I have always found the beginning of December to be a time to reflect on the year that has been.  It is such an energetic time with opportunities to meet with folks I haven’t seen in awhile, re-establish old business connections, and generally feel that ‘peace on earth – goodwill towards others’ that is the hallmark of the season.  Concurrently, we see our pace of work become a bit frenzied.  Our end of year tasks coupled with the demands of the holiday season can make for stressful times.  And importantly, everybody looks forward to holiday festivities in their own organization; be it a big year end party, a staff potluck, or a festive lunch to celebrate the year gone by.

Then along came the year 2020 – a year that has turned social gathering and connectivity on its head!

So, this year I started to reflect on what the Holidays really mean.  Perhaps this is more than just an event or a season but rather a frame of mind; the holiday spirit, if you will.  An expression of goodness, wellbeing, and peace on earth.

At the beginning of this year, many people reflected on 2020 in the context of 20/20 vision.  For those of you lucky to have 20/20 vision you know how incredibly sharp and focused your vision can be.  I recently underwent laser eye surgery in a vain attempt to acquire that elusive 20/20 vision.  Upon completion of the procedure, there are a few tense days where your vision is blurry and you wonder if you made a big mistake.  Your eyes just need rest, a ‘time-out’ to recuperate, and after a few days it is the most magical experience; truly clear vision without glasses or contact lenses.  I am left to wonder if perhaps, in some strange way, the year 2020 has given us that ‘time out’; the rest we required to refocus.

The holiday season is upon us and it is time to once again take a time-out to think about what might be most important to our team.  Here are a couple of ideas that organizations and leaders can use to help recognize our incredible employees who have worked so hard under the most unusual of circumstances this past year:

One Size Fits One.  No two people are alike, so you will really need to think about what is important to each person in your organization.
Some people love the gift of time.  With Christmas Day falling on a Friday this year, is there an opportunity to give a little more time off?
As Olivia Newton-John sang, “Let’s get physical”.  I say, “Let’s get flexible”.  Of all the years where flexibility is critical, 2020 has proven to be the one.  What can we do to be a lot less rigid throughout this special time?
The Holidays are always a tough financial time for just about everybody.  Is there a possibility to kick up the incentives this year?
Have fun!  Many organizations have adopted this principle throughout the year, and I think it’s time to double down on it for the Holidays (Do not lose sight of the fact that not everyone will want to participate.  Make sure you do not force activities on those that would prefer not to join.)
Get off technology.  How about sending a hand-written card to your employees or customers?  Pick up the phone and talk to somebody “live”.  What about dropping by and saying “hello” to your employees/customers in person while adhering to the strictest of physical distancing protocols?
As simple as this seems, be grateful.  Many of us have much to be grateful for; let’s embrace it.

Has 2020 let you pause to think a little harder about the things that are of utmost importance to us, our organizations, and our people?  Is this the gift of 2020?  Determining what is truly important to us? Uncovering what we really value in our lives and the places where we work?  Focusing on what does and does not matter?

I know many of you have reflected on these questions over the past several months and I believe the opportunity to stop and reflect has been the greatest gift of all.  Consider this for your employees as you thank them for their extraordinary efforts in the Holiday Season.

Terry Gillis CEO, Ahria ConsultingChair, Board of Managers, Career Partners International

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