk to your tax professional about that to be sure.
3. Stay Safe
Cater holiday office food instead of having potlucks. Potlucks sound like a much better idea than they are in reality. December brings with it cold and flu season. People have allergies that have to be considered. Everyone is busy at the end of the year. Everyone doesn’t have a talent for cooking/baking. I happen to love to cook but I pretty much made it my policy to just pick up something from Wal-Mart whenever I knew there would be an office potluck. Don’t put that stress on your employees. Treat them to a stress-free end of year celebration. It will be great for moral.
4. Take Breaks
Offer yoga sessions to your employees during lunch for those working close to major holidays. Most communities have yogis who will offer reasonable packages for doing yoga onsite for employees. This is just another way for you to show your people you appreciate their hard work.
5. Be Kind
Remember, you don’t know what people may be going through. Emotions are heightened during the holiday season. Some people are separated from their families. Some may still be grieving the loss of loved ones. Lead with kindness and understanding. Resist the urge to speak in anger while on the clock. Take a walk and give yourself time to breath between challenging confrontations. It is far better to deal with situations when your head is clear and you can work the problem calmly.
Enjoy your holiday. Get some rest and do something nice for yourselves.
Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information on her current projects visit https://about.me/MCyoungblood.