In 2012 I had an interesting conversation about a holiday party that an organization had planned for their staff. A happy topic right?
But the person I was speaking with was frustrated that many of the non-supervisory staff members were not attending. She wondered if it was a reflection on employee morale.
Lots of effort was put into planning the event and she felt badly that people just couldn’t be bothered with it.
I knew the feeling well. One year I was actually so annoyed with what I deemed ungrateful staff that I threw away my copy of “1,001 Ways to Motivate Employees”!
Having learned from my own experience, I suggested to the person I was talking with that she look beyond her frustration to the real issue.
Many of the non-supervisory staff works two jobs. When you are barely making ends meets how likely are you to take a day off your second job to attend a party? Many staff members are single mothers with no support systems. Do you skip an extra shift of work to attend a holiday party or buy a coat for your child?
Thinking about a different perspective was eye opening for this leader. She realized that she had never thought about the real reasons people were not attending the celebration.
Don’t assume everyone has the same way of life or standard of living that you do.
My Eye Opener
Reading “Random Family” by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc dramatically changed the way I interact with non-supervisory staff. The author followed a family living in poverty and shares life from their perspective. The book became even more meaningful to me when one of the women in the book took a job as a nursing assistant. I couldn’t put the book down when I read it and it shocked and saddened me to know that there were people who I worked side by side with that were experiencing the same struggles in their life.
For a quicker read, this shares one CNA’s struggles with juggling it all.
What Can You Do?
While it’s impossible to meet every person’s needs, think about these ideas when planning a celebration:
- Let Staff Members Plan: A simple, but often overlooked, idea is to have staff members that represent a variety of perspectives plan the celebration. Why do we continue to stress ourselves out over figuring things out when there are other people who would gladly take it on? (By the way that tip is not only for holiday party planning!) Next year have them take it on!
- Welcome Children: Can you arrange for babysitting on site or a daytime party that welcomes children? Do you know how much a babysitter costs? Hourly it’s probably more than many of your direct care staff make after taxes. The choice this week might be put milk on the table or pay for a babysitter. I’m no milk lover, but guess which one would win in my house?
- Share the Goodies: Hold a free raffle for staff to share the gifts your team receives this season. One year, one of my team members won a basket that I raffled off from a vendor. (Sorry to whomever gave it to me!) She turned to me and gushed, “Thank you! Now I have a gift for my husband!” That darn basket would’ve sat on my kitchen table for weeks unopened. It was her husband’s only present. Gulp…that made me rethink lots of things. (Including who won random raffles. Wink, wink.)